Euro 2008 Adventure: Day Two (Zurich)
I arrived safely in Zurich this morning after almost 24 hours of traveling from the States. I’m exhausted but so glad I’ve made the trip.Surprisingly Zurich hasn’t caught football fever yet. The city is pretty silent although the city centre and shops are busy with tourists. So far, though, it seems that most of the football fans haven’t arrived. With Romania scheduled to play France tomorrow in Zurich, I’m expecting tomorrow will be a different experience entirely.After arriving in Zurich this morning around 9am local time, Oleg Zhovnir (winner of the free ticket to accompany me on the trip) and I walked from the train station to the hotel, checked in our luggage and then proceeded to tour the city.The first stop on our tour was the Fan Zone, where the two matches today will be shown on giant screen televisions (one of which is suspended on the water of Lake Zurich). Vendors selling beer and food line the Fan Zone area, but it’s still several hours before kickoff between Austria and Croatia.We decided to get a bite to eat and something to drink at a vegetarian cafe near the lake. Without a doubt, the weak American dollar is killing us. A glass of tap water was $3.50 and a sandwich $7.50. But I’m not surprised.Walking through the city, we saw very few football fans. A few Romanian fans wearing jester hats, a German wearing his national shirt sipping coffee in a Starbucks and a few supporters of Czech Republic. If it wasn’t for all of the Swiss stores with their Euro 2008 themed window displays, a tourist dropped into the city wouldn’t realize that the biggest tournament in the country’s history is taking place right now.I asked the hotel receptionist what the atmosphere was like yesterday and she replied that it has been very calm so far, and confirmed with me that everything seems very Swiss, i.e. sedate and organized.We took a few minutes to walk through the Euro 2008 Official Superstore alongside the Zurich Stadt Haus. Official replica shirts here are $120 for Portugal and $100 for other countries such as Sweden. Everything, as I mentioned before, is super expensive.The headlines on the newspaper stands here are all talking about Frei, who was taken off at half-time in yesterday’s opening match due to his injury. The sight of Frei crying his eyes out due to the realization that his Euro 2008 tournament was presumably over is on the front pages of some of the leading newspapers.I’m planning on taking a nap for a couple of hours to rest up for the Fan Zone festivities tonight which are only 1,000 yards from my Helmhaus hotel. Feel free to post any questions you have about the atmosphere in the comments below. But suffice to say, everything here is ghostly quiet and calm thus far.View the slideshow of Euro 2008 images from Zurich.