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Nuremberg, Germany

In a previous blog I may have given the impression that the national stereotype was a thing of the past. How wrong was I?

Only an hour into Belgium, on the last leg of our Radio 5 Live Euro 2008 road trip, we stopped at a motorway café that was genuinely playing Ca Plane Pour Moi by Plastic Bertrand. Nearly 12 hours later, our end-of-day beer in North Bavaria was accompanied by The Scorpions!

Continue reading "Vienna here we come"

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London, England

Back in the capital for Wednesday's Euro 2008 semi-final between Germany and Turkey, we decided to meet up with some members of the London branch of Fenerbahce FC.

There were plenty of fun and games before the match even began thanks to a late change of venue. We'd originally decided to pitch up at a snooker club in Harrow-on-the-Hill but switched at the last minute, heading for the Fat Controller pub instead.

Continue reading "Thanks for the memories, Turkey"

The last 48 hours has been weird, being back at home after 16 consecutive days on the road, broadcasting from a different location every time.

Along the way we covered 2,500 miles and met supporters from 14 of the 16 Euro 2008 countries. In fact, so quickly have I exchanged one routine for another that departing Jamie Carragher's bar and restaurant in the centre of Liverpool feels like a month ago rather than late Sunday evening.

Continue reading "Ready for the semis"

Warsash, England

Holland's exit from Euro 2008 at the feet of the mystical Russians brought on one of those "ashamed to be English" moments.

I had just suffered 120 minutes of unfathomably poor football - such a contrast from the slick destruction of Italy, France and Romania in the group stages - in the company of the Southampton Anglo-Dutch Association, an organisation formed in 1971 as a social outlet for Netherlanders in Hampshire.

Continue reading "Jinx strikes again as Dutch bow out"

London, England

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.

Continue reading "Noise, nosh and my expanding waist"

Chard, England

Note pads at the ready, here's a quick history lesson. Chard in Somerset was the headquarters of Cerdic, the first King of Wessex, who some are convinced the legend of King Arthur is based on.

It's a sleepy little town, typified by its lacklustre branch of Woolworths - the sort of place where you can pick up bargain CDs but have to wait half an hour to pay for them whilst the old lady at the front of the queue deliberates with the cashier over whether 57p really is the right price for a role of sellotape.

Continue reading "Portuguese deposed in Chard"

London, England

In my day, Swedes were blonde, thrashed themselves with birch twigs after a red-hot sauna and rarely wore clothes.

How things have changed. At London's Harcourt Arms, I discovered that modern-day Swedes come in all sorts of different hair colours: black, brunette, mousey, ginger and fair. I only got to rub shoulders with a handful of Ulrika Jonsson lookalikes as I watched their team capitulate to the Russians.

Continue reading "Reserved Swedes fail to inspire"

London, England

Thank goodness for Red Bull and espressos. By mid-afternoon on Tuesday, 11 days crisscrossing the UK and an early-hours finish in Northern Ireland the night before were taking their toll.

Belfast to London via Liverpool, with on-air commitments both ends of the day, was always going to be a challenge.

Continue reading "French take defeat with good grace"

Belfast, Northern Ireland

They say the Europa is the most bombed hotel in the world. It is also the epicentre of Belfast life; morning coffee, afternoon tea, lunches and dinners all served here.

It has photos of famous guests lining the walls of the staircase that leads to the huge pictured café bar gawping out on to Great Victoria Street. Former US President Bill Clinton, who once booked out the whole place for his entourage, even has one of the swanky suites named after him.

Continue reading "Beauties in Belfast"

Liverpool, England

There has been much speculation about my underpants during our Euro 2008 road trip and whether, with 18 days to the end of the quarter-finals, I would have enough pairs to see me through without having to resort to hand washing in the hotel basin.

Thankfully, the potential crisis was over before it even began. Not only did I bring the requisite figure, I also managed to do so without resorting to the couple of pairs I normally wear just before going on holiday or the bri-nylon brown and orange y-fronts I last wore in 1978.

Continue reading "Game, set and match in Liverpool"

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