After years talking about watching football in Germany, we finally made it to a Bundesliga match two weekends ago, heading to Dortmund to watch Borussia Dortmund and celebrate Dyl’s 30th birthday.
Founded in 1909 by a group of football players, Borussia Dortmund were one of the founding members of the Bundesliga in 1963. Relegated four times in 54 years, they have won eight Bundesliga titles and were also the first German club to win a European title – the then Cup Winners’ Cup win in 1966.
Their fans have a reputation as some of the most passionate in the world and the club enjoys the highest average attendance of any football club world – wide, 80,520 (the capacity is 81,359!).
The Westfalenstadion is the largest stadium in Germany, and the sixth largest in Europe, and unlike the stadia in other parts of Europe, is both seated and standing. FIFA rules actually don’t allow standing so for international matches, the capacity reduces to (a mere) 63,000 seats.
We flew into Cologne after work on Friday and enjoyed a wonderfully festive night out – the winter carnival was due in town a few days after us and so the city was awash in fancy dress as people ‘practiced’ their outfits.
After too many delicious German beers and far too little sleep, we caught an early morning train to Bochum, just over an hour away. Cologne was significantly cheaper to fly into and Bochum, a small town 10 minutes outside Dortmund, had far cheaper accommodation. (All ‘practical information’ can be found at the bottom of this article).
Everyone was feeling rather tender after the big night but a delicious hearty lunch, and of course a few more delicious beers, sorted us out very quickly. The venue was the Hovels brewery, an easy 10 minute walk from the station, and I had this schnitzel with bacon bits and an egg – sort of a German fry-up!
There wasn’t a particularly special atmosphere as we made our way across town to the stadium and we didn’t pass any pubs en route so you wouldn’t be missing much if you caught a train to the stain just outside the stadium.
While it may have been quite on the street, there was a good atmosphere around the stadium. The stadium itself is a traditional square design with steep, tall stands and unlike the UK and most of Europe in fact, both the South and North stands are standing. We had tickets in the North Stand and it was a unique experience to stand. We arrived just a few minutes before kick-off and could barely make it up the stairs before squeezing our way over to the fence in the corner, with beer in hand – another new experience. You could see how things could get out of control very quickly!
Unfortunately the famous Die Gelbe Wand, the ‘Yellow Wall’, 25,000 capacity south stand was closed due to crowd trouble a few weeks. Nevertheless, there was a wonderful atmosphere where we were standing with non-stop singing led by two guys at the front of our stand on gramophones.
The game itself was decent with Dortmund, some 10 places higher in the league, always well on top. A lucky first goal, a deflection off Wolfsburg’s central defense, was nothing more than they deserved with the front four led by Ousmane Dembele looking really good. Dortmund would add another two to record a comfortable victory.
We enjoyed a few beers at the brilliant stadium bar, Strobels – they were playing cracking music and there was a super vibe with heaps of people around – before a fun night out in Dortmund. I was done by midnight and so excited to climb into bed!
Back in Cologne on Sunday, we visited the beautiful Cologne Cathedral – the city, and in fact Germany’s, most visited landmark. It’s a breath-taking piece of architecture and huge; in fact, at 157m high, it’s the he tallest twin-spired church in the world. It’s well worth climbing the 533 steps for a wonderful view from the top and it’s free to visit and EUR4 to head to the viewing platform.
It was well past lunch time by the time we finished wandering around the Cathedral and we settled in for a long lunch and a few more German beers. We wandered along the Rhine for a short while but it was cold and wet so we very quickly abandoned that idea and headed inside for a few final beers at some of the many pubs in the area. Pretty much ending the weekend the same way as we started it!
Tickets can be purchased online at Dortmund’s official site – http://www.bvb.de/eng/Tickets/Information-GTC/Information. They are released one month in advance of match day at 8.30am German time and you need to be online a few minutes before they are released – I would suggest refreshing from 8.15 German time.
Tickets were under EUR20, what football should cost really, and include transport round the city on match da (including from Bochum).
We stayed at the downtown hostel in Cologne and an Air BnB in Bochum – Dortmund accommodation was incredibly expensive.
We flew into Cologne, which was just over an hour from London. Flights were significantly cheaper – it was over £200 to fly to Dortmund and less than £100 to Cologne (they can be as cheap as £50-60). I always check Momondo and Sky Scanner.
Tickets can be bought on the official Deutsche Bahn (DB) site and there’s a group discount if travelling in a group of more than 4 – we paid EUR19 return.