Well, it’s another night of World Cup madness in Berlin:  Germany vs. Spain. Germany is the slight favorite to go all the way. Should they beat Spain, they will face the Netherlands this Sunday for the championship.  The Netherlands will be a formidable opponent.  They haven’t lost a game the entire tournament.  Every bar and restaurant will be full as crowds view the game on big screen TVs.  I don’t expect the noise and activity to stop until well past midnight, including the noise from those annoying vuvuzeIas.  It seems that the Friedrichshain neighborhood is ground zero for football fans, my street in particular.

A side note:  Last night, I was on the subway (my bicycle was in the repair shop), and there were a group of young people engaged in a lively conversation.  I usually don’t eavesdrop, but I had forgot my reading material and had nothing better to do.

Now, I wouldn’t call myself fluent, but I can understand a normal German conversation.  In the case of these young people, I couldn’t understand one word they were using.  I began to think:  Did I need to take another German language course or was it worse?  Was this the beginning of Alzheimer’s?  It was only after a great deal of effort and concentration that I determined the topic of the conversation:  the World Cup.  What else!

I discussed this event with a German friend, and she assured me that I wasn’t suffering from a loss of mental capacity.  She said that even she had trouble understanding certain German accents. For foreigners, like myself, the thick Berlin accent, rapid speaking, and use of slang, all contributed to my incomprehension. What a relief!