Markus' Travel and International Living Blog

Markus is an enthusiastic traveler, who lives in Houston, TX (USA) most of the time, but also spends some time in Saalfelden, near Salzburg (Austria). He is fascinated by travel and also by his experiences gathered by living in two different countries and continents.

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Monday, June 26, 2006
Watching the World Cup - Live!

Last week I had the fortunate luck to see a soccer World Cup match live in the Allianz Arena in Munich. Serbia-Montenegro against the Ivory Coast. There were three of us (Ellen and my Mom besides myself), even though we had 4 tickets. Unfortunately, the rules about passing on tickets made it impossible to transfer the 4th ticket to anyone else, while there were tons of people who wanted tickets but couldn't get any. Bummer. (And quite stupid if you ask me... but they didn't ask me).

(BTW: Thanks to Christoph for transferring his tickets to me after it turned out that he couldn't go. I really appreciate it. And sorry dude... you missed an awesome game!)

The game itself was seemingly meaningless, since both team were already eliminated and couldn't reach the round of 16 anymore. However, it still is the World Cup, and no team wants to go home without at least a single victory. So both teams played their hearts out! The atmosphere in the stadium was great. In fact, we went to Munich early and spent the afternoon there, and the whole city was crazy, with fans of both teams celebrating hours before the start of the game.

One might think "who cares about the Ivory Coast?", but as it turns out, a lot of people do! Every team that makes it to the World Cup is important, and all their players are Stars! I wanted to buy an Ivory Coast t-shirt. I thought it would be cool to have a "Didier Drogba" shirt (he is one of the Ivory Coast's stars... usually plays in France, I think), but they were all sold out! In fact, all the Ivory Coast t-shirt were sold out! I managed to buy a flag and a scarf though.

We went to the stadium about two hours before the game. It is a truly amazing stadium. Here is a picture I took during warm up:

It is huge and very modern. It seats 66,000 in World Cup configuration (quite a bit more otherwise) and it was sold out with the exception of our 4th ticket.

The seats we had were pretty good. Second row, kinda behind the goal. That meant we could really only see the closer half of the field well, but we could see that part really well. The rest we watched on the giant monitor. :-)

Here is another scene:

Here is another shot that shows the opening ceremonies of the game and also gives you an idea of the size of the stadium and the view we had from our seats:

The game was awesome! We have attended quite a number of sporting events in the recent past (as readers of this blog know), but this was quite a different story! As it turns out, most of the people in the stadium favored the Ivory Coast. The notable exception was the Serbian curve. However, everyone who wasn't explicitly Serbian seems to have picked the other team as their favorites!

And the Ivory Coast played excellent football! If they were as good in scoring as in the rest of the game (they had 69% possession), they would have easily won this group. But they are bad at scoring, so they lost two games narrowly, and they were soon down 2:0 in this game. Nevertheless, they managed to equalize. 2:2 and the stadium went nuts! "Cote-d'Ivoire, Cote-d'Ivoire, Cote-d'Ivoire, Cote-d'Ivoire, ..." 90% of the audience went crazy and we joined right in! I doubt these guys ever played in front of such an audience, and are probably unlikely to do so again.

Just before the end of the game, they were awarded a penalty kick. Several of their players turned away from the goal. They simply couldn't watch. This would be the difference between going home as winners or going home with 3 narrowly missed victories. But they scored and the stadium erupted!

What an amazing experience this was! A once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. I can only imagine what it must me like to watch the finals. But then again, often these highly important games are boring as neither team is willing to risk anything. This game on the other hand was energetic and fun to watch! Ellen since then expressed her disappointment that we couldn't go to another game.

