Archive for Germany

Memories of Italia 90

Posted in Biographical with tags , , , , , , , on July 5, 2020 by telescoper

Twitter reminded me that 30 years ago yesterday (4th July 1990) was the date of the semi final between England and Germany in the 1990 World Cup, an event remembered by most people for Gazza’s tears. Paul Gascoigne cried before England lost (on penalties) because he picked up a yellow card which meant he wouldn’t play in the final even if England got through. As it happened, England lost so none of the England players played in the World Cup Final.

My memories of Italia 90 have somewhat different focus. I travelled to Italy on 1st July 1990 to attend a cosmology conference/workshop in a place called Sesto Pusteria in the region known as Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol (South Tyrol). Sesto is a village, set in the Italian Dolomites, primarily a ski resort in the winter but used for conferences in the summer when there is no snow.

I think it was only my second trip to Italy and I had been learning some Italian on the flight. My plane was supposed to land in Venice whence a bus would take conference guests up to Sesto. Unfortunately my flight was diverted to land at Treviso. I missed the bus and decided to stay overnight in a hotel and travel under my own steam the next day.

I found a hotel in Treviso and that night I watched the quarter final between Cameroon and England on my own on the television in my room.

I got up early the next morning and with the aid of the railway timetable supplied by the hotel reception, I set out on a long journey by train. There might have been a quicker way by bus but I was more comfortable doing it by train and was actually looking forward to a bit of exploration.

The route involved four different trains: Treviso to Mestre, then Mestre to Verona, then Verona to Bolzano, then a local (very slow) train from Bolzano up into the mountains to San Candido. The last leg was a little bus from San Candido to Sesto Pusteria. It took me most of the day to get there but I made it without any real difficulty.

I did notice however that on the way there the style of buildings I could see changed from very Italian to very Austrian.

Anyway I arrived in Sesto Pusteria (which is a small place) and found the name of the hotel I was booked in which was Bellavista. I wandered about looking for it – there was no Google Maps in those days – but failed. I did however find the conference centre where the meeting was located. I went in and asked in broken Italian Prego, Dov’è l’hotel Bellavista?

The answer came back in perfect English with a hint of a German accent. It’s down the road on the right, about 50 metres. It’s easy to find because the outside is all white. I was puzzled because I must have walked right past it. Anyway I walked back to down the road and found a hotel with a white exterior. The sign said Hotel Schönblick…

It turned out that my meagre Italian was of no use at all because the locals all spoke German. The South Tyrol has historically been part of Austria. It was annexed by Italy at the end of the First World War and the present border is just a few km from Sesto Pusteria. Attempts to assign Italian names to things however have been only partly successful.

So I made it to the conference, a day late. There weren’t any mobile phones in those days so I’d been unable to contact the organisers so they were quite relieved when I eventually showed up.

And so I saw both semi finals of Italia 90 at the conference: Italy lost theirs against Argentina and England lost on penalties.

After the workshop I travelled with a colleague by car to Trieste to work on a collaboration. During that I remember watching the 3rd/4th playoff (‘Piccolo Finale’) on a big screen from a bar in a public square in Trieste. Italy won that (deservedly). I think I watched the final too, but can remember little about it.

Not Bad Godesberg

Posted in Biographical, Cricket with tags , , , , , , on June 10, 2018 by telescoper

Well, dear Readers, at this time I was supposed to be in Bad Godesberg, a municipal district of Bonn, in southern North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany for the 2018 Euclid Consortium Meeting which starts there tomorrow morning. To make sure I didn’t miss the opening sessions I booked a flight to Bonn/Cologne Airport from Heathrow at 8.50am today, and took the National Express Coach from Cardiff at 3.15am in order to make sure I arrived in good time for the flight.

Unfortunately, only 15 minutes after the Coach started on its way I got a text from the airline (a budget subsidiary of Lufthansa called `Eurowings’) had been cancelled. This was either to do with a strike of French Air Traffic Controllers or Thunderstorms; they never really got their story right. After a number of abortive attempts to rebook my flight using the coach’s wifi (e.g. to Frankfurt, whence by train to Bonn). I was advised that the system was overloaded and I should rebook at the airport.

Arriving at Heathrow Terminal 2 at 6.30, there was already a long line at the ticketing desk for Lufthansa/Eurowings. It got longer and longer as people arrived to find other flights had been cancelled too. When, after about 90 minutes in a queue, I finally got to a desk very few rebooking opportuninities were available, all of them involving silly routes (e.g. flying to Berlin, followed by a four and a half hour train trip to Bonn).

Exasperated, I suggested I could fly tomorrow instead if they offered to put me up in a hotel overnight. I didn’t fancy going back to Cardiff just so I could get up at stupid o’clock tomorrow to repeat the exercise. I’ll miss the first session of the meeting, but that’s not the end of the world.

So here I am, not in Bad Godesberg, but in the Holiday Inn at Heathrow Airport. I was booked in, given vouchers for lunch, dinner and breakfast tomorrow morning, and given two vouchers for the shuttle bus to and from Terminal 2. The hotel is characterless, but clean and the food is OK. I arrived about 10am and the room was available for me straight away, so I was able to catch up on a bit of sleep before watching most of Scotland’s memorable victory over England in today’s One Day International.

Now that I’ve had my free dinner (grilled Sea Bass) I am going to get some kip before getting up for my free breakfast and free trip back to the airport. The only question remains: will tomorrow’s flight be cancelled too?