Bundesliga 2 game: VfB Stuttgart vs St. Pauli

I have seen VfB Stuttgart play last season twice when they played against Schalke and against Eintracht Frankfurt, however, in both games, Stuttgart lost those games which didn’t help the team down the line last season when they faced off in the Bundesliga relegation playoffs, playing against (at that time second league) Union Berlin. Union, however, pulled it off by winning the playoffs which sent the Union to the first league for the first time in club history. This left VfB Stuttgart holding the empty bag and slapped back down to the second league, where they just got promoted from the previous season. Oh well, it happens. That’s football. That’s sports – you just don’t know when someone wakes up on the right side of the bed to shock everyone.

mercedes benz sponsors valley city SW german germany old team second first bundesliga team league

It’s August and it’s raining… that is NOT summer. Can the football gods at least give us some good weather since it’s summertime?

However, I didn’t go to Stuttgart to watch the home team play. No, instead I went to Stuttgart to go watch St. Pauli play! Tickets to their home games in Hamburg, Germany are absolutely impossible to obtain as they are sold out all the time due to having a cult-like fan base (as well as more season-ticket holders than seats available!). Now granted that their home station, Millerntor-Stadion, is almost half the capacity of Volksparkstadion, home stadium of their crosstown rivals, Hamburger SV, which makes the tickets much more difficult to find in addition to all the season ticket holders hoarding all the tickets. So that was my reason why I decided that I would go to a St. Pauli away game to watch not just the team but also their supporters who are also known as hardcore leftist politics fans. St. Pauli (also known in Germany as Sankt Pauli (German spelling)), however, the team did not start off well in the season compared to last year when they were threatening to be near the top of 2nd league and attempt to get promoted. This year… not so much as they are near the bottom of the rankings. Of course, things could change over time like what happened to Hamburg SV when they were in first place one year but slowly over time lost their place and almost got the relegation treatment. I think the following year the team finally got relegated.

hamburg other team football cult-like following braun weiss team hamburger fans northern germany passion fervor crazy leftist

The crazy, old St. Pauli fans cheering on their team from Hamburg. For being visiting fans, they were probably the loudest that I’ve heard for any visiting team in Europe. They sure are passionate about their team.

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Known as the teams with the brown and white colors, the St. Pauli players come out to warm up in the rain.

Because of the severe World War II bombings of Stuttgart during the 1940s, the city does not really have any super-standout attractions other than the car museums and the major football club. So, it might be a good idea to make Stuttgart one of those passing through cities or a quick stay over to go elsewhere or going to a football game. I think Stuttgart is playing a little bit better this year only because they are not going against the top talents in the first league.

In this game, I still saw the same struggles that they made last year that the team cannot pass effectively which means they can’t score effectively which in turn means that they can’t win games that well. Stuttgart had some problems getting it going against St. Pauli, which after watching the team play for awhile, appeared to be a counter-attacking team like Paderborn or Schalke in the Bundesliga. That’s how the team went up 1-0 in the first half nullifying all the other good attempts at goal scoring by Stuttgart. However, Stuttgart turned up the pressure against St. Pauli, despite the bumbling and stumbling of their offense at times, to score and equalize in the second half! Off of a corner kick which stayed on the ground instead of being airborne.

german fussball tourism bundesliga soccer league southern germany FC stuttgart futbol de alemania la ligue d'Allemagne le foot l'esport deporte de alemania el turismo

Stuttgart (the team in black colors) would vary their playing style by going from a 3-5-2 to 4-3-1-2 to 5-2-3. Almost the entire game, the team was in attack mode which paid off in the end especially with their second goal.

After some more back and forth, Stuttgart scores it in the last minute to pretty much wrap up the 3 points! The home fans go wildly crazy as the St. Pauli fans are in complete shock. It was just pandemonium to the max that even a fan ran out onto the field! Luckily, nothing happened as security immediately grabbed him and escorted him with force off the field. That was the first time that I have ever seen that happen in a game where a fan jumped out onto the field. I’ve seen it in the United States and on TV but never in a live game in Europe. I guess you go crazy when your team does great things…. or bad things.

