Today marks the start of the biggest sporting event in Eastern Europe since the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Poland and Ukraine have built brand spanking new stadiums and invested in improvements to their infrastructure for the 2012 European Chmpionships; or Euro 2012, for short.
I was hoping to visit all the stadiums before the tournament but something else came up over Easter.
I’ve travelled in Poland and Ukraine a few times and brought back nothing but fond memories.
Here’s hoping the fans visiting the Euro 2012 host cities – from the Baltic coast to the Black Sea shore – return with the same good memories; even if their team doesn’t win the tournament.
Poland-Ukraine 2012 Host Cities
Poland’s host cities are Gdansk, Poznan, Warsaw and Wroclaw.
If you’re in Germany, Austria or Switzerland during the tournament you’ll be hearing about Danzig, Posen, Warschau (easy enough) and Breslau.
One of the two semi-finals will also be played in Poland’s capital.
Four cities in Ukraine will also host three group games each: Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kiev and Lviv.
Donetsk and Kiev will both stage quarter-final matches; Donetsk a semi-final; and the Euro 2012 final will be played in Kiev – on Sunday, 1st July.
England play their games in Ukraine – two games in Donetsk, with one in Kiev sandwiched between them – but for some strange reason the English national team have decided to base themselves in Krakow, Poland.
Playing in Group D, even if England qualify from the group stage (as winners or runners-up) their quarter-final match will also be played in Ukraine.
If England finish second, their semi-final would then be in Ukraine too.
Surely having a base somewhere between Donetsk and Kiev would have made more sense; even Yalta – twinned with Margate.
According to British tabloid, The Sun, the England players’ wives and girlfriends (WAGs) will be hiring a private jet to whisk them in and out of Ukraine for the games – from England.
The Teams – A Focus on The Countries
Over the course of the tournament I’ll focus on a different country playing in the tournament; not so much about the team but more about visiting the country.