- 21 Jun 08, 03:00 PM
Every day on our Euro 2008 road trip brings it's contrasts and none more than when we swapped the sedate pace of Somerset and a small café full of Portuguese for Friday night in one of London's biggest sports bars.
It was to be our first - and unfortunately last - encounter with the Croatians as we descended on the Famous 3 Kings pub, next to West Kensington tube station.
The lady at the Croatian Embassy told us this would be where a large number of the capital's 2,500 Croats watched the game. Sure enough, from 5pm they were taking up positions in front of a selection of TVs that would give Comet a run for its money.
I had no idea that the Croats were such party animals. With huge smiles and nationalistic pride born of their recent independence, they filled the pub's three rooms to bursting point.
Pinned into a tight corner by the bar, I briefly exchanged handshakes with their most public face in the UK - The One Show's Adrian Chiles, whose mother is Croatian, before he was carried off in a wave of adulation.
They hollered their way through 120 minutes of relentless pounding on Turkey's door and were still celebrating Ivan Klasnic's goal when the Turks grabbed their dramatic equaliser. Their good nature was then tested but never really threatened by the sort of penalty pain normally reserved for the English.
Our greatest challenge during our time with the Croatians was noise. The resident DJ's mishmash of Michael Jackson, rock classics and dodgy Adriatic punk made hearing the studio let along myself almost impossible.
Producer Garth and I have become used to such obstacles. The day before, we only got on air by jamming two cocktail sticks into the telephone socket of one piece of equipment after I managed to snap a crucial piece of lead.
Another challenge has been the grub. The hospitality we received from each of our hosts has been belly-bursting. From Portuguese chicken giblets to Dutch bitter balls, we scoffed the lot. The Greeks even insisted on force feeding us three main courses.
I'm not complaining, it's just that after two weeks on the road my jeans are not only in dire need of washing detergent, I can no longer do them up!
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