Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Tue 27 May 2008

Euro 2008: 11 days to go...

The latest leg of our Euro 2008 build-up today focuses on the cities where the matches will be played.

The trouble is that Austria and Switzerland, the co-hosts, are... how can we put this... not all that interesting. Oh don't get us wrong, they're both beautiful countries in their own way, but when it comes to making them sound appealing for the purposes of an article like this, you've really got your work cut out.

We therefore present to you our guide to the venues of Euro 2008 featuring all the interesting facts you need to know about each one... or more to the point, the only interesting facts we could find on each one full stop.

Vienna

Vienna is twinned with, amongst others, Los Angeles, Moscow and Zagreb - ironic given that Croatia are in Austria's Euro 2008 group. If Croatia beat the Austrians, I wonder if they'll break all ties with them?

Vienna is also where you'll find the Tiergarten Schönbrunn - the world's oldest zoo.

Vienna is where Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Johann Strauss all lived.

It's also famous for those culinary delicacies, the Wiener schnitzel (fried veal in breadcrumbs) and apple strudel.

Innsbruck

Innsbruck hosted the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics.

It's also said to be where Douglas Adams got his inspiration for 'The Hitchhikers Gudie to the Galaxy' when visiting there in 1971.

The most successful local sportsman is Markus Prock, winner of silver medals in the luge at the 1992 and 1994 Winter Olympics. No, we haven't heard of him either.

Klagenfurt

Klagenfurt has an annual BeachVolleyball Grand Slam event that attracts competitors from all over the world. Not bad for a city 446 metres above sea level.

Klagenfurt was a contender for hosting the 2006 Winter Olympics, but missed out to Turin, Italy.

One of Klagenfurt's visitor attractions is the 'Minimundus', a park featuring miniature scale models of well-known buildings and landmarks from around the globe. Fabulous.

Salzburg

Salzburg is the birthplace of the great composer, Mozart.

Means 'salt castle' from the barges that travelled up the Salzach river centuries ago.

Much of the film 'The Sound of Music' was filmed in Salzburg.

Tourists are advised to visit any one of large number of salt mines in the city. Many have facilities available such as cafés, but you're best off not ordering their bacon sandwiches - they're a bit... oh, you're ahead of us on that one.

Basel

Basel is a major industrial centre for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry in Switzerland.

It's also the home town of renowned tennis player, Roger Federer.

One of the main music venues in the city is the 'Bird's Eye Jazz Club'. Great music, but we wouldn't recommend the food - it's mainly frozen stuff, apparently.

Zurich

Zurich is where you'll find the headquarters of FIFA. No bias towards giving Switzerland the co-hosting rights there, then.

Johanna Spyri, author of the well-known children's book 'Heidi' was born here. Though she lived to the ripe old age of 74, she didn't get to see the 26-part adaptation of the story that was made for TV in the late-1970's. Some people have all the luck...

Zurich also has some 1,200 free drinking fountains, making it one of the world's most fontainous cities. (You see - it's not every football blog site that uses words like 'fontainous', you know...)

Geneva

...is where the Geneva Conventions come from. They're made up of four treaties that outline the correct treatment of non-combatants and prisoners of war. So there.

Geneva's main football club is Servette. Their perennial boast was that they were the only club never to have been relegated from the top flight in Switzerland throughout their history. Sadly in 2005, Servette's parent company went bankrupt and the club were relegated to the third tier. You've gotta laugh, haven't you?

Geneva has featured heavily as a location in many movies and TV shows, including 'Goldfinger', 'Three Colours: Red', 'Babylon 5', and most importantly of all from a cultural perspective, 'Mighty Morphin Power Rangers'.

Berne

Berne is where Albert Einstein created his Theory of Relativity while working as a clerk in a patent office.

Berne is home to a number of interesting museums including a Natural History Museum, an Alpine Museum and a Psychiatry Museum, although of course no-one in their right mind ever visits the Psychiatry Museum.

Berne also has an annual fair every fourth Monday in November called the 'Zibelemärit' or 'onion market'. It's where the locals get together every year to celebrate the many wonders of the tear-inducing vegetable and it's here you can buy such delicacies as onion pie, onion sausages and onion soup. Oh, and apparently they sell onions as well.

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