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First time being at a DFL Pokal (German Cup) game! SV Wehen Wiesbaden vs FC Köln

Almost every European country has its own cup game that usually involves several divisions among its football league. So basically, some (but not all) fourth league teams, third league teams and second league teams get the opportunity to play against the first league teams. There are shockers when a lower-ranked team will knock off a higher league team so it does happen. To me, the first rounds are basically a gate-ticket opportunity for the lower-ranked teams to sell tickets since a big-time team will be coming to town. After the first few rounds is when things get super serious and you can easily figure out who’s who – the contenders, not the pretenders.

In this game, it was SV Wehen Wiesbaden vs FC Köln with FC Köln being the visiting team and after spending one season in the second league and winning it, the team is back to the first league as it should. Wiesbaden has also been promoted, going from third league to second league after being in third place of the third league and winning the relegation/promotion playoffs. The team has started seeing some success after spending quite a bit of time in the regional and third leagues, but maybe it’s finally time for the team to see success finally? Who knows… they could do well or do badly to where they get relegated back down to third league.

dfl pokal german cup round 1 one game spiel deustche fussball liga bundesliga

Both teams were gearing up for the initial whistle to start off the game which would turn out to be a great one.

But this game was a great game as Wiesbaden kept putting the heavy pressure onto FC Köln in the beginning. A bit different when Paderborn last year when Paderborn would just counterattack and win the game that way. Wiesbaden would high press and attack from all sides but FC Köln was just too resilient and ended up scoring 2 goals in the first half. But after the halftime break, Wiesbaden continued its relentless attack and scored its first and second goals to tie the game, shocking the visiting team and visiting fans. As the final horn sounds, it’s time to go into overtime as these games are not considering away goals advantage. Nothing happened in the first overtime, but in the second overtime, FC Köln strikes a third goal to put the home team away… until Wiesbaden in complete desperation manages to equalize with its third goal!

SV Wehen Wiesbaden stadium arena pitch green fans soccer rainy day

It’s hard to tell from this picture but to the right, is a construction side. I believe the team, with its great recent success, has decided to make some upgrades to the stadium especially if the team makes it to top flight football. One of the footballs actually flew over into the construction side – oops.

The game goes into the penalty shootout which was a roller coaster as well! Blocked shots, massive pressure…. it had it all but Köln wins in the end by scoring the last and definitive winner but I could see that both sides were tired. Köln was pushed to the limits.

rainbow football game soccer bundesliga germany deutschland hessen

Near the game’s end, there was a rainbow because of all the rain throughout the game which made for some slippery moments. Some might have wondered if this was a sign for Wiesbaden to win because last year, the team knocked off St. Pauli in a surprise upset.

The game was just wild, wacky, and fun. Despite the Police Chief of Wiesbaden making a speech to the fans to behave properly, nothing really bad happened other than people were throwing beer when the home team scored. People threw beer at the opposing players (because Brita Arena is smaller than most stadiums, bench players that warm up near the end sideline are a lot closer and within throwing distance) which is a complete no-no. I remember even when Wiesbaden equalized on the second and third goals, the fans threw beer in celebration and a couple fans jumped on the railing!

Overall, it was a great game as both teams were pushed to their limits going all the way to the penalty shootout which you don’t see much unless it was a deadlock which in this game, it was.

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Three days of fishing in the Czech Republic – Looking for wild fish like the slimy Wels Catfish

After the first time fishing in the Czech Republic where I caught a ton of Carp, it was time to go after some catfish but this requires low level light requirements. Yes! Night fishing! Not the safest nor the most rewarding but it can be productive! I’ve caught catfish before but they were really small so for me to go after giant catfish like these Wels Catfish is an entirely different challenge. There are some different tactics required for this as the really big ones can be dangerous. Some have even reported to knock people into the water in attempt to swallow and taste humanflesh! There have been some spectacular stories out there which might have been true stories, not myths. Of course, if I really wanted to catch a giant catfish, that might take… what? 1-3 weeks? Yeah, I don’t think I’ll be doing that.

The beginning part of the day was basically fishing off of a boat in the morning until noon. Unfortunately, the bites were slow and far from each other to where I only got 2 bites – the fish didn’t really chomp down hard enough to where I could set the hook. The fishing conditions were not great either as there was no wind nor current which help move along in the river looking for fish.

