Once I’d arrived in Berlin, there were several logistical matters which had to be sorted – registering my address (Anmeldung), opening a German bank account, and finding somewhere to watch Manchester United.
This may sound a relatively easy task in a city as multiculturally diverse (teeming with Brits) as Berlin; however, there are certain things which must be considered, and these make it a significantly more difficult job than one might expect.
Some of these influencing factors include, but are not limited to, locality, television size, fellow viewers, and price of beer.
Looking up sports bars in Berlin, I found Caffe-Bistro-Italia-Sport, located a mere 10 minute cycle from me in Zoologischer Garten, and, as the name might suggest, an Italian bar.
I decided to give it a try and I was not disappointed. Well, I was initially, as when I arrived they said they weren’t able to show the game, however, fortunately, there were some other United fans, visiting from Stockholm, although originally Norwegian (big Ole Gunnar fans still despite his current form), who assisted my cause and eventually the owners agreed to put it on one of their six screens. The other screens were devoted to games from the Italian league, and it seemed this was the bar of choice for the local Italian community.
The atmosphere was immense, enhanced by the football memorabilia covering every inch of the walls. There was a fair number of United fans and we groaned in unison as we conceded. The sting of going down by one was diminished by the beer, which was cold and refreshing, and I got to know the family who own the bar/restaurant and are some of the most welcoming and friendly people I have ever met. Furthermore, they also offered traditional Italian pizzas – “the best pizzas in Berlin” is how they were sold by the waitress, who is married to the chef.
I have been back for every single game except one, where I ventured into an Irish pub recommended by a friend and immediately regretted my decision. In Caffe-Bistro-Italia-Sport, there is an unmatched warmth, and it wasn’t long before I started visiting even when Manchester United aren’t playing.