By Jorge E. Pradilla

Our First Taste of Backpacking Football: The 2006 Germany World Cup

I was 18 years old and about to graduate High School when my brothers told me my graduation present would be to travel to Germany for the 2006 World Cup. We had some friends willing to host us there, and though it had proven impossible to find tickets, we decided to head to Germany and see what it was to experience a World Cup at first hand.

We were there for the last week of the World Cup, so we were able to travel to the cities where the games were happening and enjoy the atmosphere with the local and traveling fans.

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FRANKFURT - MAINZ

Touring the cities of Frankfurt and Mainz.

Touring the cities of Frankfurt and Mainz.

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MUNICH   |   SEMI-FINALS GERMANY VS ITALY

Walking around the city center before the match.

Walking around the city center before the match.

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Jorge's new haircut debut, something that would become a tradition every 4 years.  See more

Jorge's new haircut debut, something that would become a tradition every 4 years. See more

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End of the match. Italy advanced to the final after defeating Germany 2-0. 

End of the match. Italy advanced to the final after defeating Germany 2-0. 

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QUICK STOP AT THE COLOGNE TRAIN STATION

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BERLIN - 3rd Place Match

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As everyone else will tell you, the atmosphere in Germany was great. The Germans were perhaps the best hosts I can remember. The people on the streets were very helpful and polite, and even if you didn't ask for help, they would come to you and ask if they could be of any help. Out of all the World Cups I have been too, Germany was where I felt the most comfortable and welcome. In terms of organization, that World Cup was far ahead of the others. The transportation, hospitality, and events always ran smoothly. That allowed you to take your mind off the constant chaos and really get enjoy the atmosphere around you.

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THE FINAL  |  ITALY VS FRANCE

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Great athmosphere at the Brandesburg Gate Fan Fest

Great athmosphere at the Brandesburg Gate Fan Fest

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Key moment of the match, as Zidane headbutts Materazzi and is shown a red card.

Key moment of the match, as Zidane headbutts Materazzi and is shown a red card.

Fabio Grosso scores the last penalty for Italy, giving them their 4th championship.

Fabio Grosso scores the last penalty for Italy, giving them their 4th championship.

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Looking back, it was a shame that we couldn't attend any games. We tried, but we were not willing to pay the high prices scalpers were demanding for the tickets. However, to be fair, that was only our first taste of a big football tournament; It was because of that World Cup experience that we became obsessed with Football Traveling. Furthermore, we learned many valuable lessons in that World Cup that allowed us to better plan for the following trips. Lessons that we have carried as we continue to take on the world following the best football in the planet.