Poland and Ukraine - Ten of the Best
Adam Hurrey's crusade to analyse, in excruciating depth, the unique language of football.
With his Euro 2012 journey almost complete, today on the blog our Euro 2012 correspondent Adam Hurrey gives us 10 of the best things to experience in both Poland and the Ukraine.
My Euro 2012 journey is drawing to a close. While I prepare for Thursday's semi-final between Italy and Germany here in Warsaw, I reflect on the highlights of Poland and Ukraine so far.
The Palace of Culture and Science
The tallest building in Poland, and the centrepiece of Warsaw. Unfortunately closed during Euro 2012, thanks to the FanZone that surrounds it, the Palace still provides a dramatic backdrop wherever you wander in the city.
One preconception that Poles and Ukrainians were particularly keen to dispel during the tournament is that of their respective cuisines. Pierogi and bigos proved to be the hearty accompaniments to the Polish beer that I expected, but one huge golonka (smoked ham hock) I devoured on a sunny afternoon in Gdansk was almost enough to consider emigrating there.
In Kiev, it felt like an obligation to try the borscht, but the salo (cured pork belly fat) was perhaps a step too far. Traditional Ukrainian restaurants trumped their Western-influenced counterparts, with wholesome options like galushki, similar to gnocchi. Fans at Euro 2012 will arrive home a few pounds heavier, but they’ll certainly have enjoyed getting there.
Panorama Bar, Marriott Hotel
The best view over Warsaw, taking in the Palace of Culture and Science and the National Stadium, while gazing down the seemingly endless Aleje Jerozolimskie. A lengthy cocktail menu either enhances or hinders the view, but it depends how many you have...
Fan Zone, Kiev
UEFA's Fan Zones can be a hit and miss affair. In Warsaw, it detracts from the monumental architecture around it, but Kiev's attempt was perfectly situated. Extending all the way down the grand Khreshchatyk Street, with huge screens allowing everyone a flawless view of the games, the FanZone in Kiev was about as tasteful an imposition on the city as UEFA could manage.
For the princely sum of 2 hryvnia (around sixteen pence), you can take a ride on one of the most dramatic metro systems in the world. Lying deep under the Kiev streets, the Metro is unquestionably the best way to navigate round the city. Once you've familiarised yourself with the Cyrillic alphabet, that is.
PGE Arena, Gdansk
The stand-out stadium on my trip so far. While the showpiece venues in Kiev and Warsaw will host the climactic games of Euro 2012, the amber gem of Gdansk produced an atmosphere they will struggle to match. Steep stands allow the 40,000 fans (it seems like many more) a perfect view of the pitch, with no pesky running track to dilute the experience.
A short journey north of Gdansk takes you to the coastal resort of Sopot. Golden beaches, charming sea-side restaurants and an impressive harbour of millionaires' yachts greet the visitor, as Sopot provided a timely respite from Euro 2012 fever. Highly recommended.
Mother of the Fatherland, Kiev
The breathtaking statue, 62 metres tall, towers over Kiev from its picturesque position on the bank of the Dnieper. Curiously absent from most official Euro 2012 fans' guides, the monument (and the museum of which it is part) is an essential stop for any visitor to Ukraine's capital.
Oberza Pod Czerwonym Wieprzem, Warsaw
Translates as the Inn Under the Red Hog, this curious restaurant (once you find it) is quite an experience. The communism theme extends to the menu, where you can order dishes named after Tito, Mao and Castro, with a gleeful disregard for the historical realities of it all. The portions are huge, while the service is both very friendly and hilariously slow.
I booked the PolskiBus from Warsaw to Gdansk and back with a certain amount of trepidation. Deliciously cheap fares, along with the promise of a shiny brand-new fleet of wifi-enabled coaches, tempted me in for the six-hour journey. Arriving and departing with admirable clockwork efficiency, the comfortable PolskiBus proved to be a great choice.
Adam will be covering Euro 2012 for the BettingExpert blog with thanks to our friends at Betfair.
For all the latest Euro 2012 betting offers and news, dont forget to follow BetfairSports on Twitter.
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