Things I Could Have Blogged About, But Didn't
For the unitiated (99% of the population of the US, I am sure), this was (and is--still ongoing) the European "football" (soccer) championship. You might wonder why such a topic would appear on this blog, and so might I. It would be accurate to say that this athletic tournament, which I am quite capable of overlooking entirely until it is a distant memory even in the minds of ardent fans, was violently called to my attention in a manner impossible to overlook, similar to the way in which it would be difficult to overlook a sharp left to the chin.
It all started so innocently. We were celebrating our 20th anniversary this month, and I managed to convince my husband that it was an event noteworthy enough to warrant a wee bit more attention than our anniversary usually merits. I managed to convince him that we should actually go away by ourselves for a few days, and while my original destination of choice was London, the gasping-for-breath dollar dictated that we look for something closer to home. Okay, fine, we live in central Europe, and there are many worthy destinations within our reach--how many, I don't even want to think about now, but Prague, Budapest, and Salzbug merited at least a brief look. However, in the end, we chose Vienna. I've never been, and I've always wanted to go, and who needs a better reason than that? The dates of our trip were determined 20 years ago, since we got married June 11, 1988, and that's what we were celebrating.
We arranged for childcare, purchased train tickets, reserved a hotel, researched museums and points of interest on the internet, printed maps of the city and public transportion, packed our bags, and headed off to Vienna, blissfully unaware that Euro 2008 even existed, let alone that it was going to be the first thing to welcome us when we got there.
Really. As soon as we got off the train, helpful personnel thrust little booklets into our hands with "Euro 2008" written on the cover. Euro 2008? Soccer championships? Vienna is hosting the European soccer championships RIGHT NOW, and soccer fans (notorious for being loud, boisterous, and violent) are flocking to Vienna this minute? It really was a bit of a shock, although getting tickets for the city transportation, finding the right trams, and reaching our hotel were our immediate concerns.
Within a very short time we discovered the following:
1. Some streets were closed and some trams and buses rerouted, making following the transportation map we had tricky at best.
2. All the museums and buildings we planned to visit were precisely in the district marked "fan zone" in the helpful little booklet we received at the station.
3. The clincher--the last day of our visit coincided with the soccer match scheduled between Austria (home country, where we were) and POLAND (the country we left behind so we could visit Someplace Else).
For the most part, we did what we wanted to do and saw what we wanted to see. It was a little strange, that last day, to hear more people speaking Polish around us than we would have heard in Krakow, but one can over look these things. Our train home was delayed an hour and a half, as it was arriving full of soccer fans ready for the evening game, but we were fervently grateful that our plans took us home that day instead of the next, when said (by then disgruntled) fans would have been riding too.
Did you know (ha ha) that Poland is hosting this tournament in 2012? Can I come visit you?