To start the second part of the day, I caught a few Chubs while using a lighter rod on a river that has much faster current. Despite the bugs attacking me, I managed to keep trying my best at casting before we moved onto another location as the sun started its descent. Despite a few more bites, I sat down for a minute before all of a sudden the bell indicator on one of the main rods started ringing and shaking. Fish on! I fought the fish for a bit as it tumbled and toiled in the rapids before I got a visual on it in the dark. It looked like an eel but after getting it in the net, it was a European catfish, a Wels Catfish! My first one! It wasn’t big nor too small – about 4-5 kgs (10-12 pounds) but it was another fish being checked off of the bucket list!

After releasing the fish, I waited some more with my fishing guide hoping for another bite but we could see in the distance that a thunderstorm was coming. Rain is not an issue but the prevailing wind and lightning strikes can be issues. So just as we were starting to pack up and leave, bam! The bells on the other fishing rod started ringing – another fish! I jumped over there and set the hook to start reeling in the fish. As I reeled in the fish in, I noticed that it had a very different shape – it was no catfish. It looked like a Zander or even a big Chub actually until my fishing guide said that it was an Asp. Different fish species. Wow. That’s exciting to catch something new!

wels catfish fighting night fishing bells hooks fish prague czechia

With the bells ringing and the rod shaking, it was FISH ON! Time to go to work and reel in my first Wels Catfish. Of course, I didn’t know that it was a Wels until the fish was closer to shore and I could see it more clearly.

oof smelly slimy catfish european europe freshwater agua dulce long slender fish

Finally! It’s in the net meaning that it’s officially caught. First time that I caught a catfish in Europe and this big! But gosh, is this fish slimy and smelly.

Slimy Wels Catfish European pez de gato prague tourism adventure fishing pesca hard to do

Even this slimy, stinky Wels Catfish requires a fish dentist to get the hook pulled out. It’s even harder when it’s late at night and hard to see.

catfish long slender snake like fishy

It’s what? Maybe 5-6 kilograms (10-12 pounds)? He stinks a lot. Good thing people don’t eat these because if they do, it’s goodbye to good breath for life.

Asp fish predatory european europe czech middle

At first, I thought I landed a huge Chub or even a Zander because of the silverly body. But upon looking at it closer, my guide said that it was an Asp, not an Ass. Asp is a type of predatory fish but for some reason, took some worms.

On the second day, due to weather conditions, it was going to be far better if I went fly fishing so the change was made and off I went! My fishing guide said that the wild trout are very active especially as the sun sets and there is a bug hatch. He was right. I didn’t really get any bites during the day at all. It was only during the last part of the day, the last hour or so was when I started getting bites to where I landed both a wild brown trout and rainbow trout. I didn’t have time to really take a picture of them since both were far small compared to the fish that I’ve caught in the past and not to mention, I wanted to start casting right back out again because the fish were munching away during the bug hatch.

rainbow brown trout fly fishing in czech republic

The fishing at this river was at its best during the last hour of sunlight when the fish seemed to go crazy after the bug hatch. It doesn’t like there is fish but there are.

fly fishing brown trout bug hatch wild river creek

It’s not a good photo but I hooked and landed this wild Brown Trout. My first success on the second day after going on a “blank” but not on this day! Going to catch something at least!

One amazing part was when I cast this one trout 5 times and he kept missing the fly! I think it was starting to get pretty dark so the fish was unable to hit it properly. I cast to him 4 straight times and all misses. Then I cast to another area where I saw a fish but couldn’t get him to bite so I tried the trout that missed 4 times. A 5th time! But unfortunately, again another miss. I was astounded to see that because usually trout will give you a maximum of 1-2 times to cast and hook them. That’s it. If not, then no more chances until maybe the next day.

The third day was the finale which reminded me of a machine gun day – fish, fish, fish! Intermittent hooking and landing fish throughout the day on a nice river where I had to watch the tip of the rod to make sure that fish were not stealing my bait aka me feeding the fish. No, I had to strike and set the hook when they were feeding and had the hook in their mouths. I must have caught 20, 30+ fish on this day ranging from Common Carp, Crucian Carp, Roach, Bream, and Silver Bream. I even reeled in a small Wels Catfish as well!

silver bream fish european

I’ve caught Bream before but this was a Silver Bream, more chrome-colored than the usual Bream. I caught a lot of these Common and some Silver Bream throughout the day.

wild carp hard fighter fishing

Unlike catching Carp in the Carp Ponds, these wild Carp are better fighters because they’ve had to earn their right to live and fighting off predators. They still take off like fish rockets when hooked that even the bigger ones like this one can still give a nice fight. This one is about 3-4 kgs (6-8+ pounds). Of course, there are bigger ones out there but this is a wild one, no beer bellies like the ones in Carp farms.

black carp royalty fish wild

Check out this nice black-colored Carp. Usually, these fish are more brownish or gray or green, but not this one. I’ve never seen a fish with black scales like this one! Very unique type of fish!

