Sunday Lviv to Kiev
The Warsaw quarter-final trip has helped keep my mind off tonight but straight off the express I pick up my Italy ticket, with the aid of the police report into the theft I suffered in Poland. The FA's man swaps emails with Uefa then says: "You'll have to go through this procedure again before the next match." Alas, the slip does not prove to be an omen. Amid the afternoon optimism I advise friends hoping to fly out to our semi or the final, as I soak in the atmosphere; but after being soaked with tension in the evening, in the early hours it is with melancholy and beer. For five straight Euros I have seen an Italy goalless draw; and it's my fourth England penalty defeat.
Monday Kiev to Lviv
The capital seems quieter, not just because of hangovers; no game here till the final. On my journey west a smattering of English and Italians join locals getting used to the idea of expresses: promotional videos extol the country, the host cities and, at great length, every feature of the train. Green buttons with arrows on them open doors! My phone company texts me on the assumption I am coming home now England are out, to say I should turn off some features, but I am not done.
Tuesday Lviv to Warsaw
At 7am I board a sleeper from Kiev, having cheated with a proper night's snooze in a hotel. In doing so I wake two English women, heading home somewhat less rested. None of us look like smugglers – at least the alsatians don't think so – but the border guards are returning to form. The most stringent previous search has consisted of my being asked to remove my glasses for a passport check; now Ukrainians and Poles demand we open bags and rucksacks, though the woman who asks "Narcotics?" does so with a bright smile.
In England's absence I have no ticket for tomorrow so spend the afternoon touring landmarks and looking for the usual suspects: not touts, but groups in team shirts or casually dressed and sat outside cafes with an air of nothing much to do. Some have scrawled signs and tickets in menu holders; one group attracts the eye but instead of a spare all I get a glimpse of is Adrian Chiles.
As kick-off arrives there are German and Italian fans without tickets and people with spares that will become expensive souvenirs if they are not sold soon. Prices are stubborn so I keep my money for the final and watch the game with a group of Poles who serenade me with God Save the Queen – and get the words right, unlike England fans who always sing "our" where it should be "the". As I head back into town Varsovians are taking farewell pictures of their stadium in its Euro 2012 livery. The show is almost over.
Friday Warsaw to the border
On the Kiev sleeper, hot, sweaty football fans sit around in their underwear after a mad dash from the wrong station. The air-con works only when the train is moving; as always it takes two sticky hours to change the gauge on the carriages at the border. It has been a wonderful month but as the climax beckons the travel is starting to pall.
Saturday The border to Kiev
Michel Platini says Euro 2020 could be held all across the continent; there speaks a man who is flown between matches on other people's money. Up against the Fan Zone, supporters of the imprisoned Yulia Tymoshenko are making their case against President Viktor Yanukovych in various ways, a reminder that the face of a country presented in a tournament is dolled up. I have not sought the "real" Poland or Ukraine, sticking to and loving the football construct. But perhaps England's World Cup away qualifiers, in October and then September next year, when only we, not the world, are watching will give me a clearer glimpse of life beyond a party I have so much enjoyed.
انسخ الكود التالى و ضعه فى موقعك او مدونتك.