The waiting is over for The Chronicle's man at the World Cup Ben Coulbeck as he experiences first-hand the fun in Frankfurt
AFTER his third attempt at landing, our EasyJet pilot finally managed to put us down on German soil.
'I was just playing with you English fans,' he quipped over the tannoy. 'Next time, mate, just tell us the one about Oliver Khan at Munich five years ago, yeah?'
Cologne Airport is typically German - clean, regimented and able to give you a shock or two. All the terminals appear to be made of steel and rubber so that everywhere is charged with static electricity! Pressing the button to call a lift has never been so intimidating - and the shocks didn't end there.
Having booked a decent Ford Fiesta to transport our four-strong party across the length and breadth of Germany, the extremely serious blonde at the Euro Car desk told us in no uncertain terms that our method of transport would have to be a Nissan Micra. Gutted doesn't come close...
But the sight of more than 1,000 England fans mixed with pockets of Brazilians, Mexicans and Iranians puts everything back into perspective. This is the World Cup in Germany. It doesn't get much better.
Having negotiated the confusion of the auto-bahns, we arrived in Frankfurt - England's first host city. The atmosphere was electric there as it was in Mainz, where we stayed. From decorations to samba and giant TV screens, it is a real carnival - with England fans centre stage.
It never fails to amaze me how many supporters travel to all corners of the globe, and in this case to Germany, for just a small bite of the World Cup sausage.
Ticket-less, we all headed down to the fans' fest on the banks on the River Rhine. No doubt you will have seen the pictures back home, but watching Sven's men play Paraguay with around 10,000 fellow Englishmen on an enormous flat-screen television floating on the river was truly amazing.
Needless to say, when David Beckham's perfectly curled free-kick was headed in by Paraguay's captain Carlos Gamarra, a few sun-burnt, alcohol-fuelled Englishmen ended up in the river itself.
Although the match didn't live up to the usual high expectations, a win is a win and the red and white party could continue well into the small hours.
Reports back home suggest there is more hooliganism in England than out here in Germany where, according to Fifa and the local police, we posed the biggest threat to safety.
But, apart from being stopped by Nuremburg's finest this week for driving down a one-way street the wrong way, we haven't seen anything other than good-humoured banter between rival supporters.
So far, so good for England - on and off the pitch. nNext week: Ben reports on his experiences inside the Franken-Stadion, Nuremberg, for England's big clash with Trinidad & Tobago. But will he get a ticket for the Sweden game?