Monday, 14 June 2010

World Cup fever hits Budapest

At any time of the year most of Budapest's bars and cafes have televisions showing football, so it's no surprise that finding somewhere to watch the World Cup is not a problem.

The authorities here have set up a number of large screens in popular open spaces in the city, and the most convenient for me is in Szabadsag ter (Freedom Square), probably the most beautiful open space in the whole of the city. At one end of a large grassy area is the screen, and around this is a ring of refreshment stalls, all serving cold draught beer, which seems almost incomprehensible to a Brit, who would see it as a recipe for social disaster.

However, in a country where social drunkenness is very much frowned upon hundreds of people watching football surrounded by cheap beer is perfectly okay, and it created a wonderfully laid-back atmosphere last Saturday night, where people gathered to watch England's opening game of the tournament.

A sizeable number of people in the crowd cheered excitedly when England raced into a one goal lead but there was a stunned silence and an almost embarrassed cheering from the small American contingent when the United States got their rather strange equaliser. Enough said about that.

Hopefully things will improve, and that the relaxed atmosphere of Freedom Square will not continue to affect the England team's performance.

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