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UEFA Euro 2012 in Poland & Ukraine

The Langohrs make for a round trip across Eastern Europe to watch the European Football Championship 2012 live and on location. Their journey takes them through Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and back to Germany again. Aside the song and dance around the popular ball sport, they enjoy the many sightseeing opportunities that a trip into these regions entails. Under the pseudonym 'die Weltreisenden' they keep track of all their travel impressions and their entertaining blogs can be followed here:
click here

A small selection thereof can be found below. Sit back and enjoy!


 
Germany

... In Bad Schandau, part of the nearby Saxon Switzerland, we move into a camp ground and adverse weather conditions finally catch up with us. At nighttime, rain sets in and we are delighted that our new roof tent seems to be impervious to wind and rain. Yet even the best tent doesn't help against temperatures below 10°C. The nougat spread is not really spreadable, which puts Birne's good mood severely to the test. ...

... The next day, we make our way into Poland via the famous Bastei. The motorway through Wroclaw and Katowice is a real gem. We reach Oswiecim, better known by its German name Auschwitz, where we tour the former concentration camp. It is a depressing visit which puts things into perspective; football doesn't seem all that important for a while. ...

 
Poland

... We find a camping ground and run into German and Dutch Euro 2012 tourists, who make their way to the Ukraine. Despite the fact that Krakow doesn't host any championship games, the football fever is clearly noticeable throughout the city. National teams from Italy, Holland and England stay in Krakow and we almost bump into the English team bus, which returns from the training pitch to the hotel. ...

... At the arts centre in the heart of the city, public viewing areas for more than 100 000 spectators have been erected. There is an intense atmosphere, which we enjoy for the next couple of hours just as much as the first couple of football matches and the occasional Polish beer. ...

... With its very attractive old town, pubs en masse and picture-perfect public spaces, Posen is the perfect host city for the fans from Croatia and Ireland. Even a day before the actual game, spirits are high. We follow the close success over Portugal with supporters from different camps in front of one of the many screens. The following day, the atmosphere reaches boiling point. Tens of thousands of fans are in the city centre and outrival each other in their displays. Despite hectolitres of beer consumption, proceedings are cheer- and peaceful. ...

Ukraine

... At the camp site I found encouraging words for the Dutch supporters ... later in the city centre, I took a quick snapshot of the Dutch team bus, having the premonition that this vehicle wouldn't be at the Euro 2012 for much longer. ...

... Until we hit the city centre of Lviv, it was smooth sailing, but then everything turns to chaos, with many areas being closed for traffic. Apparently I run a red light and it is only thanks to the Euro 2012 supporter bonus that I can avoid a fine. Shortly thereafter, I almost crash into an oncoming tram line and my patience is starting to wear thinner by the minute. At the next police control we adamantly refuse participation and to the surprise of all we reach our destination only five minutes later. ...

... We interpret it as a good sign that, right in front of our eyes, the German team bus with a waving Oliver Bierhoff is heading for the stadium, so we also depart for the 'ufo' which lies just south of the city. The out-of-town arena with its very modern appearance is firmly in the hands of German fans today. 15000 to 5000 is the fan ratio and not only the game, but also the who-sings-the-loudest contest, is clearly won. Quarter finals here we come! ...

... The weather is bad and nobody south of Lviv seems to understand any English at all. The gas station attendant near Ivanvo Frankivsk is as far from producing a smile as he is from the moon. He makes it very clear that he has never heard of the city Kolomyya, despite the fact that it is only 50km from here and has 70 000 inhabitants. He makes it even more clear that it would be a good idea for me to head for the exit now. ...

... Ellie was pretty excited about yesterday's camp site already, but today she is completely over the moon. Oksana has plenty of vivid huts, artistic sculptures in most of the gardens and pets on every corner. Ellie wants to pet each and every animal closeby. Relaxing has highest priority, so we only make a small trip into the picturesque mountains nearby. We want to conserve energy for the days ahead. ...

 
Moldova

... Our two weeks in the Ukraine went off without a hitch and we are surprised to find out what the smaller neighbour Moldova has in store for us. We cross the border on Sunday and there is very little traffic. We get processed quickly, only the last Moldovan official wants to earn a little extra weekend money in the form of $10. Sometimes it is an advantage if one doesn't speak the language of a country and we simply pretend that we have absolutely no idea what he is on about. ...

 
Romania

... We leave Moldova and enter Romania near Botoșani. We are back in the European Union, but here in the north of Romania nothing seems to indicate that. The infrastructure is very basic at best and horse-drawn carriages are a constant sight on the streets. ...

... While it was sometimes difficult to find campsites in Moldova or the Ukraine, it isn't an issue in Romania at all. We spend the first night close to Moldovita abbey with less than basic facilities. The adjacent pub attracts all kinds of dubious clients and in the front lawn lies a young man whose stomach seems to disagree with him for hours on end. He presumably lost a drinking game. When I raise my concerns, I am reassured with a smile that he is simply ill. ...

... Arriving from Bukovina, we make our way over the Prislop pass into Maramureș and finally camp in beautiful surroundings near Breb. The place is supposedly an official camp ground, but it consists only of a remote piece of grassland with a river; still, it is like a dream come true. ...

 
Slovakia

... For the time being we visit the spectacular castle, which together with the nearby cathedral, forms part of the world heritage listed site. Just as monumental as the buildings, are the emerging thundery clouds. After days of heat is was simply inevitable that the weather would change. And indeed, a short while later, lightning strikes set in with a ferocity that takes my breath away. For days the storms will be our constant travel partners and only recede once the hot and humid air has cooled down. To make matters worse, the heavy winds have dislodged a tree which has fallen onto the road and is blocking our way back. Luckily for us, we find our way out in the opposite direction. ...

... Yet again rain sets in heavily as nighttime falls and we're stoked with our super-sturdy roof top tent. Eventually the weather calms down and we take the opportunity to pay visits to the Dobšinská Ice Caves (UNESCO world heritage listed) and the Slovak Paradise mountain ranges. ...

 
Czech Republic

... To our surprise, all the elderly participants would camp in their little tents in rain, hail or shine without so much as a murmur and even in these adverse conditions, they hike all the way to the top of the Sněžka, after all the highest mountain in the Czech Republic. We decide to stick with the grey nomads for a day. ...

... The last morning in the Czech Republic makes our departure easy. Overnight rain has set in again and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. We're the only ones on a huge camp ground and after breakfast we prepare for our homeward journey. Via Harrachov and Frýdlant we make our way back onto German soil. ...


Artwork and/or text courtesy of Rolf Langohr.