But it ended, and we went home. Here's a last look back to the stadium as we walked to the subway:

Truly amazing! If you ever have the chance to see a World Cup soccer game, see it! I have never seen anything similar, and I have been to a lot of sporting events. I think the difference is that most sporting events these days sell entertainment and a good show, while the soccer World Cup sells pure emotion. I would go and see an even seemingly meaningless world cup soccer game over the Super Bowl or the World Series any day. I know, most Americans will now think I am nuts, but the Soccer World Cup is hard to describe to someone who hasn't experienced it first hand. They say 3 billion people watch the soccer world cup. (Compared to some 30 million watching the Super Bowl... the soccer world cup is as popular as 100 Super Bowls combined...). There are nations who have holidays on the day they won a world cup soccer match. The concept of putting this much emotion into sports is completely foreign to US sports I think, where people seem to go to the stadium to eat hot dogs (boy do I get mad when they constantly get up in front of you during exciting plays...). The Ivory Coast suspended their civil war during the World Cup!

Oh, and if anyone is interested in an Ivory Coast scarf and a flag, contact me...


Posted @ 6:38 PM by Egger, Markus ( -
Comments (1573)

Saturday, June 24, 2006
US Study Confirms Global Warming

There is a new study about global warming. As you probably gathered by the headline of this post, it confirms that the globe is warming, and it also confirms the human influence on it.

"So what else is new?" you might say. After all, we have had these studies for years and they have been accepted around the world for quite some time now. What is interesting about this study is that it has been initiated by the US Congress. I guess one could argue that it was a waste of money to continue to research a well understood issue, but I think it IS significant that this is now coming form the US Congress. After all, the US (lead by the information spread by its government) has been the only country where global warming has been doubted (at least by some).

If you are interested, check out the study here: (For those who are not familiar with this: There is a short 3 or 4 page summary that can bring you up to speed).

So the question that remains is this: How can the population at large understand the issue? Every time I hear statements like "boy has it been cold and rainy this week... and they tell me the globe is warming! BS!", I just cringe because it is so embarrassingly uneducated. It is really hard to believe that someone who is reasonably educated (say, someone who made it through the first few years of high school) would be caught making such a statement.

BTW: Current warming trends seem to be a bit more severe than I was previously aware of. Right now, it is estimated the the average surface temperature raises by about 0.6 degrees Celsius (more than 1 degree Fahrenheit) every year. This is drastic! Think about it this way: Let's say for simplicity's sake that the difference in temperature between the poles and the equator is 100 degrees fahrenheit. Then, let's take the earth's circumference as roughly 25,000 miles. This means that 1 degree of temperature covers about 65 miles north/south (in both directions out from the equator). So every year the temperature raises by 1 degree fahrenheit, we loose about 130 miles of ice on the poles (just over 200km). In not even a year and a half, we loose ice equal to the distance of New York to Boston. in 10 years, we loose 2,000km of ice. This is equal the distance of Boston to Miami. It is more than the distance from Stockholm to Rome. If memory serves me correctly, then it is also about 10 times the distance Iraq's most advanced missile could fly. Or in other words, within a year, ice melting at the poles could get completely out of reach from Iraq's missiles if they were right at the edge of it a year earlier.

Quite stunning stuff, when you think about it like that...


Posted @ 6:02 AM by Egger, Markus ( -
Comments (10)

Saturday, June 17, 2006
It's the World Cup, Baby!

2 days ago Ellen and I traveled from Houston to Munich. It was interesting to see that the journey was somewhat unusual, mainly based on the fact that the football world cup is turning the entire (except the US) world into a madhouse!

I was surprised to see that the world cup was present right from the get go. The taxi driver who dropped us off at the airport asked us where we were flying. We told them we were on our way to Europe. "Oh, you are going to the world cup?" he asked. Well, not entirely, but we will probably see a match, so I said "yes, absolutely!" to make things a bit more exciting. He was quite impressed!

The flight from Houston to Amsterdam had several people on it that were obviously traveling to the world cup. In particular, there were several Mexicans. They all carried rolled up sombreros. The funny part was that they all carried two sombreros. I guess as a mexican fan, you always want to make sure you have a backup sombrero!

