Borussia Dortmund – one of the top flight clubs in Germany

In my opinion, the German city of Dortmund doesn’t really have anything in significance to go visit other than maybe the German Football Museum. Again, World War II really put a dent on the city landscape destroying a lot of buildings that so many famous/old architectural sights were blasted to smithereens and never re-built which allowed modernization to set in with wider streets and trains since cars started overtaking the horse and buggy. However, Dortmund’s big claim to fame which put its signal beacon on the sports map, making it a must go see is the football team, Borussia Dortmund and its famed Westfalenstadion (also known as Signal Iduna Park) with its well-known South Bank (or better known as the Yellow Wall) where thousands of spectators line up as rabid, intense fans making it look like a yellow wall.

borussia dortmund fc football fussball Westfalenstadion popular team club membership high famous

People lining up to get into the stadium to go watch the Black and Yellow play. People have asked what does Borussia mean? It means Prussia, but in Latin.

inside borussia dortmund stadium

Here’s the stadium from the inside.

The football team is one of the most successful and most popular teams not only in Germany but also in Europe as they are seen as the challengers to expectant annual trophy winners, Bayern Munich, since they are one of 3 teams that won the Champions League (the other being Hamburger SV). That’s why people like to watch the big rivalry game when these two teams go head-to-head. Schalke, who play in the city of Gelsenkirchen which is next door, is also another big rival as well. People are big on Dortmund and come wide and far to watch this team play. The fans live and die with the team like if they were out there themselves.

setup play game time primetime

Setting up the field for play. Just look at all those fans!

rowdy yellow black fans in dortmund

With play about to start, the fans start getting rowdy and sing together…. they even sing an English song! Not a German song…. but an English one! “You’ll never walk alone.” What’s funny is that other clubs like FC Liverpool used to play and sing it as well. And don’t talk crap about the team either – the fans get pretty heated up. As I was watching the game, one of the opposing team players kicked a ball from midfield catching Borussia Dortmund’s goalie off-guard (he was playing further up-field than usual) and ended up scoring a goal. Man, were the Dortmund fans pissed off.

players jugadores in dortmund deutschland ruhr valley pitch field

Game is underway with the referee’s whistle blow and the beginning kickoff. Fans were still part of the collaborative loud noise machine maker.

I recommend going to a Borussia Dortmund game because the “Black and Yellow” are well-known in Europe as they have that brand recognition and some great players have come out of that team or have played for the team. The only problem is that the games sell out almost every game as the team has one of the largest memberships in Germany and a huge portion of their members live in the UK because many of them like the team, German football, German culture, and the fact that it’s cheaper than trying to go to a local Premier League game where you have to take out a loan! Some of the Brits even make it a weekend trip for themselves to cross the English Channel either by air, ferry, or train to watch Borussia Dortmund.

One thing to note about the fans is that while I was watching the game, Borussia was down 1-2 in the closing minutes as the opposing fans were cheering and celebrating an eventual win in their own section. Instead, Borussia came back to equalize in the last minute sending all the Borussia Dortmund fans into a hive-like frenzy that at least they will get 1 point instead of 0 points in the standings. I remember watching the opposing team fans and they were just in shock… if the Dortmund fans weren’t there, then you could have heard crickets! One of the opposing fans even threw a beer at one of the Borussia Dortmund players but it fell, well short of the target.

This is one of the teams that should be watched at least once in their stadium. But of course, tickets are difficult to obtain.

Categories: Europe | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Cologne – FC Köln and Bayer Leverkusen

Cologne (or the German spelling being: Köln) is a great industrial city in Germany that has a lot of history in it with its origins dating back to the Roman Empire days. Again, due to Germany’s involvement in World War II, Cologne got bombed heavily because it used to be one of the main German Military’s headquarters so much of the city got blown up. It has since then made a huge recovery as one of the big Rhine River area cities in Germany.

In addition to the famous Cologne Cathedral, there are bits and pieces of Roman architecture around the city, but I think the true highlights have to be the two football teams in the area: FC Köln and Bayer Leverkusen.

dom koln cologne german famous behrug tall old architecture religious religion protestant

Cologne Cathedral, right next to Cologne’s main train station. So if you happen to take the train to here, you’ll easily spot the huge cathedral sticking out at you.

FC Köln play in RheinEnergieStadion which is in the western part of the city and the people really support the team even with the presence of two other professional teams in the city: FC Viktoria Köln 1904 and SC Fortuna Köln.

