THE ENGLISH CHANNEL – Our ferry will shortly dock at Dover and our blog adventure will come to an end.
It’s quite hard to look back over the last few weeks as it seemed to whip by so quickly, the memories are all a bit of blur at the moment, but I’m sure in a few weeks I’ll be able to pinpoint my favourite incidents more clearly.
Check out the video as we say goodbye to mainland Europe
Continue reading "Homeward bound"
COLOGNE - This is it then, our final night in Germany spent having a great meal by the banks of the Rhine in a southern suburb of Cologne with one of our many new found friends, actor Joachim Krol.
And, like Fletch, the hospitality of the German people towards the hordes of invading strangers will stick with me for a long time.
Continue reading "Last stop Cologne"
BERLIN – Fletch and I worked out at that we are two of less than a million people on this planet to see to the current World Cup trophy lifted in person.
Obviously Fletch was comfortably seated in his press place for the whole game whereas I had to chance my arm in a late dash into the stadium, after the end of the action but before the prize was hoisted aloft.
Continue reading "Gate-crashing the World Cup party"
BERLIN - It's World Cup final day, but you could be forgiven for thinking the main event took place last night, such were the scenes after Germany's victory over Portugal in the third/fourth place play-off.
Traffic came to a standstill along Kurfuerstendamm as hordes of supporters spilled onto the streets, people were standing up out of the sunroof of their cars waving the German flag and beeping their horns.
Continue reading "Third place celebrations"
BERLIN - The weather has finally broken in Germany, after 30 days of unrelenting heat the storm clouds have arrived over Berlin.
After yesterday’s downpour when we were trapped in a station, both Fletch and I woke up bright and early this morning – about five – with the rain hammering down on Svan’s roof.
Continue reading "Awoken by the rain"
BERLIN - It's all we've heard about these last four weeks, the city that's in every song and is the ultimate destination of all those who dreamed of being succesful at this World Cup.
Well we've finally arrived in Berlin, where the final will be played on Sunday, and it is curiously quiet.
Continue reading "All roads lead to Berlin, don't they?"
HELMSTEDT - There is always a bit of risk in accepting an invitation to a stranger's house.
So we weren't quite sure what to expect when blog reader Stephan offered us beer and a barbecue at his mate Sebastian's place while watching the France v Portugal semi-final.
Continue reading "German hospitality"
DORTMUND - For the second time in four days I was there, in the thick of it waiting for the boiling atmosphere to bubble over and the party to start.
But again the atmosphere was killed in a second - the second it took Fabio Grosso to curl the ball round Jens Lehmann and into the net to set Germany on the way to World Cup semi-final defeat.
Continue reading "The greatest party that never was"
ESSEN - After the semi-final between Italy and Germany in Dortmund we will get on the road towards Svan's final destination in Germany - Berlin.
We've been on the road for four weeks now and Berlin has always been the shining light at the end of our blog tunnel - but we're going to be a bit early for the final, so we want your suggestions of something to do on the way.
Continue reading "The last journey"
HOHENSYBURG, OUTSIDE DORTMUND - Yesterday was a total wash out.
It's more than 36 hours now since England went out of this World Cup and Fletch and I are still struggling to process that information and summon up the required strength to move on.
Check out the video from Saturday's fan fest and also a kid doing keepy-ups for my entertainment.
Continue reading "Getting over it"
GELSENKIRCHEN - The scene at the hastily-installed second fan fest in Gelsenkirchen told the tale of the day.
Where not one hour previously around 30,000 England fans had urged Sven-Goran Eriksson's team on, there was now just a mass of discarded plastic glasses and the odd fan laid out on the ground - too much sun, too much beer and the pain of defeat having taken their toll.
Check out the video.
Continue reading "Flat out and heading home"
MOTORING TOWARDS GELSENKIRCHEN – The moment Jens Lehmann saved Esteban Cambiasso’s penalty to send Germany into the World Cup semi-finals, Fletch and I immediately turned on our heels and walked away.
We had to get ourselves to Hamburg’s stadium for the Italy v Ukraine match, but any thoughts that we were leaving the party were soon quashed by the number of jubilant Germans who joined us on the train.
