It was only a short break and when it was time to go I really regretted it. I wish I'd had the opportunity to stay longer and maybe move around a bit. But it was off to the airport for me, getting back to boring Staines and the UK. There were a few fans with football colours on my flight, just like flying out actually. Overhearing their conversations, I was happy that they seemed to have enjoyed their stay and were apparently pleasantly surprised. That was even nicer to hear because it was two people with England shirts talking, and I had feared they'd say different things, but the old rivalry wasn't an issue for them. Maybe this actually helped anglo-german relations at a very basic foundations level. That'd be great, because I love Britain and nothing would make me happier than to know that Germany is losing its negative image there.
Waiting at the gate
When I arrived back I expected to settle back into routine, see patients, recover from my dissertation work... but the best - at least from the German prespective - was yet to come. And I don't mean that the team played well and got to 3rd place in the end. I mean the unbelievable atmosphere that developed in Germany, the fact that (finally) it was actually ok to buy a flag, to cheer the team on or to paint your face black, red and gold. And people started learning the words to the anthem. Finally it seemed ok to be patriotic, something that is natural to most other countries. There was even a shortage of flags because this enthusiasm had not been anticipated at all. To feel proud about being German was unthinkable to so many before, it was great to see this liberation - "party patriotism" was suddenly acceptable (although politicians still had a debate about it).
Busy food court in terminal 2
An entire nation woke up, and feeling that kind of enthusiasm being back in Britain, only via TV, I wonder what it was like for everyone back in Germany. So I have really mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, not being there when it all really started is possibly one of the greatest regrets that I have. It really was a once in a lifetime event and I missed it. On the other hand, we all seem to have a much better relationship with ourselves now, without forgetting the lessons of the past. And maybe we even managed to improve the image of Germany and the stereotypical German a little. And that can't be a bad thing.