RheinEnergieStadion Koln Cologne football fussball team equipo futbol religion

If you have a paper ticket, you can take the trolley to get to the game since it’s quite far west from the city center. On a nice, sunny day, people were lounging around like it was a day at the beach.

inside drinnen stadium stadion estadio cologne club

What the inside of the stadium looks like. I was told that this was one of the must-see-stadiums-in-Europe. It definitely was neat to go to.

fc koln paderborn game play spiel fussball

With everyone in their seats, people were fired up and ready to see the game get started.

Bayer Leverkusen actually do not play in Cologne but it’s nearby and accessible via train 15 minutes since the city is relatively in the same area as Cologne. As their name states, the team plays in Leverkusen, but in a stadium that looks brand new called BayArena.

BayArena Leverkusen football fussball stadion stadium rhine river sport soccer germany west

BayArena on a nice sunny day to go out to watch the team play.

inside stadium arena german club football sports

They got even a nice inside part of the stadium to let the sun and wind in. I can’t imagine that cold feeling during the winter months though… brrrr!

on the pitch sunny day great weather cologne rhine river

I went to a Leverkusen vs Frankfurt game where I saw my first hat trick – Kevin Volland put in 3 to do in, Eintracht Frankfurt.

Unfortunately, despite Bayer Leverkusen having above average results year in, year out, the team has never really been able to win a lot of trophies, having only won two major trophies as of the end of 2018. English media dubbed them as Bayer Neverkusen because their inability to have NEVER win anything big other than being “almost champions” aka 2nd place aka first place losers. For example, people thought that they would have a good year in the 2011-12 season but only to face FC Barcelona and watch Messi score 5 goals in one game. Barca almost had two hat-trick scorers (Messi had 5 and Cristian Tello had 2 with almost a third late) in that game by the way.

I would have to say the Billygoats (FC Köln’s mascot) has been the more successful club when it comes to trophies despite them being relegated more times with the last one seeing them relegated at the end of the 2017-18 season. Overall, in the Rhine-Ruhr area, there are several big-time teams that consider themselves big local rivals so it’s not just FC Köln and Bayer Leverkusen but also Fortuna Düsseldorf and Borussia Mönchengladbach, which all play in Bundesliga since Fortuna got promoted to top flight at the end of 2017-18 season. Some might even include top flight teams, Schalke and Dortmund, even though they’re more in the Ruhr area, not the Rhine River area. All the more reason to go visit the stadiums, watch a game, and enjoy what the locals do.

Categories: Europe | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Return to Mexico – Fishing in La Paz during high fishing season

I couldn’t believe it but I was able to reserve my spot for fishing on a panga down in La Paz, Mexico with Tailhunter International. However, this time was different as it was during high season (September-October), the best time to go fishing down there! For years, I’ve been trying to get a fishing trip booked during high season but I could only manage the summer times which are good for mostly Dorado, However, I wanted my chance to go after Yellowfin Tuna because the only place that I’ve caught Tuna was in Costa Rica. High season is the granddaddy of them all in La Paz because it produces the best fishing opportunities out there. Imagine Yellowtail, Dorado, Marlin/Sailfish, Tuna, and all other warm water fish species converging on one location: La Paz! The fish there are not like the trout that I caught in England or saltwater fish like Pollock in Scotland… no. The fish in Mexico are absolute feisty fighting monsters compared to European fish… unless you consider the shark I caught in Spain… that was a nasty one. But comparing the numbers of big fish that I’ve caught in my life, Mexico has consistently produced the most. On every fishing trip to La Paz, I’ve caught at least one 20+ pound fish. I cannot say the same with other places. That’s what makes La Paz so special.

I did 3 days of fishing out there and man, I was beat afterwards. I actually told the boat captain to end it early on the first day because the combination of the sun, heat, being tired (from waking up early), and fighting 10-30+ pound tunas and dorados can tire you out.

dorado bull la paz sea of cortez mar baja california mexican pesca

I caught two dorados back to back to start off the first day of fishing in La Paz.

catching landing tuna atrapar pescar sostener obtener pez atun amarilla aleta yellowfin hard fighting red blooded fish

Catching those 2 dorados was just the beginning as I ended up catching 5 tunas for the day (and I even ended it early for the first time in my life). The boat captain was cutting an artery so they don’t whack around in the boat so much and cause a broken bone or so.

tuna panga boat trolling troll blue seas water sunny day hot

First Tuna of the day!

yellowfin tuna heavy hard fish to catch migatory pez migatorio

Now I can finally pose with my first Mexican Yellowfin Tuna. 3rd one of my life since the first two were caught in Costa Rica.

