Good Luck in Bavaria — Just Not For Germany!

The second stage of our visit to Germany was our primary tourist time in Deutschland, and we had planned to spend it in Bavaria. Although the US Soccer Team didn’t join us there, we had a great time — and some very surprising good luck.

We spent Friday in the old city center of Nuremburg, enjoying lunch and dinner in the historical Hauptmarkt. It was delightful afternoon and evening spent in an incredible German town. But our day was also filled with happenstance, as we strolled without direction, unsure where our path would take us, uncertain where we would even spend the night. The US National Team’s loss to Sweden had left us without a clear path through Germany, and when we were unable to secure tickets to the game in Dresden, it seemed our bad luck would continue.

100_2253 100_2251And then our luck changed. Although we didn’t know it at the time.

Quite by accident, we had discovered the Schoner Brunnen Fountain, situated on one end of the Hauptmarkt, and originally built in the late 1300s. Its exquisite craftsmanship was immediately apparent, but we wondered about a unique brass ring affixed to the otherwise wrought iron outer fencing. What we have since discovered the myth relating to the ring. Stories suggest it was added by an apprentice of the original artist trying to show his aptitude. Today, it is said to be a Gl├╝cksbringer, which is like a lucky charm … and that rotating the ring three times brings you good luck.

DSC00447We spent the rest of the day in Nuremberg, especially enjoying the city’s municipal Toy Museum with its impressive collection of wooden toys, doll houses, and even teddy bears.

The museum had a very thorough take on the social and technological evolution of toys, which was interesting to all of us.

Later, we would purchase our own set of souvenir German National Team jerseys for the entire family and enjoy a traditional meal. But a very curious thing happened when we bought those jerseys in Nuremberg, and it wasn’t good. During the purchase, the clerk gave us four star pins, meant to be added to the German jerseys. The problem was that these were FIFA Championship Stars, stars that adorn jerseys for national teams that win the World Cup. And Germany hadn’t won the World Cup yet. It struck me at the time as a massive jinx on the country’s success.

Saturday: Castles and German Football

100_2337After spending the night in Munich, we awoke Saturday and drove through Augsburg to the town of Fusson and the famous Neuschwanstein Castle, which sits in fairy-tale fashion on a hill high above a picturesque valley (and over Jocelyn’s shoulder in this picture).

The day also included a ride down an alpine luge track at the nearby Tegelbergbahn ski resort. Afterwards, we drove directly to Augsburg, where our developing good luck guided us swiftly to a local square for outdoor viewing of the days’ World Cup matches. We arrived at the square right at kick-off of the England-France Quarterfinal, which we we took as a brilliant stroke of good luck!

#WWC Crowd in Augsburg, GermanyBut there would be no luck for Germany. Despite the energy and enthusiasm from about 1000 of our hosts, the German national Team would lose to Japan in a thrilling extra-time match.

We were absolutely crushed on behalf of our hosts, who had embraced this tournament so thoroughly and impressively.

Sunday: USA’s Miracle vs Brazil …

No, we weren’t there. But since we touched that ring in Nuremberg, it was all us!

And what luck the US team would need too! … But first, we had to use those tickets for the game that didn’t include the US. The game itself between Sweden and Australia would turn out to be the least compelling of the quarterfinals, with the Swedes staking an early lead that the Aussies never really threatened. At least we got a good picture:

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We had a great time, of course, even though it wasn’t the game we’d hoped it would be. That would come later when we gathered back in Augsburg Stadt to watch the United States face Brazil in the last quarterfinal of the tournament.

DSC00601 We were joined by the Tennessee Martins — and about 500 other US fans (undoubtedly stuck in the same non-Dresden boat we were).

DSC00597By now, you know what happened. Unfairly relegated to the role of unlucky losers by a referee’s triple-failure of a soft penalty kick call, a harsh red card, and an outrageous PK retake (not to mention the missed offside on Brazil’s second goal), the US was on the brink of elimination in stoppage-time of extra-time. And then Abby Wambach headed a perfect cross from Megan Rapinoe into the net to send the game to penalty kicks, where the US would triumph to advance to the semi-finals. … And there was uncontrollable jubilation and much hugging of strangers in a square in Augsburg, Germany!

All because we touched the brass ring in Nurnberg. You’re welcome!