Cologne (and FC Dortmund v Stuttgart)
Posted on May 31, 2012
A weekend break to Cologne, with a trip to the Signal Iduna Park to watch Dortmund v Stuttgart. It began with a bit of a disaster…It wasn’t until we had landed in Cologne, taken the train into the city centre and checked into the hotel that I realised. Where were the match tickets? Damn. They must have slipped out of my bag when I was stowing it on the plane. It was only two hours until kick off, and to get from Cologne to Dortmund would take ninety minutes. The game was a sell out so there was no chance of getting any on the gate and it was too late to sort out replacements. We decided to risk making a fruitless three hour round trip and headed out of Cologne.
The trip from Cologne to Dortmund was easy; the German train system lived up to its reputation and delivered us efficiently and effortlessly to the stadium. (Every time I travel on a train abroad it highlights how bad British trains are). As soon as we got off the train, we headed towards the ground and I put my appalling lack of German into practice: “Haben sie tickets, haben sie tickets?” (the German for ticket is actually ‘fahrkarte’, I think). Miraculously, after a couple of minutes of strange looks we were successful and had two tickets to the game. As we got closer to the ground we realised how lucky we were, as there were quite a few people who seemed to be trying for tickets without any success.
The Bundesliga experience is fantastic; you can drink while watching the game, everyone was really friendly and the atmosphere is extraordinary. For 90 minutes both home and away fans were relentless in the amount of noise that they made. To buy anything when you are in the ground (beer, pretzel, hot dog etc) you need to first buy a stadium card, load it up with some credit and then you can spend it at the bar.
The game itself was a cracker, finishing 4-4 with the lead changing six times. Dortmund’s stadium is one of the largest in Europe, with the biggest stand being the ‘Südtribüne’, a monstrous 25000 all-terraced stand behind one of the goals. This was where we had our original tickets for and it was a shame that we missed out. A reason to go back!
The rest of the weekend we spent in Cologne. It’s a nice, if unremarkable place. The main sight is the ‘Dom’, the city’s very large cathedral. Near the cathedral is the oldest part of the city, full of bars and restaurants. The local beer is ‘kolsch’, served cold in small half pint sized glasses and there are loads of good places where you can sample the beer accompanied by a Bratwurst:
We also visited the Museum Ludwig (good, modern art) and the Chocolate Museum (not so good – not enough free chocolate!). The old part of the city is pretty compact, so it’s easy to get around on foot. All in all it was a good weekend, the definite highlight was the football though!
Tickets: The first tickets (that we lost) were from Viagogo. The service was good and the tickets arrived in plenty of time, but the mark up on the face value is staggering. If you speak German, the German version of ebay is supposedly a good place to get tickets from, and legal. The second pair of tickets were from a tout, luckily we found one as there did not appear to be too many.
Accommodation: We stayed at Le Meridien Dom Hotel. The room was good value and the hotel is really centrally located. Don’t bother with a drink at the bar though, it is about twice as expensive as any of the bars just outside the hotel.