Fighting tuna rod bend bending heavy line

You can see the rod bending as I’m fighting to bring in a tuna.

second tuna segundo another fish

My second tuna of the day!

mahi mahi dolphinfish brillantly colored baja waters blunt head jumping

On the second day, I went to the Las Arenas side but it was a lot slower. Only catching 2 Dorado and some Cabrillas (seabass).

tuna pargo reef fish barred colored baja water saltwater fishing

The third day of fishing produced some great fish as well with some of the fish being thrown back. Here in this picture are two tunas flanking the two Pargos with a triggerfish right on top. Triggerfish is great for ceviche by the way.

mexican pizza sashimi tuna seasoned raw fish sushi

Looks like a pizza but it’s actually a plate of sashimi, yellowfin tuna!

different style of cooking tuna

This was yellowfin tuna in salsa verde with some cheese over it.

It’s been a great year of fishing so far in 2018! And I have much more to go before this year ends so I’m looking forward to more and more fish being caught! This fishing trip has been a great one. The euphoric feeling of accomplishment completely eclipses that of my favorite football team, FC Barcelona, winning trophies like the Champions League trophy. Well…. maybe….

 

Contact for fishing:

Tailhunter International

https://www.tailhunter.com/

Categories: Cuisine and Drinks, Hunting and Fishing, Latin America, North America | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Antwerp and Brussels, Belgium

Antwerp is an underrated city in my opinion, but if you have only one city to go see then make it Brussels. In actuality, there is a lot to see in both cities but I spent more time in Brussels so I’m more familiar with it than Antwerp. The problem with Antwerp is that the city got bombed out during World War II so many historical places of interest were destroyed. The Germans during their retreat fired a ton of missiles and bombs trying to destroy the port of Antwerp to prevent the Allies from using it as a strategic seaport to bring in war material, supplies, and troops. Nevertheless, the city and the port survived despite some of its history being lost.

cathedral belgian brussels belgium port kirsche dom religion architecture

This is the impressive Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp.

french flag lights city hall antwerp luz luces rojo blanco azul colores de la bandera de Francia night life time

The Stadhuis (or better known as City Hall) of Antwerp is lit up at night. Interestingly, it’s lit up in the pattern of the French flag….

Brussels, the capital of Belgium, on the other hand was spared the bombings and damage. It was practically liberated with ease compared to other major cities where the fighting and bombings were more fierce. Regardless, the city decided to renovate anyways in order to expand the city out and put in more modern infrastructure in order to keep up with the times.

In addition to the old buildings that dot the city, Brussels also has a lot of modernization to make it a more cosmopolitan city.

EU HQ building gebaude edificio de gobierno government euro

As I was walking, I could see this huge glass building with security walking around only to figure out that this is one of the European Union buildings. The HQ is located in Brussels and so there are a lot of EU bureaucratic buildings around the city.

brussels cathedral belgium french dutch

Another tall cathedral in Europe… this one being in Brussels.

There are also museums abound in this Belgian capital with two that caught my eye that I wanted to go to: the Belgian Military Museum and Autoworld, which is a collection of antique cars with some of them really rare and very expensive to buy on the open market.

Parc du Cinquantenaire

To get to either the Belgian Military Museum or Autoworld, I had to walk to the Triumphal Arch, a gate that oversees Jubelpark which was supposed to be as a military exercise ground. Nowadays, it’s a large wide-open public park.

Triumphal Arch other side

Here’s the other side of the Triumphal Arch with both Belgian Military Museum and Autoworld occupying the north and south sides of this massive “C” shaped building that surrounds the park.

bmw bug frame outside wire shell

Ever seen a BMW bug with just its wiry frame? You can see this in Autoworld.

cadillac in autoworld car museum black car auto schwarz

It looks like a Cadillac to me. Just needs some Dinosaurs then you can remake that arcade videogame “Cadillacs and Dinosaurs”…. or maybe not.

lots of cars museum famous belgium tour attraction

Autoworld was kind of like a collection of all these cars. Not specialized like the other car museums that I went to but still a lot of cars in there. And no, they are not micro-machines (the toys) despite what the photo might make it look like they’re small.

tanks panzers belgian war

Right across from Autoworld was the Belgian Military Museum. The biggest highlight there was the tanks!

tanks long barrels sun museum

These ones have bigger barrels than the ones on the left. They’re probably also more modernized.

