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Our tournament veteran and international ground hopper is on the road again in Poland and Ukraine. Introducing weeks one and two of his Euro 2012 diary

Week one

Sunday 3rd London to Brussels to Paris

As I set off on the Brussels Eurostar for my sixth Euro there are more Mickey Mouse fans, changing at Lille for Disneyland, than Belgium fans on their way home from Wembley. After lunch at a near-deserted Euro 2000 haunt, it's on to the home of Euro 84 – and 2016 – Paris.

Monday 4th Paris to Basel to Zurich to Milan

France v England is a week away but tennis is dominant here. It takes until page 11 for L'Equipe to recount gleefully the loss of Gary Cahill: "Ça commence bien!" - "This is beginning well!". The TGV takes me on to Basel and 2008 memories. There is still some football fever from the non-qualifiers: the Markthalle offering "Fussball EM 2012 Public Viewing". Touching faith in a former Switzerland manager means England's is among the flags luring people in.

Tuesday 5th Milan to Florence to Villach

After Zurich, then a night in Milan in honour of Euro 80, I'm on a pilgrimage to Florence's Stadio Communale, where Alan Mullery became the first England player sent off, in a Euro 68 semi-final lost to Yugoslavia. The Ukrainians say a statue of Donetsk's Welsh founder will have us swooning; as a point of comparison I visit the replica of Michelangelo's David outside the Palazzo della Signoria.

Wednesday 6th Villach to Zagreb

After a long haul I arrive for the first time in Zagreb – a Yugoslavian host city in 1976. In 2006 I couldn't get a ticket to see Paul Robinson succumb to a bad bounce; two years later work precluded a trip to Capello's 4-1 win – a match for which declining interest meant the FA had a ticket for every fan who wanted one.

Thurday 7th Zagreb to Vienna

Croatia picked up zero votes in its attempt with Hungary to host 2012, making England's 2018 World Cup bid look good, but the party must go on and a beer-sponsored marquee is going up in Zagreb's main square. I still have 1,500 Hungarian forints from Kevin Keegan's 1999 friendly but there is no buffet car for the six and a half hours to Vienna. At least I've stocked up on Ozujsko.

Friday 8th Vienna-Krakow

After 1,710 crow-fly miles and eight Euro venue cities, I arrive in Krakow. That's 70 miles more than England's round trip from here to Donetsk. The Poles get into the spirit for the opening game but the Germans are most boisterous - I'm not sure the cordon outside the Hotel Stary will protect our players from "One, two, three - Ger, Man, Y!"

Saturday 9th Krakow

Finally I am staying put somewhere. A smattering of autograph hunters and photographers queue at the Stary, lured by a people carrier. Steven Gerrard takes his seat quickly but Roy Hodgson pauses. "Thank you very much," he says to a well-wisher. Will he still feel like signing on Tuesday morning?

Week two

Sunday 10th Krakow to Gdansk

5.54am and, as the football special to Gdansk pulls out, Ireland fans heading for Poznan are singing. The venue for their Croatia game is only six hours away; Spain v Italy means nine hours for me. Chatting en route I mention three Italy goalless draws I've seen, including against Spain at Euro 2008. I later realise it is actually five – including at four consecutive Euros. Thank God for Di Natale and then Fábregas.

Monday 11th Gdansk to Krakow

Two trains, with a two-hour change at Warsaw, return me to my rented flat at 10am. Waking up again four hours later, I discover someone has been in to make some changes – relieving me of my laptop, the cash to pay for my Kiev apartment, my tickets to England's games against Sweden and Ukraine, and my vouchers for the knockout rounds. Uefa's website says no replacements.

Tuesday 12th Krakow to Warsaw

I decide to take my mind off it and head to Warsaw. Poland's game with Russia certainly proves worth the trip, even if I have to pick my way through the riots to collect my late-booked ticket. The collection point offers some unexpected hope about my lost tickets: despite Uefa's small print I should be able to get replacements … if I press on to Kiev.

Wednesday 13th Warsaw to Krakow

Another night by train takes me back to the flat – and, astonishingly, to another theft. This time the power cord for the laptop and some loose cash has gone. While I watch Portugal's dramatic win against Denmark on TV, the police, who trace the problem to a sticking lock, fingerprint some Hill Street Blues DVDs, left unfolded by my visitors. Of course, I no longer have a laptop to play them on. Some good news, though: the Kiev landlords will accept a week's money at a time while I attempt to fix the ticket problem.

Thursday 14th Krakow to Tarnow

Past trips to Auschwitz and Wawel Castle have been contrasting memorable experiences, but right now I just want to forget Krakow and move on. So I take a Kiev-bound train with a pub team from Clacton and some Swedes, but get off at Tarnow for some history and to watch today's games. A bomb explosion at Tarnow's railway station was arguably the first bloodshed of the second world war and a memorial marks the site of the first deportation of Jews to Auschwitz. Less sombre is the statue of the 14th-century king Wladyslaw Lokietek. "Touching the king's shoe brings luck and makes dreams come true." That will be one ticket and three points, please, your majesty.

Friday 15th Tarnow to Lviv to Kiev

Three Germans, two Poles, a couple of bottles of vodka and a buffet car still open at 2am lift the mood as two trains deliver me on time to Kiev to check in to another apartment – and to inspect all the locks. Then the moment of truth: thanks to the police report I was handed in Krakow, I am told at the stadium that if I come back at 9.45pm, kick-off time, they can reprint my ticket. King Wladyslaw even throws in a rain delay in Donetsk, so I do not miss a moment of one of the most memorable wins in my 27 England years.

Saturday 16th Kiev

In the early hours, three Ukrainians insist on sharing some vodka – and then one of them walks off without his mobile, so I get to do someone else a favour. The apartment is exactly as I left it. In the afternoon it turns out I'll have to repeat the ticket procedure in Donetsk. Storms are forecast, but the apartment has a DVD player, so I can always stay in, save money and watch Hill Street Blues.

Philip Cornwall writes about following England for Football365.com Read More

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