Continue reading "Lehmann gets the party started"
A SERVICE STATION, NORTH OF HAMBURG – Svan’s fixed! Yippee!
Well, it’s only a patch up job on our busted rear end but it looks good enough to keep us going for the rest of the tournament – touch wood – and more importantly to get us to Gelsenkirchen for tomorrow’s England match.
Continue reading "On the road again"
HAMBURG – The incident between Svan and a gate post, leaving us spending the night on a Fiat garage forecourt, brought me crashing down to earth after what I thought was my biggest achievement of the trip.
I managed to purchase a World Cup ticket via Fifa’s website.
Continue reading "Joy and despair in Hamburg"
BREMEN - You might expect that a club who applied to host World Cup matches, but was rejected, would feel particularly left out now.
And with Werder Bremen currently the second best club side in the country after a third successive Champions League qualification, you would think they are feeling hard done by.
Continue reading "Bremen happy to dodge World Cup"
HANNOVER - We haven’t really discovered a theme tune for this World Cup while driving Svan up and down the autobahn, possibly because while one of us drives the other is often in the back working.
My introduction of Nena’s 99 Red Balloons – the original German version – on the stereo yesterday was just met with bemusement from Fletch, so I think it’s a non-starter.
Continue reading "The Germans' taste in music"
ERNST-AUGUSTUS-PLATZ, HANNOVER – Finally! I can’t tell you how good it feels to be blogging again after 24 hours of technical gremlins and tantrums from yours truly.
My laptop internet connection and digital camera had stopped working leaving me as the chocolate teapot of this blog operation.
I don’t take very well to things that previously worked, just breaking for no apparent reason and so I’ve been stomping about our camper van, two campsites and a fair few motorway service areas, with Fletch eyeing me warily in case I was about to explode.
Continue reading "Technical tantrums"
LEIPZIG – In five short days the atmosphere at this World Cup has changed.
With confident victories over Ecuador and Sweden, the Germans have gone from accommodating hosts to real contenders in this tournament, at least that is what millions of supporters of Juergen Klinsmann’s team believe.
Continue reading "Germany believes"
LEIPZIG - As Fletch and I approached Leipzig city centre via tram this afternoon we thought it unusually quiet, assuming tonight's game here between two American teams was not accompanied by many travelling fans.
That illusion was soon shattered as the Hauptbahnhof honed into view - thousands of fans were spilling out of the main station and into the city's pedestrian district.
There were many wearing the light blue and white of Argentina, many more wearing the green and sombreros of Mexico, but today Leipzig was painted black, red and gold.
Continue reading "Overflowing Fan Fests"
ALMOST INSIDE THE FRANKENSTADION, NUREMBERG - I'm sat here on some concrete steps, staring at the Frankenstadion not 30 metres away, listening to the cheers and jeers of the Ghana v USA crowd.
Why no closer? Because I bought a cancelled ticket off a tout and am now stuck in the eerie no-man's land between the outer security checkpoint and the entance to the stands.
Continue reading "Gutted in Nuremberg"
AUTOBAHN A6, RICHTING NUREMBERG – Ulm Munster has the tallest church tower in the world, it stands 161.53m high and has 768 steps, and this morning we sweated all the way to the top.
Not such heartfelt thanks are due to blog reader James who directed us towards it when we asked for things we should do on our way to Nuremberg.
Continue reading "My legs hurt"
A CAR/CAMPER VAN PARK, ULM - Being on the road quite a lot has meant we've missed out on watching a lot of the footie, but with the games getting more interesting at the end of the group stage we're determined to halt that trend.
So, at four this afternoon we pulled off the motorway and wandered into the services in the hope of seeing Germany take on Ecuador.
Continue reading "Keep on trucking"
ON THE ROAD AGAIN IN BAVARIA - We've left Munich now and are heading back to Stuttgart to do some filming with Celina Hinchcliffe and her touring BBC crew - keep your eyes peeled for us on the MOTD highlights some time this week and check out the video- and after a night in the England fans' camp near Baden-Baden we're going to take the scenic route towards Nuremberg.
But we are undecided on what to do with ourselves on Wednesday evening.
