Wednesday, June 07, 2006

“A time to make friends”...

The Local Organizing Committee in Germany came up with the slogan, "A time to make friends..." to demonstrate that Germany is a warm and friendly place where people indeed can and will make friends. I want to bring your attention to a man who actually personifies this concept.

Norbert Wolf is Senior Vice President of Siemens AG. They are headquartered here in Munich. Norbert's responsibility is for the corporate security of the giant multinational corporation. You might think that Norbert, sporting a pretty impressive title like that, might be a stick in the mud or someone without a sense of humor. Well, a quick look a the sequence of pictures to the left will tell you something about his personality.

While he is a serious businessman, he is charming, he is funny, he is entertaining, he enjoys his life and relates to his friends. He is the type of person I hope each you get to meet if you are going to visit Germany during this World Cup... and if you don't, then just take it from me that there really are the kind of people here in Germany that Franz Beckenbauer has been talking about in their promotions of this World Cup.

Norbert made us play hooky tonight. We had been invited by the Organizing Committee to a wonderful concert a the Munich Olymiastadium. However, it was going to be the only night we would be able to see Norbert before taking up my role as Head of FIFA Delegation in Cologne. While we are hoping to see him again when we come back for the semi-final, we really wanted to make sure it would happen before our departure.

He wanted Mary Lynn and me to get a look at the mountains; or at least a village south of the city. Munich is a great place, and Norbert hit the right chord by finding a lovely country inn overlooking the village Starnberg located at the side of a lake of the same name. The food was great. Bavarian, full of taste and calories. Really delicious. It should tell you something when appetizers we ordered are called "forespeis", which literally translates as foreplay.

Even the groans of satisfaction following the four dishes including Nürnberger Sausages and sauerkraut; a noodle dish I can describe as a cross between Fettucine Alfredo and Kraft macaroni & cheese; also a regional dish of the most delicious and enormous "ravioli" type pocket pasta; and finally some local fish served with potatoe pancakes (not that I wasn't paying attention), didn't stop Norbert from returning to the menu to order main courses. I wasn't sure where it would fit... but as you can see, with the consultation of our waitress Norbert found a few more dishes to let us know that you can't eat Bavarian food every day.... well, at least I can't. But, it was great.

Mary Lynn was too polite to refuse, so Norbert ordered her a delicious freshly cooked fish with almonds liberally sprinkled on top which came served with 3 large boiled potatoes garnished with cut chives and a side of steamed vegetables. Naturally, Mary Lynn who can still wear dresses that would fit a teenager, eats healthy food. Norbert following my protests said he would only order some little "sides", Brotzeit. I should have been suspicious of the sparkle of glee in Norbert's eyes as a platter of cold cuts, cheeses and spreads landed on the table accompanied by slices dark german bread.

Finally, Norbert announces, "No German meal is complete without the desserts!!!" Mary Lynn raises her arm in protest, but to no avail as Norbert orders her a Bavarian Cream. Blazer knows that Norbert is right, so quickly says, "I will have the plum strudle with vanilla sauce." I know Norbert ordered something for himself, but once my dessert came I was into some state of sugar shock and have no memory of what he ordered. The coffee, I thought would keep me awake on the way back to Munich, but alas, gluttony and satisfaction overtook my body as I slipped into a blissful rest until we pulled up at the Bayerischer Hof.
Thanks Norbert. It was a great night and the LOC now knows from this Blog that they have the perfect ambassador in you. Thanks for a great night.

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