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A baby Wels Catfish which was very untypical for catching one during the daytime but I figured that this fish would learn. For a young Wels Catfish, you can see the great marbling on its skin as well as the long whiskers. A vast difference from the big one that I caught on the first day or night. Probably this was due to seeing the fish at night time.

Czech Republic has a secret – you can fish there and do well! In 3 days of fishing, I caught 10 different species of fish! That’s a lot there!

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Fishing in the Spanish Pyrenees – Fishing for Zebra Trout

Now there must be a good, damn reason why I went to the Pyrenees, correct? Yes! Another fishing trip for this elusive fish species: Zebra Trout! I’ve never even heard of this type of trout before so after doing some reading about the possibilities of catching them only in the Pyrenees, I knew that I had to do this fly fishing for them. An unusual fish species… well, kind of. More like a subspecies of a Brown Trout that somehow got cut off from the rest of the Europe during the Ice Age. Well… that’s what people say. Zebra Trout is not a separate fish/trout species. It’s actually a subspecies of Brown Trout due to the black vertical markings on each side of the body.

I was extremely excited on this day as I was hoping for great success, bigger than the last time I fished which happened to be a 7 pound pike in the UK. Spain has always been good to me since the last time I fished in Spain, I ended up fighting a 110 kg (240 pound) thresher shark and landed it! My all-time best, heaviest fish caught so far so I’m looking for some similar excitement and a good catch as well. Of course, fishing in alpine/mountainous rivers and creeks don’t always produce monsters but you just never know. I pulled up a 14 pound lingcod out of nowhere not really expecting it.

mountain creek water

There’s water… but fish? You just have to look hard and test it with a fly line.

mountain Spain pyrenees fishing la pesca trucha zebra marron

It doesn’t look like much in this creek with no big trees around but it can be productive fishing! These Zebra Trout will surprise you.

At first, I have to admit that it was challenging because I knew how to fly fish with my most recent trip not too long ago fly-fishing in the UK but because I was using a lighter rod with a lighter line being used on narrower water lanes aka a creek, let’s just say that it’s been awhile since I did this. I think I missed the first ten trout by being too late on getting that hook set. But then I changed tactics to be much faster on setting the hook and that’s when I finally started landing these fish! My first hookup and land was a tiny Zebra Trout, my intended fish species! In these waters where there isn’t a lot of food sources, the fish tend to be a lot smaller so there aren’t any trophy-sized fish here.

zebra trout fishing spain spanish

I caught a ton of these Zebra Trout but they are challenging. This is an up-close picture of one of the Zebra Trout. The black vertical markings are what make these fish different from regular Brown Trout.

small zebra trout fly fishing pesca con la mosca

Here’s my proof that I’ve landed Zebra Trout. Yes, yes, the fish are small.

brown trout in midst of Zebra Trout

I also managed to catch a regular Brown Trout as well. This was probably my biggest fish for the day. Haha.

Overall, I had a lot of fun catching these tiny fish because it’s not that easy having to cast with a fly rod (sometimes a little far at times to get the proper distance) and accurately aim the area you want while being ready to set the hook. I must have caught about 80 of these fish in two days and probably lost close to 50 fish. My guide was telling me that most people that go to these creeks only catch about 15 fish in a SINGLE day! What??? I caught 80 of them in 2 days even though it’s been years since the last time I went mountain creek fly-fishing! I must have transferred that big game fly-fishing skills to the Pyrenees!

zebra trout trucha en Espana Huesca

On my second day, I caught a lot more Zebra Trout. Thanks to the previous day’s experience, I landed a lot more fish than losing them. There was quite a big section of the river where it was deep enough for multiple Zebra Trout hanging around. I landed a few including this one which was probably my biggest fish on the second day.

small zebra trout

These Zebra Trout are generally small when fishing in mountain creeks. And luckily for me, it was just me and my guide who was showing me where to fish. I caught almost 80 fish in 2 days!