Continue reading "A football quandary"
MUNiCH - Arriving in Munich we've walked straight into another massive party, the Brazilians and Aussies are in town for their match on Sunday.
As every other first time visitor to the city, Fletch and I made a bee-line for the Hofbrauhaus to try and get something to eat and drink.
Continue reading "Samba beat hits Munich"
ON THE MOTORWAY HEADING TOWARDS MUNICH - The Dutch are here in Germany in force, that much I can confirm.
The thousands upon thousands without tickets for the Ivory Coast match in Stuttgart crammed into the city centre's Schlossplatz and partied hard once qualification for the second round was assured.
Continue reading "Oranje boom"
A SAUSAGE SHOP, STUTTGART HAUPTBAHNHOF - Not that I expect the remotest bit of sympathy from you dear blog reader, but it can be very frustrating being outside a stadium when a World Cup match is on with no prospect of getting in.
For the second time in a week Fletch is happily settled in his press seat, while I have to glumly drag myself away from the ground and towards an establishment with a TV.
Continue reading "My new favourite hobby"
HEIDELBERG - It's another fine morning in Germany and I think my adrenalin has finally stopped pumping after the Hockenheim experience, but it'll get going again ahead of the England game, I'm sure.
Check out our video of Svan tackling the turns of a Grand Prix circuit - I wonder what our advanced driving instructor Ronny would think of it...
HEIDELBERG - We've had two heroes on our blog journey today, Herr Schacher, whose magic fingers helped get Svan up and running this morning, and Sib who suggested we head to the Hockenheim Grand Prix circuit to test out the repair.
Quickly confirming that this was en route, we hit the road and headed south from Frankfurt.
Continue reading "Svan goes racing"
FRANKFURT - I'm sure you'll all feel very sorry for me when I tell you I didn't get into the South Korea v Togo match this afternoon.
I'd given up the chance of making it in when I was delayed collecting our new 3G cards for the laptops but a call from Fletch in the press box informing me of quite a few empty seats sent me scurrying back into the public transport system and heading to the Waldstadion.
Continue reading "Togo no go"
DREIEICH-OFFENTHAL - Our problems with Svan have had a positive knock-on effect in that we've been afforded an evening when we don't have to be rushing around and can actually sit down and watch some football.
With Fletch rooting for Ghana and myself just hoping football was the winner, we settled down in a traditional German biergarten and enjoyed what this particularly leafy Frankfurt suburb had to offer and watched this evening's game.
Continue reading "Life in a German town"
DORTMUND - Yesterday they were going to be world champions, today the Swedish fans are searching for answers as to why their team failed to beat Trinidad and Tobago.
The guys next door to us on the campsite, who were extremely bullish about their chances on Friday evening, just greeted me with a croaky "Oh, go away!" as I approached their caravan this morning.
"We've got a dumbass coach," said my new friend, Frederick. "Where was Kallstrom when Svensson was rubbish? He doesn't know when to use substitutes."
I managed to cheer them up with a set of Fletch and Ricco T-shirts, fast becoming the must-have fashion accessory of the World Cup, and they got a little bit more confident.
Continue reading "Downcast in Dortmund"
DORTMUND - While Fletch is a member of the accredited media out here in Germany, I'm having to watch the games in whichever way I can.
So the e-mail I received on Thursday informing me my ticket application for the Sweden v Trinidad game had been successful was a real bonus.
Despite some problems trying to print out the confirmation, I joined a relatively short queue at the ticket centre here in Dortmund and there I was in the Westfalenstadion today - although I was offered 2000 euros for it last night, 20 times the face value.
Forget the red carpet that runs from the city centre to the stadium, the paths around the stadium became a yellow river of confused supporters trying to make their way to a very poorly sign-posted entrance - it seemed for a while that the famous German efficiency was in danger of coming off the rails.
Continue reading "T&T ticket triumph!"
DORTMUND - After our technological problems with BBC World this morning, we rightly began to focus on the football.
Check out the video
We settled on the main square in Dortmund to watch the opening game but after two hours baking under the harsh evening Nordrhein-Westfallen sun with only half a view of the big screen - both Costa Rica goals were offside, by the way, according to a better-placed German informant - we decided to move on.
