Germany’s Streets: Bonkers and Beautiful

Germany’s Streets: Bonkers and Beautiful

It was hard to tell if the bewigged singer on a pop-up stage in a courtyard here in Erfurt was a Freddie Mercury tribute act or a fan of Graeme Souness and Terry McDermott.

Either way, he was singing ABBA songs and the locals were drinking beer from a watering can. It was like a bad dream. Correction, a good dream.

This was bonkers and beautiful. On every street corner in this medieval town was a band — all part of an open-air festival to celebrate the summer solstice. The quality of the vocals ranged from average to offensive but it mattered not, the mood was as warm as the June night.

I had wandered from my hotel full of good intentions to watch France versus the Netherlands on my own. I wanted to take in the game. Instead, I was swept up in the sea of song that coursed through the cobbled streets.

The football was aired on TVs around Erfurt’s various squares, but no-one was watching.

Mail Sport’s Craig Hope got swept up in an open-air festival in Erfurt…but elsewhere the football has been inescapable

Germany is struggling to cope with the influx of fans - and a lot of the issues are down to UEFA

Germany is struggling to cope with the influx of fans – and a lot of the issues are down to UEFA

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That’s not to say there’s no interest in the football — when Germany play the roars from the bars and ‘Platze’ tell you the hosts have scored when, as is often the case, their images are ahead of my own. This feels like a country fully invested in their team.

But for all of that joy, it still feels like a country struggling to copeLISTEN to It’s All Kicking Off! ‘The Luke Shaw call by Gareth Southgate has been an absolute stinker! It was another mistake and left England so lopsided with all the visiting fans.

Our trains to Frankfurt were on time but chaos reigns elsewhere, most notably in Gelsenkirchen, where England will return if they win Group C.

A lot of the issues are down to UEFA’s organisation as much as the German infrastructure.

One example — and I realise there will be no violins for us journalists — but UEFA didn’t allow taxis to get close to the stadium in Frankfurt.

It brought a whole new meaning to Forest away when we were told the only way to reach the ground from the motorway drop-off was by walking through a forest.

On the basis of what then played out on the pitch between England and Denmark, the forest adventure was something of a highlight.


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