If you are into football (even if I am at risk to repeat myself: the real football, not the game that has been designed to bridge the gaps between ads on television) you will understand that the day your team is playing in your country’s cup final is not the day you want to be away 6000 km. Alas, here I am in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and my home team, Bayern Munich, is playing our arch rival, Borussia Dortmund. As it turns out, a lot of locals are into football and support clubs like Barcelona, Arsenal and … Bayern! So, there I was, in the Assorti Arena Bar in Almaty, watching the German club final with a whole crowd dressed in Bayern kit!
The game ended 2:0 for Bayern in extra time – I have seen better football games, but none with more enthusiastic supporters in front of the TV. Almaty, keep supporting Bayern!
It hurts a little bit. There we are in a place 5000 km (3100 miles) from home (home is the City of Munich, Germany, by the way), in the middle of the unknown, and so far we have seen our hotel, the office and a couple of restaurants. If you think that this is the introduction to “but today – today we went to see an old Berkutchy (dude that hunts with a golden eagle with whom he has an intense and life long relationship)” – well, you are wrong. What we did today was: we went to the office, went for lunch, got back to the office, had dinner, went to the hotel and then I got out again to an English Pub: befittingly called the Shakespeare Pub (at 40 Dostyk near intersection of Dostyk) to watch tonight European Champions League games (in football, the real football, 2 x 45 min without advertising breaks after every pass). Tough night: my host, an avid Barca supporter (he turned up with a Barca tie today at the office), had a particular bad evening: not only was the game not shown, but FC Barcelona also lost versus Atletico Madrid. What a bummer. I on the other hand faced quite a few locals in Manchester United colours (how could they), who saw their team going down against a strong FC Bayern team – 3-1 was the result. That said, the local supporters of the English club were good natured users and shook hands with the only two Bayern supporters in the Pub. That didn’t count the distinct non-Manchester supporters from the non-english part of the British Isles, who didn’t really cheer for Bayern but agains Manchester United. Cannot say that this experience gave me a deep insight into the life of the locals. But it confirmed that the Scots cannot stand the English.
Lunch we had at a remarkable little basement restaurant called the “Hemingway Restaurant”. Address is Nauryzbai Batyr Street above str. Satpaeva. We had the business lunch, yet another tasty meal with fried fish, vegetables with chicken pieces, various salads and the ubiquitous coloured lemonades that seem to get served everywhere.
I am now looking forward to the weekend, where I hope to be able to see a bit more. Or ski.