Germany are based in the Baltic Polish city of Gdansk and so far have played all their matches in Ukraine. This has led to the rather unique situation that, so far, no German fans have shown up near the team camp.
But with the first few scattered supporters curiously peeking over the barrier of the press conference area today, this got me thinking of the thousands more who are likely to follow in the next days. Around 12,000 fans have supported Germany in their group-stage matches in Ukraine, many of them having taken their cars on long journeys east. With the Gdansk trip much closer, at least that number are expected for Friday's quarter-final with Greece.
So I thought I'd share a couple of my experiences here in Gdansk with the German fans. It is among the most beautiful venues of UEFA EURO 2012 and, for me, certainly has the most beautiful stadium!
I have to say a trip to Warsaw before the tournament and certainly the past few weeks here have changed my view of the country. Before, I had an image of 1980s eastern Europe but this is a distinctly modern society. People are extremely friendly and try to help you even though they don't always understand your language. A fair number are willing and able to speak English and German, though, and often menus in restaurants are provided in those languages.
Fans will certainly love the beautiful old town where Spanish and Croatian fans mingled before their big game on Monday. If you only have the slightest cultural inclinations, a visit to the impressive St Mary's Church – the Bazylika Mariacka – the world's largest brick church, is a must. My colleague Justin Schroll and I climbed the 410 steps to the observation platform on its tower and from there had an incredible view of the entire city. The nearby town of Sopot, with its incredible beach and party mile, will surely be a hit with German fans.
And I cannot get enough of the Polish cuisine, especially around the old town. Believe me, it is incredible! You have to try pierogi, the delicious dumplings, all washed down with the local piwo (beer), a Polish word many German fans will already know!
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