So much to do, you’ll forget about the football

Boiled sausages, cabbage, and strong beer — it’s looking like the Irish fans will fit right in Poland.

You can even catch a bit of Mass if you feel a bit of last-minute religion might sway the man above to put a few of the games in our favour.

Given the close ties between Ireland and Poland, as a result of immigration in the last decade or so, it looks like the Irish can expect a favourable welcome when we arrive on their shores.

In fact, in Poznan, the Irish fans’ first stop on the road in Euro 2012, the mayor Ryszard Grobelny has even starred in a YouTube video welcoming the Irish as kindred spirits. They are, after all, the “potato people of Poland”.

So what can people expect in Poznan?

* Fan Camps:

The city itself is about twice the size of Dublin, with a population of more than 500,000. Much of the activity looks set to be centred in the Old Town. One of the most picturesque parts of the city, it will play host to the official Uefa FanZone, which is expected to cater for 30,000 people.

Entry to the FanZone is free of charge and will allow those who can’t track down tickets to watch the games on large screens. It will be open from 3pm until 2am on match days and from 3pm until midnight on rest days.

The zone will offer food and drink stalls and a variety of entertainment options. The general area also has an array of good bars and restaurants, particularly around the Stary Rynek district and is likely to be the hub for most fans visiting the city.

However, just a short taxi ride to the east of the Old Town is a fan zone with a more distinctly Irish flavour.

Situated on the banks of the scenic Lake Malta, the Malta Euro Funzone may only have accommodation for 1,000 people (750 tents and 250 camper vans), but will be the centre of all things Irish. It is also one of the cheaper options, costing just €10 or 44 zloty, approximately, on the nights when Mundy and the Rubberbandits take to the stage. Inside, the huddling masses of Irish fans can enjoy a break from Polish fare and take in slightly more traditional Irish soakage like a kebab or an all-day fry up. A large beer will only cost you 12 zloty, about €2. To make things even more attractive to thirsty fans, there will be a ‘Happy Hour’ every day between 5pm and 6pm where people can get two for one beers and shots.

Organiser Andrea Kennedy, originally from Cork but now living in Poland, said although the camp was aimed at Irish fans, it would attract its fair share of Polish people also.

“I suppose the thing that really annoys people is if you start hiking the prices, so we have made a conscious effort to keep things fair so people won’t be screwed on beer and food, things like that. There is an awful lot of goodwill towards the Irish here so we are also making the effort to attract Polish people here and make things women friendly,” she said.

Apart from the welcome treat of some Irish-style grub, there will be a whole host of daft events like dragon boat racing and a Ms Bikini Love competition, which will apparently feature some models from the Polish version of Playboy.

In fact, for the singletons hitting Poznan, not only will there be an attempt of the world speed dating record on Jun 16, there will be a speed dating event held every night. If you can’t get lucky here, you can’t get lucky anywhere.

The final option for those determined to camp their way across Poland is in the Carlsberg fancamp located in the south-west of the city, which will provide a home for thousands of fans. The camp will have space for accommodation in tents or camper vans. For 139 zloty, or €31, you get your space for the night with a breakfast and two beers thrown in for good measure. As well as having the usual mix of entertainment and bars, the camps are also equipped with shower facilities, 24-hour security, tents for purchase, a 24-hour grocery shop and direct transport to and from the stadium on match days.

* Food, Drink and Nightlife:

Poznan is nothing if not a vibrant town and Irish fans will certainly not go hungry or thirsty.

Even better news is that neither food nor drink is going to cost you very much in Poznan. The very best eateries the city has to offer will rarely charge above €30 for a meal and a pint is about €2.

If you fancy something a bit stronger than beer, Poznan has a host of communist-style vodka bars, most serving different flavours of vodka at €1 a shot. For the inexperienced Irishman, that’s a dangerous price!

For something a bit more like home, The Dubliner seems to be the main Irish pub in Poznan and is sure to attract greenshirted men and women like moths to a flame.

For some novelty dining, the Dark Restaurant will offer fans something they are unlikely to have experienced before. The restaurant pretty much does exactly what it says on the tin and let’s you dine in the pitch dark. The menu is based on what food you wish to experiment with. Don’t worry, it makes it to your table safely as waiters get to wear nightvision goggles.

Poznan is definitely a city for nightlife and is well known for its electro and dance music scene. Some of the better known clubs for dancing the night away are Cute and SQ Club.

For a more rock and roll flavour, the Lizard King is one of the city’s premier music venues while Brovaria is a popular upmarket mix of bar, restaurant, and nightclub.

Given the large student population in Poznan, some of the artsy venues like Dragon Bar, Kisielice and the communist-themed Proletaryat bar will be certain to attract large crowds.

* Transport

Getting around in Poznan is pretty straightforward. The public transport is efficient and well organised and has even been upgraded for the Euros.

Trams run from around 6am until 11pm, with a limited night service. Tickets depend on the time of the trip and are extremely cheap, usually in the range of two to four zloty for a single trip, which is less than a euro.

Bus and tram stops are all over the city and run from every five minutes to once every hour.

Taxis are also available in large quantities all over the city centre. However, some will charge extortionate prices.

A general rule of thumb is to avoid cabs with small ‘taxi’ signs on top and go for ones with the larger signs on the roof and which bear a four-digit phone number. These firms should accept a code so if you’re stopping at a hotel, ask if they have a code for their cab firm.

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