18 June 2008

Alway red, white and blue

Again this is my column...but I took the time to write it and felt it was exactly what I wanted to say again so...let me know if you enjoy it..

As another time in Europe steadily comes a close, I find myself in a contradiction, unwilling to give up my Euro life but eager to readjust myself as a Yankee. Standing in Zagreb’s Ban Jelačić Square, I was back donning red, white and blue but it was nothing like my familiar stars and stripes.

Americans are born to be 24-hour patriots, ever since kicking some red coat butt in a little thing called the Revolutionary War. Old faithful is flown at every chance we get. However, for many Europeans, it’s unlikely to get misty when ever time they hear their national anthem but that all changes when soccer or aka football is involved especially when it’s on an international stage. With the European Championships in full swing qualified countries are blanketed in national pride.

Explosion of red, white and blue, similar to that of 4th of July fireworks, hit the square in the 24th minute of the match. Croatian midfielder Danijel Pranjić worked the ball down the left side of the field then crossing to Darijo Srna who blasted in the momentum boosting goal edging Croatia up 1-0 against Euro Championships favorites, Germany. Donning the home country’s red and white checkers the end of a ten-day excursion through Italy and Croatia couldn’t have been any sweeter.

In the blur of Ožujskos and a Croatian flag draped over my shoulders, the cool down brought me to reflection of what I have all seen since landing in “rustic’ Naples, Italy Jamming to Michael Jackson on top of volcano Mt. Vesuvius, only then to witness its wrath on Pompeii in 80 A.D. and bathe in the infectious mezzogiorno sun.

Leaving Naples, my British travel partner, David Clunie and I found that all roads led to Rome. The Italian capital is a cosmopolitan Archeological dig in progress. The intimidating Colosseum overshadows ancient ruins still waiting to be discovered.

“A common misconception is that Rome was a white, pristine marble city but actually it was very colorful kind of like Sesame Street but rated-R,” said Vatican city tour guide, Kristin Marie Ellis.

After visiting the Vatican City and we had to rip ourselves away from the most stunning piece of art known to mankind, the Sistine Chapel and the idealistic ancient Rome to find ourselves homeless and enduring third-degree sunburn on the Dalmatian coastal city of Split, Croatia.

While I have been in Germany for ten months now, the Mediterranean air has intoxicating effects after only ten days. I had a bittersweet joy watching the Germans crumble when the speed of Croatia’s striker Ivica Olić outshined German player Lukas Podolski and tapped in the winning goal for a 2-1 win to Croatia. The underdog’s victorious win led only for a national celebration and new hope for the upcoming Croatian showdowns.

As 9/11 illustrated sometimes it takes a national tragedy to fuel a nation’s patriotism but other times it only takes a small black and white ball to connect people whether they are natively Croatian, or just a British and American traveler learning for the first time what it meant to fly a different red, white and blue. I had traded the stars and stripes for checks but I guess I will always be red, white and blue at heart no matter what country is representing the colors.

So When in Germany...you don't necessaryily have to cheer on the Germans in any sporting event, I kinda like seeing them crumble a bit...sorry guys, Gold, Red and Black just feel weird to be, alway red, white and blue....

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