This latest visit to the VELTINS-Arena was for the big derby between Schalke 04 and arch rivals Borussia Dortmund.
The football ticket was valid for the train journey to Gelsenkirchen, and for the Straßenbahn to the stadium as well as the return journey after the game to Dusseldorf.
On the tram out to the VELTINS-Arena you pass the old stadium Glückauf-Kampfbahn which was the original one used by Schalke 04 until 1973. Beside the current arena is the Parkstadion which in turn was replaced in 2001.
The current stadium, rebuilt for the 2006 World Cup, has a retractable roof and pitch and is simply one of the most impressive in Germany. Hopping off the Straßenbahn next to the stadium at around 2pm gives plenty of time to take a few photographs before taking your place in the stadium, in this case the Schalke 04 Nordkurve.
Pick up the Schalker Kreisel magazine, it is free and now runs to over 160 A4. This means not only is it a good read but is thick enough to sit on – but you need to get one early as they run out!
This latest derby was one of the most unusual in that Borussia Dortmund picked a line up that was based on the thinking they had a crucial second leg game on the following Thursday against Liverpool in the Europa League. Regular starters Reus, Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan were all left on the bench as Borussia Dortmund set out more or less in a 5-3-1-1 formation.
The home team lined up 3-4-3. There was lots of effort and commitment as expected in the first half but no goals were forthcoming. Borussia Dortmund brought on Mkhitaryan at the start of the second half and this meant that the away team now had more offensive options.
The scoreline changed regularly in the first 20 minutes. Kagawa scored the first goal for the visitors, two minutes later young Sané replied for the home team but a header within five minutes from Ginter put Borussia Dortmund in the lead for the second time.
Ten minutes on, Huntelaar equalised from the penalty spot after he had been fouled by Sokratis and the game petered out at 2-2. The home side were the clear winners with five bookings to three for Borussia Dortmund but it was the away side that had the most corners and chances.
As most of both sets of fans stay behind to salute their heroes you can usually get on one of the earliest Straßenbahn back to the main train station and that is what happened this time. After a delayed departure from Gelsenkirchen there were no more problems on the way to Düsseldorf.
In Gelsenkirchen the main shopping street is Bahnhofstraße. The city was the centre of coal and coke industries, as these disappeared the population has declined and is now around a quarter of a million. It is certainly the place to visit if you want to see a top class stadium and a team that usually qualifies for one of the European competitions.
Download a free EventGuide to Schalke 04 at EventGuides.Com!
For a 3-star hotel in Gelsenkirchen with double room (including breakfast) and your match ticket, the price per person (excluding flight) is from 2395 SEK / 215 GBP.
Book your trip to see Schalke 04 at Nickes.Com!
This is an edited version of an article by John Hogg in Football Weekends magazine, a fan’s guide to watching football around Europe. To order a copy visit www.footballweekends.co.uk