A last-minute Christmas gift idea

If you're calling Germany home these days and stuck for a last-minute gift idea, here's a thought. Those of you who were in the country back in the summer of 2006 no doubt remember the heady atmosphere brought on when the nation hosted the FIFA World Cup soccer matches. Soccer's coming back to Germany in 2011, and this time it's the ladies taking to the field.

The FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011 (http://www.fifa.com/womensworldcup/news/index.html) will play out between June 26 and July 17 of the upcoming year. The U.S. team is in fine form and currently ranked number one. Why not turn out to a match or two and lend them your support? They certainly deserve our admiration, having won the last two Olympic Gold Medals and finishing third in the last two FIFA Women's World Cups. Could 2011 be the year they go all the way? 

Playing in Group C, their matches (http://www.fifa.com/womensworldcup/matches/index.html) will be played in Dresden on June 28 (facing Korea DPR), in Sinsheim on July 2 (against Colombia) and in Wolfsburg on July 6 (taking on Sweden). If they're successful in their division, they'll move on to the quarter-finals in either Augsburg or Dresden. Should they reach the semi-finals, that match will play out in either Frankfurt am Main or Moenchengladbach. The final takes place on July 17 in Frankfurt. 

Tickets for most matches remain available, and they may be purchased online through Dec. 31. Prices start at 30 euros for an adult ticket and cost 15 euros for those under the age of 17. For details, visit the ticket shop (http://tinyurl.com/2uykkxe).

Tickets to the first match and a trip to Dresden to go along with it --  now wouldn't that be a nice thing to find in your stocking?

At the airport, going nowhere fast

A Friday morning at the Frankfurt International airport, with just a week to go until Christmas.  The snow has been falling gently through the night, and although it’s of the light fluffy sort, it’s been enough to generate complete and utter chaos at the airport.
I arrive by train, and for once Deutsche Bahn has whisked me to my destination without a hitch. I’m flying to Copenhagen for the weekend to see one of my best girlfriends, but when’s my flight?  I searched my in-box in vain for a record of the booking I'd made some two months prior the night before, but my confirmation was not to be found,  so I’m left guessing. I checked Lufthansa’s departure schedule for Copenhagen, and decided the earliest flight I could possibly be on was the 9:40 a.m.  When I generate my e-ticket from the automated machine, I see I am in fact scheduled for a 12:45 p.m. departure, which means I’ve reached the airport earlier than I’ve ever been for a flight.  I’m only flying with a backpack, but since I’ve bought numerous liquid cosmetics at the drug store as stocking stuffers for my friend, and I’ve got time to kill, it seems prudent to use the baggage drop to ensure I don’t lose anything while negotiating the security drill.

I’m taken aback when I search for the line to drop off baggage.  Where’s the end? The queue snakes halfway through Terminal 1. But I have time, so I take my place in line. The businessman behind me is from Rhode Island and en route to New York’s JFK airport. Behind him, a mother and teenage son are on their way to Atlanta.  Our progress is measured out slowly, in two or three shuffling baby steps at a time.

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