Brussels also has two other attractions which some people may or may not like. I went anyways just to take a look but I really wanted to go. You need a car to go up there as these places are not exactly in central Brussels but more northern Brussels: the Atomium and Mini-Europe.

atom building gebaude in Belgien silver grey symbol status atom

Like all major cities which has a famous landmark, Brussels gets this Atomium. You can actually go inside if you are willing to wait all those hours with all those tourists.

miniature europe mini small buildings landmarks famous tourist attractions small world

It’s Mini-Europe… even though I was in Europe which makes it even funnier since I was in Europe to see smaller replicas of famous European landmarks even though I could go see them.

mini smaller brandenburg gate berlin wall

Here’s a mini-version of the Brandenburg Gate even though I’ve actually was there. This one was different considering it had the Berlin Wall replica but during the Cold War era. I guess it’s more of a place for little kids…. would have been better if it was more like Legoland.

example of mini-europe l'exemple

Here’s another good example of Mini-Europe…. I’m not sure where this location is at. But it does look almost real doesn’t it?

And if you’ve read and seen about Brussels then you know that most people talk about Grand Place, which is a grand square, probably the most important and well-known tourist attractions for all of Brussels and maybe even Belgium. There are tons of stores and restaurants there which serve good food including waffles which is a big thing in that country. There’s also another smaller attraction there – the Mannekin Pis. I’m not sure why people are so into a little boy pissing statue but I didn’t know it was there until I walked by it by accident. And no, I didn’t care to take a picture of it unlike the many tourists surrounding it. I understand the humor aspect of it, but….. it’s just humor. Don’t take it serious. Instead, go to the Grand Place and eat some waffles!

grand place brussels symbol city capital of brussels

It’s Grand Place or Plaza in Brussels. A lot of restaurants and lots of people. Beware of the beggars out there who might swipe your wallet if you’re not careful. It’s a lot different from the Mini-Europe version and smells even better in person because of the food!

 

Categories: Europe | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Waterloo, Belgium – where Napoleon lost his empire to the Duke of Wellington

If you’re in Belgium, then it makes sense to try to break out to make it out to Waterloo, the grand battle-site where Napoleon lost to Duke of Wellington. This was during Napoleon’s 100 days when he tried to reclaim the Emperor of France throne but lost to the combined allied forces who had no desire to see French dominance in Europe. Napoleon was an excellent military leader, one of the best generals that the world has ever seen due to his ability to utilize tactics to his advantage. However, this time, the Duke of Wellington got the better of him.

War Memorial 1815 waterloo duke of wellington napoleon 100 days hundred cien dias

It’s called the War Memorial 1815 and not just Waterloo because that is the name of the closest town back then. The town has sure grown over the years and the good thing is that the Belgians would not allow any buildings built on the battlefield. Instead, it’s just farmland all around the War Memorial. Must be nice knowing that the fields were well-fertilized years ago with soldier corpses….

If you go to Waterloo, the site of the grand battle, you can see how the Duke used the terrain to his advantage. In addition, there were other factors that played to the Duke’s advantage and to the French military’s disadvantage. You can read and see all about it if you are there where they had built a museum and of course, the Lion of Waterloo, where there is an elevated, man-made hill which shows how the Duke saw fit to make this Napoleon’s last stop in military affairs.

French Guillotine off with the head cut sever french royals rich people socialism

Didja know that they had a French Guillotine in the museum? I guess we know where Karl Marx got his idea of socialism from – cutting heads of rich people and royalty to feed the poor. Or was it the other way around?…. and everything was mis-interpreted?

adentro museo musee war memorial 1815 waterloo napoleon bonaparte french military general leader emperor

Lots of interactive stuff in the museum. If you read some of the stuff, you’ll find out that there was really bad weather (heavy winds preventing a fire from being started) prior to the Battle of Waterloo which the French troops suffered badly in terms of physical strength and morale, which might have played a big role in Napoleon’s defeat.

war memorial stairs treppe escaleras hill colima

“Git up there!” Another reason to go to the gym and stay in shape so you can run up the stairs and see the great view up there. Notice that it was a nice sunny day meaning that you can see the terrain advantage by the Duke of Wellington.

look up the hill leon lion Lowe

Before you go up – you can look up and see the end goal in sight.

lion of waterloo sunny clear blue skies

Depending on the season, this topside can get crowded so I couldn’t really get a good photo. So all I got was this photo of the Lion perched on top signifying the Battle of Waterloo as one of the significant events in European history.

Napoleon’s loss at Waterloo resulted in his exile to St. Helena where he died several years later supposedly due to poison. France never regained his throne ever again after Napoleon’s departure and this of course, resulted in the allies England, Prussia (along with other German states), Austria-Hungary, and Russia to rise in power, dominance, and prominence. And what did result in? Well, some may argue that it did eventually cause a World War I… and II…

Categories: Europe | Tags: | Leave a comment