The history of Dortmund extends back to prehistoric times. Archaeological finds in the city indicate that the area was already heavily settled around 1000 BC. Dortmund is located in the heart of the Ruhr region. Coal and steel production were once key factors in the local economy. Over the past few decades this former coal-mining region has developed into an attractive location for high-tech industries. Only one thing has remained the same. Football continues to be a top priority. Every year a million fans stream into Westphalia Stadium to support their club, Borussia Dortmund.
Built in 1974 for the World Cup, the Westfalenstadion is one of Europe's most beautiful football arenas. The stadium was the German Football Association's (DFB) "trump card" in its application to host the final rounds of the 2006 World Cup. The Westfalenstadion is indeed a magnificent venue and recently hosted the World Cup semi-final between Germany and eventual winners Italy. The capacity is 83,000 and Dortmund boasts the largest average league attendance anywhere in Europe. The home terrace even for this friendly was vibrant and it is easy to imagine what it would be like if the stadium was full. Tottenham Hotspur more than held their own, claiming a 1-1 draw in a progressively tame friendly (Chef from Woolworths look-alike Berbatov grabbing the goal).
I travelled to Dortmund via Stansted and Dusseldorf using the excellent German Railways. From Dusseldorf airport you can reach Dortmund by train in 45 minutes. For research purposes, anticipating the need for refreshment, I was able to access The Dortmund Pub Guide which certainly provides suggestions and a bit of history on the breweries of Dortmund. I am unable to provide a comprehensive report of the bars for technical reasons but the following summary may assist. Our visit coincided with Dortmund's 'Dortmund a la carte' festival held in the main square, Hansaplatz. It is fare to say that there was something for everyone at reasonable prices. The guy that did his National Service in Northampton was particularly keen on the sliced potatoes cooked in a creamy cheese sauce and returned the following evening for an additional portion. His son enthused over his portion of snails among other selected dishes. Trade in the square was brisk. Ciderman joined us on the Saturday evening and would have consumed something from every stall if time had allowed.
Of particular note is Hovells Haus Brauerie - a pub restaurant with an on site brewery. The house beer is dark with a bitter taste and is hereby endorsed by the Pieman. I did ask the senior barman/waiter as to why Hovells is spelt Hoevels when accessing their website. He answered that he did not know and did not appear to care, at which point I returned to the wonderful beer. Another interesting venue explored was Pferfferkorn, an old bar/restaurant with a superb wooden interior. Whilst seated outside Ganse Markt on the Saturday evening we were treated to a concert by a duet, one of whom was playing a saw. The performance was actually quite good and was only spoilt by Ciderman claiming that he had seen this before. (I have just checked the listings for Wimbledon/Merton and can confirm that saw renditions regularly take place in that part of South London and that Ciderman is lucky indeed - how the other half live ! - Ed)
Attendance: 38,500 (Capacity 83,000)
Admission: 28€ (it was also possible to get terrace tickets for as little as 10€)
Programme: Not issued
Fare: 8,70€ (Dusseldorf Airport to Dortmund)
Photographic Services: Peter Lee
Subsequent visit to the Westfalenstadion
10 March 2016 - Borussia Dortmund 3 Tottenham Hotspur 0 - UEFA Europa League, Round of 16 1st Leg - Attendance: 65848