Wednesday, June 14, 2006

World Cup in Poland (June 15)

I watched the Poland-German world cup match last night. The pub across the street from the hostel set up a big screen tv on their patio and some 50-75 people crowded around, watching the game and drinking beer, all wearing red and white shirts, hats, or flags (Poland's colors).

Whenever Poland's goalie would save the ball, the crowd would yell "Artur! BORUC!! Artur! BORUC!!" (his name -- pronounced Borutz, by the way). They sang one chant to the tune of Guantanamera that I think was "I love you Poland." There was also the "red-white Poland" chant and the ubiquitous "POL!! SKA!! (clap clap clap) POL!! SKA!! (clap clap clap)."

The streets were mostly deserted once the game began; everyone was crowded around tv sets to watch the game. During the first half, when it looked like Poland was playing better offense, the crowd got excited at every attempted goal. During the second half, when it looked like Germany was playing better offense, they cheered every time Boruc blocked the shot. There were three police vans parked across the street in case the crowd got to rowdy and since there was no place to sit, I was standing far in the back, about a 15-second dash to the hostel front door if things got out of hand, but nothing happened.

After 90 minutes of zero-zero, the game when into extra minutes, and at 91 minutes, Germany scored the only goal of the game. The crowd got very somber and very quiet. Two minutes later the game was over.

Apparently, by the way, there was a small group of German tourists there and when Germany scored the goal, one of them started cheering, but quieted down real fast when he saw how everyone else reacted (I didn't see it, but some of the other hostel guests told me about it afterwards).

Today is the holiday of Corpus Christi in Poland. It has something to do with the body of Jesus, and will be celebrated today by processions of priests displaying the communion wafer. I'm going to avoid all of that by going straight to Hel, a small fishing village on the Baltic coast, where, I'm told, there's some nice beaches.

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