Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Hertha BSC

Hertha BSC 0-2 1. FSV Mainz 05
Olympiastadion, Berlin

Date of visit: Friday 16th February 2018
Ground number: 3
League: Bundesliga
Ticket: €21
Programme: Free
Beer: Carlsberg €4
Attendance: 30,908

Back in November my cousin Martin and I planned this little trip to Berlin. The plan was to arrive Thursday evening, spend Friday and Saturday exploring the city and take in a couple of games....Hertha vs Mainz on the Friday night and Berliner FC Dynamo on the Sunday afternoon. It didn't quite go to plan but it was certainly an eye opening weekend.

I took the train from Prague (600kč/€23 return for a very comfortable 4 hour direct train) and Martin flew from London. We arrived at the hotel within an hour of each other (H2 Hotel Berlin-Alexanderplatz €91 per night inc breakfast) and decided to head straight out for a much needed German beer. It was hard not to notice the Hofbrauhaus next to the hotel and that seemed like as good a place as any to start. Much like its Munich older brother the atmosphere was good and the beer tasted great.

Hofbrauhaus Berlin

When in Berlin.....drink Munich beer!

The hofbrauhaus is obviously not the cheapest pub in town so off we went to find some local beers. I'm not sure why but the first place we went to was a Czech chain pub (The Pub). Those familiar with Prague/Brno will have probably tried it's self serving beer pump on tables system. The beer wasn't actually Czech though with a local beer going down well while watching Napoli vs RB Leipzig on the big screen.

After 'The Pub' we sampled two nearby microbreweries. The first was Brauhaus Lemke, a huge craft microbrewery right next to Alexanderplatz. It was a Thursday night so most places seemed to be dying down at this point and this huge brauhaus was no exception. We had an excellent pale ale before moving onto the nearby Berliner Marcus Brau. This was a really small place but it had a lot of character. They had a wide range of homemade products including spirits, honey and mustard as well as their own beer. I asked the waitress for a 5 litre 'tower' to surprise Martin but she politely declined as they were closing at 11 and she obviously couldn't see us finishing it in 30 mins (pfft). In the end we had to settle for a pint and a shot of their homemade beer spirit. It was all very tasty and a nice way to cap off our first night in Germany's capital.

A nicely bitter, hoppy Pale Ale from Brauhaus Lemke

The last beer of the night....or was it?

We left Marcus Brau just after 11, loaded up google maps to get back to the hotel and got a good nights sleep to ensure we were in top condition for the rest of the weekend. At least that's what we should have done.

I hold my hands up here. Martin was ready to go back and for some reason I, completely out of character (as these days I generally prefer daytime drinking and hate being out late) decided I wasn't ready for bed. I was truly in the Berlin spirit and felt like I had a lot more to give this quiet Thursday night. Looking back a month later I now know that it was probably one of the worst decisions I've made since drinking an entire bottle of peach schnapps to myself on the first night in Ibiza back in 2004.

We walked in the opposite direction to the hotel and found a dark little bar (for reasons that will probably become clear I don't know the names of most bars or have any pictures from this point onward). Dark bar was ok. I remember a dj and very average beer. It was a friendly enough place. After a while we then went to Belushi's bar....otherwise known as backpacker central. These places are all over Europe, are cheap enough and usually attached to a hostel. We met a group of Americans and it's at this point where things started taking a turn for the worse as we were doing shots at the bar. I'm going to cut the story short now but flashbacks are....barman wanting to throw me out, arguing with American girl, American girl chasing me down the street trying to punch me. I know what I said to her to make her want to punch me but I won't put it here. Let's just say drunk Dave wasn't very complimentary.

After running away from the angry American we ended up back in dark bar (at around 2am). According to Martin I was doing tequila shots with the barman but I only remember one girl who kept saying 'dickhead' to everyone. She was quite funny and I think either her or her friends took us to the next place which turned out to be a gay venue. I have one flashback here which is that me and Martin were the only people in the place wearing tops. It was an absolute maze. I don't know what I was drinking and I lost Martin. To summarise....I remember running away from the Angry American just before 2, I remember men with no tops on in a maze of a nightclub and then waking up at 15:00 the next day. My mobile told me that I had walked 5km at 6am and managed to find our room. Martin's wallet told him he had taken a taxi back to the hotel around the same time. No idea.

The problem with this was that we had wasted an entire day in Berlin. The second problem was that I appeared to have the biggest hangover ever known to man. I felt absolutely awful and the Hertha match for me was in serious doubt.

After another couple of hours trying to sleep it off we rallied and got on the U-bahn to the Olympic stadium. It's about 14 stops from Alexanderplatz and takes around 35 minutes. It was truly the worst underground journey I have EVER had. I was stood next to the door because I kept thinking I'd have to jump off at the next stop to throw up. That's how bad I felt. Martin had a second wind and was talking to me but I didn't have the energy to reply and was just concentrating on making it to the stadium.

These next few photos are courtesy of Martin as I couldn't really function.

Berlin's finest at the very efficient ticket collection point.

The exterior of the Olympic stadium really is something else!
I was so angry with myself that I really couldn't enjoy the Hertha experience. The stadium was beautiful inside and out. There were no huge crowds and everything seemed to work really well. I loved the outside especially and wanted to walk around but I was dying and just wanted to get to my seat, sit down and get through the game.

We got to the seat, sitting down wasn't going to happen. The seats were above the ultras main tier but still in that area so nobody actually sat down for the game. My heart sank. I just kind of leaned on my chair for 90 mins and to make matters worse there was a British stag party a couple of rows behind us being rowdy and throwing beer. I was secretly hoping a Berlin fan was going to punch them but in the end all that happened was one of them spotted the Blackburn Rovers badge on my hat. Brilliant.

View from the main home sector.

The game itself was poor. I saw Mainz pick up away points for the second time in the space of 8 weeks and Hertha really disappointed. Nobody seemed capable of stringing a couple of passes together and Mainz took their chances to get a deserved win in front of 200 or so away supporters.

Not so super Hertha...

A word of warning as well...the beer in the stadium is terrible. It didn't matter for me (Martin bought me a pint which I managed 2 sips of) but it's a shame they don't have a local (or at least German) beer. Carlsberg is on sale and it's about as good as you would expect. Not very.

All in all it was good to attend a game here and the atmosphere was great. I'd like to come back when I'm not at death's door.

We headed back into town. I went straight to bed in a desperate attempt at salvaging the weekend and Martin...he went back to Belushi's!

The weekend continues HERE

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