I went by train up to Leipzig a day before we had to collect the campervan, and stayed with a friend, Matt, who's also a English Language Assistant in Germany. The next day the journey to Poland would begin....
On the outskirts of Leipzig two of us collected the campervan and were to meet the other three lads in Poland. I'm glad I wasn't driving because that campervan looked impossible to drive and on the wrong side of the road aswell. After travelling across the border into Poland we realised that it would be too late to find a campsite so we pulled into a petrol station and stayed in the car park for the night. There were a few dodgy looking lads loitering around the garage but despite them we eventually got some sleep.
The next day was the Czech Republic - Russia game. We hung out with some Czech fans before the game and had a few beverages. A Czech guy and I noticed that he had Czech flip flops on and I had Irish ones on so we decided to swap one. I still have it now but it's way too big, which means there's some poor lad walking around Czech Republic with an Irish flip flop on around 4 sizes too small. The game was very enjoyable with a good atmosphere. Here's a picture of us with the Czech fans before the game. (With a Saints flag of course) But that atmosphere was nothing compared to what we were about to witness in Poznan...
We found a space in the Carlsberg Campsite in Poznan along with half the population of Ireland and some of the campervans were quality. Lads in a campervan beside us had a paddling pool with them, tennis equipment, giant beach balls etc and the party had really started.
Apart from losing, the whole match day was brilliant. The entire day all I could hear was "Team of Gary Breens" "I've got Glenn Whelan that tonight's gonna be a good night" "Stephen Ireland's grandmother's alive-alive-oh" and of course "Olé Olé". After the game there was the trouble between some Croatia and Polish fans but it was a minority. Most of their fans were very friendly to the Irish. As night turned to morning we knew it was soon time to leave Poznan and travel up to Gdansk to play reigning World champions Espana. Could the highest paid international coach in the world out-master the Spaniards, we would have to wait and see.....
After waiting for 4 minutes it was clear to see that the answer was 'no' as Ireland were 1-0 down. I'm not going to describe the game in detail as we all know what happened. After the game it was time to go back into the city and celebrate. "You'll never beat the Irish" etc etc. being sung every 5 minutes but to be fair we did manage to get a few Pats songs going. Gdansk is a great place for a holiday. The beach was good craic, except I swam out too far and almost got hit by a speedboat going by.
Next it was the long trip from Gdansk back down to Wroclaw for Czech Republic vs Greece. We kind of got lost on the way down but we knew the campsite we were staying in was near enough to the zoo so while stopped in traffic one of our lads asked a Polish fella where the Campsite was. It was one of the funniest conversations I've ever heard.
Us: "Sorry mate can you tell me where this campsite is? *Gives name of campsite*"
Polish guy: "You mean Dutch village?"
Us: "What? No campsite. Football. Campsite for campervan. Football"
Polish guy: "Dutch village"
Us: "No. campsite. Where's the zoo? Animals! Where are the animals?"
Then the lights turned green and we were going again. We missed the first half and arrived in our seats just in time for the second half. We met a few Czech lads that we had seen at the first game against Russia. They were much more happy now having seen their team take all 3 points against a mediocre Greek side.
After a night celebrating, a few of us slept under the campervan for a few hours (don't ask) before it was time once again to hit the road and go back to Poznan for the final group game vs Italia. Everyone was wrecked at this stage after 2 weeks of celebrating and the day after the Italia game it was time to go back to Deutschland.
It was only really at the end of the holiday that we realised we wouldn't really be getting our deposit back for this campervan. The floor was a mess, the beds were a mess and we were missing a door. We still don't know how it came off the hinges. The campervan got back to it's rightful owners and thank Gormley we didn't have to pay anything extra.
I went back to Bad Kissingen with a sore head, memories that will last a lifetime, and a flip-flop from a Czech fan. The craic was 90.You'll never beat the Irish.