Today is THE DAY in Vienna as the Big Onion (Spain) faces the Big Kartoffel -Potato (Germany), but perhaps the Sachertorte, the BIG CHOCOLATE CAKE, made of sponge cake, dark chocolate and apricot jam, invented by Franz Sacher in 1832 should be the winner, with Imperial Wien providing a great fan zone amongst the splendid buildings, and for cracking down on ticket touts.
The Free State of Bavaria -BAYERN- is the largest in the Federal Republic of Germany, and has borders with Czech Republic, Austria and Switzerland. Its the Eastern and Southern borders they worry about and the Bavarian State Police patrol the trains coming into their territory, dressed in disguise, looking for illegals.
They are the folks that screwed up really badly in 1972 with the Israeli Olympic team held hostage and finished up shooting each other and allowing all the remaining hostages to be killed by Arab terrorists at Furstenfeldbruck military airport. WELL, these guys don't bother me too much any more, since I have come on late night trains from Salzburg, Vienna, Innsbruck etc during the EURO 2008 tournament, and the same at World Cup 2006. They try to look cool and are dressed in denim jackets, pants, footwear including desert boots, plaid western shirts and one I know well even has a brass belt buckle that says US Marshall. Remember John Voight in Midnight Cowboy??
My first contact this summer was when 4 of them entered our train compartment and I thought they were trawling for prospects for some wierd late night party scene in Rosenheim, where they are based. PASSPORTS PLEASE!!: I said "You show me yours and I'll show you mine". I told one who had worked in Modesto, California, and who said it was dangerous there "You look like the Village People". Can you imagine the CHiPs (California Highway Patrol) dressed in Leiderhosen!! That's how funny they looked. I guess a 35 hour week, 7 weeks holidays plus saints days and time and a half every weekend for showing up at Allianz Arena for a fussball match is pretty good work if you can get it. Three nights ago I was returning from Innsbruck and a couple got on the train at the border at Kufstein and took 2 empty seats in my compartment and went to sleep. I could have grabbed their guns, tied them up with their belts and written rude things on their foreheads with the highlighter I carry to mark maps and train time tables. Why don't they dress in smart, ironed, dress uniforms like their counterparts patrolling Italian Rail, who go home to momma for their laundry, even after getting married?
In 2006 I wrote about the big store at Munchen Hbf which had the sign "Articles of the Failed",(A great translation for souvenirs of the losers)after the first round, and deep discounts for Ivory Coast, Angolan and other souvenirs of other countries on their way home early. Well, this year any store in Austria and Switzerland was doing just that, and we picked up some bargains, and also at the same store in Munchen Hbf. Lots of red and white official mascots, ,bobble hats, flags, and T shirts of Switzerland, Austria, Poland, France, Italy etc. and not too many takers since the fans had gone home.
Tonight the famous Million Man Mile in central Berlin will be packed with at least 500,000 fans. After the success of 2006 it was reopened for the semi-final and final at EURO 2008. Joaquim Low the coach has promised that win or lose, they will fly from Vienna after the match to Berlin to salute their fans.