The D&O Diary’s sojourn in Germany continued last week with travel to Nuremburg and Munich. The same wonderful late spring weather that we had enjoyed the week before in Frankfurt followed us as we continued our travels in Germany.
My primary purpose for traveling to Munich was to participate in a Munich Re Financial Lines Expert Group event held at the company’s beautiful headquarters building. It was a hybrid event, with some participants live in Munich and many others joining virtually from around the world. I made a presentation to the group on ESG and other topics; I presented a perspective on ESG that arguably qualifies as contrarian. It was a pleasure to meet with and to exchange ideas with such a distinguished group of international D&O professionals. I would like to thank Aisha Anwar for making it possible for me to participate ; Monica Milberg and Dr. Carola Barzen for inviting me to participate; and to all of the attendees for making the event so enjoyable and so informative. A special note of thanks to Sabrina Kirschner for coordinating my participation in the event (and also for her memorable introduction prior to my presentation).
Our time in Munich also afforded us some opportunities to see the city itself as well. I have been to Munich several times in the past, and so it is a familiar place. It is such a green, agreeable, comfortable place, with an excellent transportation system, and a host of pleasant sites. All of these features of the city were significantly enhanced by the beautiful weather that prevailed during our visit. Indeed, during an evening picnic in the Englisher Garten, my wife allowed that she wouldn’t mind living in Munich; while that is not likely to happen, it was certainly pleasant to contemplate.
Notwithstanding the beautiful weather, we did at least try to take advantage of Munich’s cultural offerings. We did take a morning to visit the Alte Pinakothek art gallery. The museum has a fine collection but I had one main objective during our visit.
We spent the weekend before traveling to Munich in Nuremberg. We enjoyed our visit to Nuremberg – the weather was great, and we appreciated the chance to explore its historic sites.
However, as much as we enjoyed our visit to Nuremberg, we really do want a do-over. As great as the weather conditions were, there was one huge problem. It turned out that on Sunday afternoon during the weekend of our visit, the local soccer team, 1. FC Nürnberg, was scheduled to play FC Schalke 04 in each team’s respective final match during the regular season of the 2. Bundesliga (the second level of professional football in Germany). The outcome of the game would determine whether or not Schalke would be the champions of second division, and also confirm whether Schalke would be promoted to the top division for next season. Owing to these high stakes, many Schalke fans travelled to Nuremberg from their home base in Gelsenkirchen. There were literally thousands of Schalke fans in Nuremberg for the weekend. (Maybe tens of thousands.) They were everywhere. They were loud. And they were not sober. The streets literally rang with the sounds of their singing, as reflected in the video below, filmed outside an Irish pub on the street near our hotel. Their singing went late into the night on Saturday night and even well into the early hours of Sunday morning. (I heard them still singing near our hotel at 3:30 am). They were back at it again on Sunday. And even after the game was over and Schalke had won, 2-1, the Schalke fans were still flooding the streets and singing. And they were still not sober. It was amusing in a way, but it was also very hard not to think that the whole experience of being in Nuremberg would have been a lot more fun without the thousands of drunken, singing Schalke fans.
One particular reason I wanted to visit Nuremberg is that the city is Albrecht Dürer’s hometown. As you might have detected from the above comments about Durer’s self-portrait, I am a huge fan of Albrecht Dürer; I even devoted a recent installment in my Sunday Arts series on this site to Dürer. He is in many ways the city’s most famous son. There is a street in the Aldstadt named after him, and the airport is also named after him. (In addition, there are a number of beerhalls and cafes named after him as well).
I have to say that (even allowing for the drunken Schalke fans) we had a great trip to Germany. We were extremely fortunate with the weather and we enjoyed visiting some great places. The more times I visit, the more I appreciate traveling in Germany. There are certain features of life in Germany — the great public transportation, the bicycle-friendly cities, the prevalence of comfortable beer gardens — that make it such a great place to visit. Definitely some features that could improve life in the U.S. as well.