But it got better yet! In Amsterdam, a group of about 30 scottish fans boarded our flight to Munich. Scotland did not qualify for the world cup, so I guess they decided to be fans of Brazil. They all wore scottish kilts and brazilian shirts. Quite the sight. They were singing and yelling and generally in high spirits. They were also very loud. But it was all in good fun and nobody stepped out of line other than being loud, so it was quite humorous. And they kept going on the plane! It was rather loud. They sang and blew their air horns. On occasion, we may even have experienced turbulences from them jumping up and down inside the plane. Ellen said "boy, you wouldn't see that on a US flight...". Well, I don't think you would see that on a normal European flight, but during the world cup, the rules def. are different!

I actually managed to snap a few pictures of the group at the airport in Munich. Unfortunately, I only had a cell phone camera, and the pictures are of extremely poor quality. Nevertheless, you won't see this anywhere else. And in some ways, it may not be so bad that these pictures are a bit blurry:

Quite the rowdy crowd! All this was before they had anything to drink (I think).

Well, if nothing else, this picture answers an age-old question...


Posted @ 11:13 AM by Egger, Markus ( -
Comments (5)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Soccer/Football World Cup

The football World Cup is upon us! Finally! I am not a huge soccer fan, but when it comes to the World Cup tournament that takes place every 4 years, then one just has to be a fan! The event is just so significant, so extremely important to so many people, it is very very exciting just because of that. I am really looking forward to the action heating up.

Talking about heated action: I watched the game of the US vs. the Czech Republic today. Frankly, it was embarrassing. Not because of the action on the field. They tried hard enough. But some of the commentary around it... paleeeeaaaaase! There was talk about winning the group so the US wouldn't have to play Brazil in the next round. There was talk about winning the whole tournament. Give me a break! Yes, the US team got a lot better, but talk about an arrogant attitude! This is the world stage, and the US has a very easy preliminary group to get in (compare the North America group to many European groups... not even the last European Champion made it in this time!). Is it possible for the US to progress? Sure. Everything is possible in soccer. But the attitude is just embarrassing. The US is also considered to be a bunch of arrogant... let's just say "jerks". And then we come upon the world stage and give interviews how the US can beat any team? Could we make it any worse?

Let me drop a hint here: The teams that have the sympathies on their side are the ones that fight hard and talk only after they won. Big words before the game just add to the already bad perception people have.

So the US lost 3:0. This is a bummer, because in this group, the Czech Republic was the team to beat. It is not going to get easier. Italy, despite all the scandals, is just too hard a team to beat, especially in a World Cup. The only hope here is that the Italians will take things too easy. And then there is Ghana in the same group, and Ghana is not going to be any easier than the Czechs (especially if the US doesn't win against Italy). I guess one never knows what is going to happen, and as they say, "it isn't over until the official blows the whistle", but at this point, not winning matches but scoring a few goals is the more realistic goal. That is the attitude I would go in with if I was a betting man. But I am not, and maybe they will prove me wrong. We'll see.

I am actually planning to watch a game in Munich. A friend of mine has tickets and can not go, so we are in the process of trying to transfer them to me. It is a nightmare, but I have high hopes that it will work out. If so, we will be watching the Ivory Coast against Serbia-Montenegro. Not exactly the top-ranked game, but I am fairly excited about it, because it is going to be the kind of game you can only see once in a lifetime. Hopefully, the transfer will go through...


Posted @ 12:48 AM by Egger, Markus ( -
Comments (4)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Where Am I?

I have not had a lot of time for blogging lately. Ironically enough, because I have been traveling too much. I went to Europe twice (and I even ended up canceling 2 trips to Europe in the last 6 weeks!). I went to Montreal, Oregon, and Orlando. I also went to Seattle twice. And I did a bunch of day trips to places like Dallas and Austin. I was supposed to go to Boston this week, but I ended up so worn out, I simply didn't have another trip in me. (So I end up with an entire 8 days at home! How about that for being lazy?)

And what do I have to report? To be honest, not a whole lot that might be interesting for this blog. I have simply been working to much. I do have a few things queued up that I thought are worth posting here, but those are not truly directly related to my recent trips, so I will blog these things separately.

So anyway: I am back! Expect a bunch of posts in the near future...

Posted @ 12:29 AM by Egger, Markus ( -
Comments (3)








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