Luckily, after one day of fishing, I was able to complete my task at hand: catching a Zebra Trout. So instead of needing two days, I completed the task on the first day with the second day being more of fishing for a much bigger fish but sometimes you cannot force it to happen. Unlike the failures in Slovenia for Danube Salmon and in Scotland for Atlantic Salmon, I was able to catch a specific European fish species for once! No more failure juice for me back at the hotel and airport! You can pour that right into the toilet and not on the fabric making all those stains on it. I guess the biggest fish that I caught was about 25-30 cm long despite catching about 80 of them. That’s just how it is, but a lot of fun.

Some requirements should be heeded before doing this – make sure you know how to fish, know how to fly fish with a floating line and dry fly (and practice it like I did in the UK about a month prior to this trip), be in shape (there is a lot of hiking and walking around!) and know Spanish. You could get an English-speaking guide but it happened to be that my guide was Spanish only. It kind of reminded me of the fishing that I did in La Paz, Mexico, on the San Juan River in Nicaragua, and out in the jungle of Peru: these people are only speaking Spanish. English might be understood to a small extent, but my Spanish fishing guide was not as well versed as the other European guides in Madeira, Azores, Iceland, Slovenia, and Czech Republic since they see a lot more tourists so they are able to learn the language quicker. You could go without knowledge of Spanish but it might make it tougher to communicate any advanced tactics. Usually though once the guide sees how you fish, then he might not say much at all if you know what you are doing. So if you catch less than 15 in one day then there’s probably something wrong with your fly-fishing ability and knowing Spanish would probably help a LOT.


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Spain – Visiting the Pyrenees

Due to the climbing temperatures of the summer nuclear heat, I thought it might be a good idea to try to escape the burning weather’s oppression by going inland up into the mountains of the Pyrenees, the mountain range between Spain and France (which has also conveniently been a natural border as well between the two countries and reminded me of Andorra). It’s probably a surprise that I went back to Spain by going to Barcelona but no: no FC Barcelona game this time around, unfortunately. Instead, it’s a natural way to inhale some fresh mountain air and green scenery instead of car smog, buildings, and going shoulder-to-shoulder with other tourists.

The small town that I stayed in was Biescas, right in the Pyrenees mountain range area. It’s a small, quiet town where there is a great view of the mountains and valleys and yes, the weather is a bit cooler in this area during summer compared to other places of Spain where it’s scorching red hot. Higher elevations do help in reducing the heat thanks to the cool air coming down from the mountains.

In Biescas, a quaint little mountain village like any other in Spain, it was quite nice with the dearth of tourists in this part of Spain since places like Barcelona, Madrid, and beach places like Costa del Sol and Mallorca would be overfilling to the brim with nothing but tourist crowds and rising temperatures. But another reason why there weren’t that many people where I was at is because many Spaniards who live inland will generally take their vacations in the summertime to the coastal areas where it’s a lot cooler than inland since Spain is very hilly and/or plateau-like. This causes heat to rise as well as the sun is bearing down heat at a shorter distance especially during the summer unless you get that cool breeze off the mountains. In my opinion, this is a good time to check out the Pyrenees because during other times, there might be a lot of rain and/or snow so it might be harder to visit or you don’t want to visit.

mayor city council small town house office Spanish Spain Pyrenees

This is the Ayuntamiento De Biescas or Biescas City Council. It happens to be placed pretty much in the center of the small town with a water fountain in the middle of it. Nice little place.

church small town

The town has two churches or parishes. This is Iglesia De San Pedro Apostol or the Church of San Peter the Apostle. You can actually see the church’s tower from afar.

Parish of the Savior church faith

The other religious place, the Parish of the Savior.

Biescas Huesca chimney chimneo

Another interesting thing about this town is that some of the older buildings have the old-style chimney like the one on this house. It’s unique to this area.

Tip: The people don’t speak a lot of English so learn Spanish! There is a reason for no English since the locals don’t really see a lot of tourists in these small towns which makes sense unless it’s a tourist spot.

Tip: Spain has a lot of toll roads for some reason so I recommend taking the trains if traveling inland. The rail company in Spain is RENFE which has a website in English as well where you can search the train schedule and buy train tickets. The main train station in Barcelona is Sants station which is not far from Camp Nou. So if you have time, you can do the Camp Nou stadium and FC Barcelona museum tour before you head off to other places of Spain.

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