LEIPZIG- So one of the coolest and probably the most crazy day I’ve had here in Germany thus far was Sunday, July13. First off, it was a LONG day. We left Leipzig at 8 a.m. and drove over an hour to the city of Dresden, which is the capital of the German state of Saxony (for those of you who didn’t know, Germany is comprised of sixteen states or Bundesländer, and Leipzig is in the state of Saxony). We were in Dresden essentially all day, touring one of the palaces of the former kings of Saxony, seeing the historic city center which includes the beautifully restored Frauenkirche. I’ll make a separate post about that trip at a later date.
When we returned to Leipzig, a group of I believe close to ten of us went from the Bahnhof and walked to one of the smaller plazas where a public viewing event was being held for the Championship Game of the 2014 World Cup, where Germany would be playing Argentina for the title. We got to the plaza about 25-30 minutes before the game started, figuring that would be enough time. WRONG! The square was bursting with people and they (the city, the police, or possibly a third-party event organizer) had the plaza fenced off and were controlling how many people were allowed in to keep people safe. After waiting for that full 30 minutes I was barely able to get in, and there were still other people from our group waiting in line. The plaza was filled with excited people, all hoping that their team would be crowned champions of world soccer that night. You could practically feel it, and it was very contagious. Every missed goal by Germany resulted in a collective groan, and every missed goal by Argentina resulted in a collective sigh of relief.
At half time, the rest of our group that had remained outside the perimeter were able to join us, and a few people decided to find a better place to watch (the plaza was fine for me, since I’m over 6ft and can see over most people, but for some who were a bit shorter, it wasn’t as much fun. By the end of the game there would be four of us watching and hoping that Germany would score a winning goal.
The regulation 90 minutes came and went with no goal for either team. Then came the first 15 minutes of extra time, and no score was made. People were starting to get anxious, even nervous. The second 15 minutes of extra time began. People stared on, hoping for a goal. THEN, with just about 7 minutes left in the game, Mario Götze is able to make a goal. The crowd in Leipzig erupts into cheers, and dozens of Black-Red-Yellow German flags shoot up into the air waving about wildly. People were jumping up and down. The party atmosphere calmed a little as the last 7 minutes played out, but not by much. And when the reffs blew the final whistle, and Germany had defeated Argentina for the title, it felt like the whole city exploded into celebration. Flags waved in the air frantically. People were high-fiving and hugging total strangers and screaming “Wir sind die Weltmeisters!” (we are the world champions) at the top of their lungs. It was overwhelming. And of course, my friends and I screamed and cheered with the rest of the crowed. It was awesome to be able to share this experience with our hosts. After over thirty minutes or so we walked out of the public viewing plaza and into the Old City and on to the Markt Platz, where people were celebrating in small groups, some playing soccer, others waving flags, and still others coming up and embracing total strangers. It was quite a sight to behold. People shot off a few fireworks. Throughout the city center people were riding on their bicycles and ringing their bells frantically. From the Markt Platz we could hear what sounded like hundreds of cars from the nearby inner ring street. The celebration literally went on for hours. So far, that was probably one of the most memorable experiences of the trip and definitely one I’ll remember for some time to come.
More on my adventures from Leipzig to come in the next couple of days and over the weekend.