Archive for the ‘Western Europe’ Category

Where will you watch the final tomorrow?

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

If you live outside of Europe then you’ll probably be wondering which “final” I’m talking about.

I mean the final of Euro 2008the football (soccer) event that has been taking place in Austria and Switzerland for the past month. Probably of little interest to readers in the UK, the first round created little interest in Germany as well – except to the game against Austria which became so important to qualify for the final rounds.

The excitement reached a climax with Germany against Turkey – a match full of emotion with so many Turkish nationals living in Germany itself!

Tomorrow in the final Germany are up against Spain – and I shall very probably be watching it from the comfort of my own sofa in front of the television. Where else would I prefer to be?

How about in front of a large public screen in Frankfurt or Madrid?

With so many holidays makers from Germany on the Spanish islands, I could image somewhere like Mallorca or Lanzarote could be quite an interesting place to be as well.

But obviously top of the list has to be in Vienna for the final itself, doesn’t it?

With the exception of Frankfurt it would probably be the easiest as well – just get in the car and drive for 7 hours… after which I’d probably end up being rather tired and looking for a hotel. You don’t really think there would be any rooms available, do you?

Well there are – according to the site HotelsCombined. Admittedly most of the rooms for tomorrow night are not exactly cheap, but the FanCamp was offering a bed for the night for 38EUR – and was still advertising space available!

For a bit more style (and several hundred Euros) I could stay at Schloss Wilhelminenberg – a hotel in a former castle.

Now, how do I explain not being at work on Monday morning?

Demonstrations in Madrid

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

I was in Madrid last weekend for the Great Madrid Escape, when on Saturday afternoon – with not too much to due thanks to the weather – I ventured out of my hotel only to be confronted by police cars blocking off the street.

It turned out that a demonstration was about to take place and I stayed to watch and found out what it was all about.

The flyer that one of the passing demonstratos gave to me explained the main reason for the march. The week before there had been attacks by a group of right-wing “terrorists” who had thrown bottles and stones, requiring at least one person to need medical treatment.

They claim that was not an isolated incident, and that these “terrorists” are part of the far-right, neo-nazi scene, who want other people to be afraid to go out on the streets.

For this reason they organised the demonstration as an act of public defiance, to show that the working people of Madrid will not tolerate such violence in their city.

I have a feeling that many of the people there came with groups that have other main causes – the large red, yellow and purple flag for example was being carried by a group who wanted to make Spain a republic and to do away with the monarchy.

What fascinated me most was how different it was compared to such an event in Germany. Here, many people would turn away – in Madrid many passers-by stopped to listen and even take photographs. There were even family members walking alongside the march and passing in drinks to the marchers.

I often wonder if we do enough in Germany to stand up for our rights. The Spanish, or at least the Madrileños are definitely more passionate about theirs!

A puppet on a string?

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

Well, maybe not quite on a string, but still a puppet nonetheless.

Yes, it’s Dustin the Turkey – Ireland’s entry to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

As a big fan of the contest, I was almost shocked to read that the puppet had won the Irish pre-selection to the contest.   After all, was it not Ireland that brought us some of the best Eurovision ballads?

When I think of Ireland in the Eurovision, two songs immediately come to mind: “Rock’n’roll Kids” (winner in 1994) and “In Your Eyes” (winner in 1993).  This was part of “my” golden age for the contest – opening up to new countries in Eastern Europe, before they became smaller and more numerous, requiring the contest in two stages.

They were also the songs that accompanied me through my student year in Germany – the first winning before I left the UK and the second winning whilst I was there.

Last year, however, I became somewhat disillusioned by what seemed to be tactical voting.  I am please to see that the EBU has tackled this problem by splitting the contest into two semi-finals and making countries that often vote for each other take place in different ones from each other.

But still, I think the charm of the evening’s entertainment has been lost by spreading it out over three instead!

I guess the contest will just keep getting bigger and bigger…


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