Kris Fernandes is a FIFA accredited freelance writer based in Toronto. He has been actively involved in spreading the love of the beautiful game in Canada and abroad for several years through administration, media coverage and coaching. He also covered the 2006 FIFA World Cup live for CBCSports.ca with the popular journal series, "A Canadian in Germany". Contact Kris at firstname.lastname@example.org
INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA — After partying hard with the Scots, I took the five-hour train ride to gorgeous Innsbruck. Famous for where the 'Sound of Music' was filmed, it is easily the most scenic city I have ever visited.
Nestled in a large valley, Innsbruck is the type of city that blows your mind right away. Euro fever has swept the city and it seems that everyone is involved one way or another - the main street was full of local vendors, selling strong Austrian pints and cheap Jagermeister.
This suited both the Swedish and Spaniards just fine, as they are two of the most hard-drinking and vocal groups of supporters in soccer. I have seen both teams play several times at prior tournaments and was licking my chops at what they'd bring to the table.
They are also a colourful bunch when it comes to dressing up for matches. Swedish fans always crack me up with their Viking gear, especially with the oversized horns. Some of them actually grow beards for months just for these tournaments.
Spanish fans, however, are never to be outclassed in this department. They were just a raucous bunch from the start, with countless matadors waving massive bull-printed flags. Many of them also dress as Flamenco dancers, complete with a rose in their teeth.
Both groups launched chant after chant at one another outside the stadium but it was all in good fun and the atmosphere couldn't have been better.
Unless you were willing to bust the bank, tickets were hard as heck to get, going for $500 a pop. The good news was that there were two fan zones to watch Sunday's game.
The fans were really into it throughout the game and when David Villa scored the winner in injury time, the Spaniards went ballistic and went roaring down the main street. You could feel the ground shake and I swear I thought I was in Pamplona for the running of the bulls.
I went to the fan zone to catch the Greece-Russia match at the top of this Olympic ski-jumping park, which is by far and away the best place outside of the stadium to watch a game. It had a gigantic screen with a large stage to its left and the best view possible.
As expected, each Swede seemingly had a six-pack in each hand, while the Spaniards had their arms locked around each other singing gloriously till their voices died.
The party finished off at the other fan zone where music blared until 3 am. By European standards, Canada's national anthem should be Bryan Adams 'Summer of 69', as I hear it four times a day and it makes me feel at home.
These are the best days of my life.