A very early flight on Air Berlin from Munich to Berlin Tegel. Didn't get any sleep and checked in at 5.30 am. Getting on board there was a stack of today's newspapers and some magazines. I ignored Suddeutscher Zeitung and the Financial Times and chose PLAYBOY!! Believe it or not! You really need to fly AIR BERLIN www.airberlin.com.
Only a 50 minute trip so not much time to translate all the interesting articles from German to English, so I had to look at the photos. The special was Girls from Mexicana Airlines-without their uniforms on !!! A free coffee, orange juice and a roll and we have landed. I'll have to look more at it on the train.
15 minute shuttle to the world's biggest train station, BERLIN Hbf. I was at the opening ceremony just prior to FIFA World Cup 2006. I had booked a seat on line to WARSAWA CENTRAL, a six hour trip on the Berlin-Warsaw Express run by PKP the Polish Railways. It stopped in Poznan, another EURO 2012 city which I had visited for a match a couple of years ago. My first time in the Polish capital which is pretty modern except for an eyesore of a building opposite the train station. The Palace of Culture, a gift from the Soviet Union. A multi tiered wedding cake structure that looks worn out and dated among the new skyscrapers going up. Not bad at night though, when it is lit up by different coloured floodlights.
I find a nice one room apartment in the city for about $35 a night with a balcony overlooking a park. The main street is a block away with stores open at least until 9.00pm and lots of places to eat. I stroll down the Royal Way to the Old Town, and grab a quick bite while listening to a girl play a violin outside Warsaw's Castle on the Wisla River. Across the Wisla is the stunning new National Stadium, Stadion Narodowy. In the cobbled streets of the Old Town the main square is lined with outdoor cafes and lots of indoor restaurants and bars. It all looks beautiful in the floodlights.
Not much sign of EURO 2012, but lots of signs of a facelift. I do find a shop on the main street selling a few Poland/Ukraine 2012 souvenirs, some hats, childrens toys, pens and pencil sets and air fresheners. I am here to organize tours for next year and have found some great accommodation already. I buy a 3 day transport pass for about $6.00 for the Metro, buses and trams which are very frequent.
I am also here for the Friday friendly match POLAND v MEXICO. It is to be played at the home stadium of LEGIA WARSAWA, since the national stadium is nowhere near complete. I visit the Polish Federation office and meet up with the Technical Director Gerry Engel, and our mutual friend is Jerry Panek in Milwaukee. www.pzpn.pl. I am given a ticket for the match and then catch the No. 9 tram back past the centre of Warsaw to the banks of the Wisla River and a close up of Stadion Narodowy. Still lots of work to be done but it seems as if there is end is an end in sight, with 10 months to go. I HOPE SO ANYWAY!!