The stadium in Dortmund is twinned with an exhibition cente, the Westfallenhalle, and tonight they were hosting a tribute to their visitors from Trinidad & Tobago.
Although mainly lost on us, acts like Shurwayne Winchester are the business in the Caribbean and we were treated to a feast of music and dance - the Soca that Trinidad's Soca Warriors are indebted to.
Continue reading "Trini-party shenanigans"
AIRE DE SPY, E42, BELGIUM – While England is going Rooney crazy after it’s confirmed “the big man” will play some part in the tournament, it’s a different story on the continent.
Check out the video of our first day on the blog.
A stop for lunch at the motorway services just past Charleroi gave me my first opportunity to get my hands on the Bild Zeitung, Germany’s biggest tabloid paper.
So is the Rooney news splashed all across the headlines?
The answer, a firm no.
Continue reading "Wayne who?"
LONDON - Before I get into the meat of this entry let me just point you towards our trailer which ran on Football Focus today (watch the video) - great publicity for the blog but I need to have a word about my image rights as my cartoon makes me look like an 80-year-old who hasn't slept for a year - or Tord Grip for that matter.
So Fletch thinks I might have some nasty habits, eh?
As someone who's endured some shocking housemates in his time, including a Bavarian who communicated solely through grunts and post-it notes on the bathroom mirror, I think I've learnt to be as mild mannered as possible.
But five weeks is a long time and the mask is bound to slip at some point, so let's address Fletch's concerns one by one:
Continue reading "Nasty habits (part II)"
LONDON - If your office is anything like this one, although I'll grant you at BBC Sport we've got a few more football fanatics than at most, you'll have been deluged with invitations to join various World Cup sweepstakes/predictions/competitions etc.
Out of about eight such invitations I've managed to narrow myself down to four: a fantasy game run by the Metro, a predictions competition with my football mates, plus our very own World Cup Daq.
I'll also be proving my mettle against my fellow bloggers on Radio Five Live's Challenge Lawro - You're all going down!!!!.
Anyway, I'm poring over the list for the fantasy football game - £100m to spend on 12 players, no more than two from a country - and I'm looking for the surprise packages of the tournament that'll make the difference - everyone will have Ronaldinho.
Continue reading "Let the games begin"
LONDON - Having watched the Big Brother launch yesterday, one major question occurred to me. Who would want to lock themselves up in a house with no televisions with the World Cup three weeks away. . ??
As I'm at the age when a lot of the people I know seem to be getting married, five of them this year, I'm proud of the way they have all managed to dodge the bullet in June and July.
Well all except one who is getting hitched the day of the third/fourth place play-off, a game in which, even if England are playing, most of the population will have little interest - anybody remember the 1990 game against Italy?(video link) Me neither.
I'm lucky in that my job provides me the mandate to clear the decks, shun all my friends and family and concentrate on giving my all to the World Cup - I'm sure you'd expect nothing less. Is there anything on the horizon that you are already planning a cunning excuse for?
A dear old aunt's birthday on the day England meet Sweden?
A big meeting at work when Argentina face Holland?
Surely not a PTA meeting when Angola play Iran?
I work with the multimedia team of the BBC Sport website, providing on-demand videos and live broadcasts for all the sports under the sun, from the Premiership to the Winter Olympics snowboard cross and have been spending my time recently wading through the BBC archives for our World Cup pages.
I came to the BBC via stints in Germany and France and am more than looking forward to returning to the Motherland this summer alongside Paul Fletcher (Fletch) in a camper van built for two, well three actually - with generous disabled access.
But Germany's a big place and we'll be asking for your help to guide us along the way - we want to be the eyes and ears, and most importantly wheels, of all those fans watching on from afar.
I love playing sport and I'll give anything a go as long as it involves a stick or a ball, especially golf and football. When I'm not doing that I suffer from unhealthy obsessions with video games, Deal or No Deal and Girls Aloud.
I expect my biggest challenges during the World Cup will be lasting five weeks in a cosy camper van with a self-confessed professional northerner, and not gorging myself on endless Currywursts - "Mmmmm, lecker" as they might say in Munich.
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