- 7 Jun 08, 06:10 PM
Vienna is starting to warm up in more ways than one. After three days of drizzle and grey clouds, the blue sky is beginning to break through over the Austrian capital.
And that welcome change in the weather has coincided with a sudden change in atmosphere on the city's streets.
Walking through Vienna on Friday night, it was hard to believe that in less than 36 hours that this place would host Austria's first game of Euro 2008. Yet on Saturday morning the transformation had begun.
Even then there was a surprise. It was the famous red-and-white checked shirts of the Croats that dominated, not the all red ones of the Austrians.
Perhaps the co-hosts are just keeping their powder dry, afraid of peaking too early. Still, there were clear signs that the Viennese are getting in the spirit, ready to waltz or perhaps whirl each and every visitor off his or her feet.
Giant football boots and even bigger footballs could be found in the museum quarter while several of the city's wonderful buildings have been temporarily obscured by huge advertising hoardings.
One of them, the 200ft-high ferris wheel made famous by the 1949 film 'The Third Man', is holding up an enormous image of Peter Cech, while a 40ft statue of Anubis plugging a Tutankhamun exhibition is now sporting an Austrian football shirt.
But there are some parts of Vienna that remain unaffected and untouched by football. Karntner Strasse, for example.
Described by some guidebooks as the city's most famous shopping street, it has more than its fair share of living statues - you know, those people who dress up in all sorts of costumes and stand still four hours on end - but I did not spot one that had sought to cash in by adopting a footballing theme.
Darth Vader, sure, but not footy.
The one entertainer I did encounter who thought that sport might be a way to persuade tourists to part with their money had plumped for tennis not the beautiful game, though quite how whacking a tennis ball attached to a piece of elastic over and over again would do that is beyond me.
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