Krakow may not be hosting any matches during UEFA EURO 2012, but the city does have an important role to play.
No less than three teams – England, Italy and the Netherlands – are based here. I have been here since Saturday, and the reception at the airport was special in itself, with the words 'Welcome to Krakow' on big orange posters ensuring a nice welcome for a Dutchman!
After making myself at home in the hotel, there was more time to explore on Sunday. On a mild, sunny day, people were out in their droves to enjoy the beautiful city centre. Once the capital of the Polish kingdom, the entire medieval old town of Krakow is among the first sites chosen for UNESCO's original World Heritage List. This weekend the terraces were filled with families enjoying food and drink, with others touring the area on horse-drawn coaches. It felt like UEFA EURO 2012 was far away; the calm before the storm.
Digging a little deeper, though, it was easy to see people busy setting up fan parks. Another sign that Krakow was eagerly anticipating the start of the EURO was the queue of people awaiting the 25,000 free tickets for the Oranje's first public training session on Wednesday evening. They were sold out in a flash.
When the Netherlands squad arrived in Krakow on Monday, a group of schoolchildren sang a classic Dutch football song to welcome them. They must have practised for this for months in order to sing it in almost perfect Dutch, surprising the players and staff when they left the plane to enter their bus. Oh yes, Krakow is definitively ready for UEFA EURO 2012 to start!
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