- 1 Jul 08, 11:22 AM
London - 3,174 miles travelled
Upon landing in London on Monday evening virtually the first thing I noticed was an advert featuring a huge quote by Samuel Johnson.
It said: "By seeing London, I have seen as much of life as the world can show."
But football did not feature in his dictionary and he definitely didn't reckon on Euro 2008.
I had a dream about the tournament last night, I was in the press box and Arsene Wenger was sat a couple of desks away commentating for French television.
But I awoke this morning not only to the reassuring presence of my wife next to me but to the reality that Euro 2008 is all over.
The finest football tournament in recent times has come to an end and all the drama, action and entertainment that it provided across 22 June days is now consigned to memory.
I don't know what you think but I thought that it delivered in a big way. I did not have particularly huge expectations in advance and I think in many ways that was part of the attraction of the tournament.
It was not besieged by hype before it had even begun (at least not in England) and was allowed to flourish on the merits of the football it produced. Dramatic finishes became an almost daily occurrence, negative teams got their comeuppance and Spain, the best team there, lifted off the trophy.
I've already spoken about the merits of Switzerland but Austria wasn't too shabby either.
Here are a few of my highlights from the land that produced Arnie:
Feeling the stand I was sat in at the Tivoli Neu stadium in Innsbruck wobbling in a very considerable way after Sweden equalised against Spain; earthquake simulation of distressingly realistic proportions.
The sheer size and prevalence of a supermarket chain that might be "so near" in England but that operates on a whole different level in Austria. Mini cities.
Trying to interview Spain's Sergio Garcia in Spanish. I didn't really have the language skills for the job and he had to finish each of my questions.
The smell of a train's burning brakes on a hot day heading to Feldkirk. I was slightly worried, all the locals on the train just laughed at my concern.
Croatia coach Slaven Bilic touching fists with Vedran Corluka after substituting him during the match against Poland in Klagenfurt. Bilic was too cool for school before he got carried away a few minutes too early against Turkey.
Watching young people stagger around Innsbruck late on a Saturday night, blind drunk and throwing up all over the place. I didn't see any of that from the Swiss and, after a couple of weeks away, it looked refreshingly familiar.
The feeling of sheer joy after collecting my clean laundry early one morning in Klagenfurt; I never realised a clean pair of socks could seem like such a luxury.
The relative affordability of just about everything after entering the country from Switzerland.
So there you are. I was away for 26 days, visited all the host cities except Zurich, caught countless buses, trams and trains, hitched the odd lift off other BBC people and travelled more than 3,000 miles.
At every turn the tournament was brought to life by the sheer number and good humour of travelling supporters. Top marks go to the Dutch but countless others played their part in creating such an atmosphere.
And despite all the concern before the tournament started that the antipathy of the host nations would cause the tournament to fall flat, I have to doff my cap to both the Swiss and the Austrians. Neither nation made it out of the group stage but, generally speaking, it did not stop the locals having a good time. Perhaps a lesson in the benefit of modest expectations. The Swiss edge it on efficiency and infrastructure but the Austrians have a touch more of the party vibe about them (though not in Klagenfurt).
It has been a privilege to be a small part of it all and a huge thanks to all of you who read the blog. Whether you loved it or loathed it, felt it brought the tournament to life or was just a complete waste of money, without your comments and opinions it just wouldn't have been the same.
I'm off to cut the grass at the allotment, crack on with some grouting and vacuum the front room.
Summer is here and normal life has resumed. But don't panic - the football season kicks off in 40 days.
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