The trip started off with a an unusually, uncomplicated direct flight on the Wednesday afternoon to Berlin from Glasgow. Making a change from the usual planes, trains, automobiles and everything in between that has become a stable part of every euro away.
Arriving in Berlin, in late afternoon/early evening the first inclination was, after ditching bags and checking into respective hotels, was to head out to the pubs in the nearby Kreuzberg district. An area characterised for it's left wing influence, it's squatting movement and significant immigrant population.
After a few beers in several pubs, we headed to Kilkenny's Irish bar in another part of the city. Where more had begun to gather after the concert in Kruzeberg had finished. From there until the early hours the night began to wind down and several began going back to their hotels.
Thursday began with an early start, with the bus scheduled to leave for Leipzig at 10am.( Safe to say, there was a more than a few sore heads and a few casualties who missed it.)
The bus on route was bouncing. Ironically being probably one of the beat parts of the trips. After the two hour journey we arrived outside the Zentralstadion, or 'RB arena'. A stadium originally built in 1954 but redeveloped in 2004 for the 2006 world cup.
From there, we got a short tram ride to the central square...and had a hour or so to kill before setting off on the corteo back to the stadium. Naturally, most raided the local shops in search of carry outs. In preparation for the 'in theory' 40 minute walk back to the stadium.
The corteo itself was incredibly impressive and was marked with consistent pyrotechnics and noise. In hindsight it was one of these iconic moments. That had several fan scenes in Europe again take notice at what our support can do.
Inside the stadium, a well organised sea of flags spread out across the lower tier accompanied with an bold 'ULTRAS CELTIC' banner greeted the teams as they came. Then came the customary pyro.
The tifo and brief moment of excitement that followed, was all to often short lived. As normal, things seem to go to shit on the pitch and we found ourselves 2-0 in a short period of time. The only high point from that was the brief 'Fuck Red Bull' banner.
A banner that will came off no surprise to anyone with a resentment off the corporate entity or a passing knowledge in German football. A club founded in 2009, solely as marketing agent for Red Bull.
The game finished 2-0 and we made our way back to the bus. The bus back was eventful and following an unscheduled stop we didn't arrive back in Berlin till 1 or 2am in Berlin.
The morning after the night before and with many having left very early doors,there was a small band of maybe 30 or so where left.
The morning began however with a slight break from the norm, and more touristy than the last two days. Four others and myself went on a tour centred on history of soviet East Berlin. Covering briefly the final days of WW2 and the substantially growth of the city following the collapse of the third Reich. A incredibly enjoyable tour which is well worth it (https://berlinstaiga.com)
The tour lasted a good bit of the day and from then, we met up with the other 30 and headed to the nearby town of Potsdam. Which is mostly known for the conference that followed the end of WW2 and decided the administration of Germany.
Potsdam is also home to SV Babelsberg. A club known for it's left wing support and having a personal contacts with some of the Celtic support.
The game itself was a scrappy affair, lightened up at times with 30 drunk Celtic fans... trying to create something akin to the night before. The vibe in the stadium was definitely a more old school vibe and seemed slightly distinctly different from the usually regimented German fan scene. A strange night helped with a plentiful supply of cheap alcohol in the stadium.
After the game, we staggered back to the train station and then back to Berlin.