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The Hoi Polloi Are Coming: Vienna Uneasy about Approaching European Championships - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

ienna is much more comfortable in the world of theater and high art, coffee and cake. But next weekend, thousands of football fans will descend on the city for the Euro 2008 soccer championships. Not everyone is pleased.

It was an historical moment. In 1978, the first subway line in Vienna opened for business, and the celebration was full of the pomp one would expect. Finally, residents from the working-class district of Favoriten could cruise into the heart of the city in less than 20 minutes. Not all, however, were pleased about the new train line. Now, complained the Viennese daily Die Presse, the city will be flooded with the hoi polloi. Not a few agreed with the paper.

PHOTO GALLERY: MIXED FEELINGS AHEAD OF EURO 2008

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This year, the masses are descending on the city once again. In just over a week, Euro2008, the European championship soccer tournament, will kick off in host countries Austria and Switzerland. And many of the fans are planning on heading straight to Vienna. Once the opening match between Switzerland and the Czech Republic on June 7 is out of the way, authorities predict that some 2 million fans in total -- or 100,000 guests per day -- will find their way to the Austrian capital. Tens of thousands from Poland and Croatia and a further 400,000 from Germany -- all teams in Group B along with Austria -- are expected.

The three and four star hotels in the city have been booked out for months. Even the ultra-sumptuous Hotel Sacher across from the Viennese Opera, will be packed, says Director Reiner Heilmann. The waiting list is extensive, and there is little chance of relief, even once teams are eliminated in the latter stages of the tournament, he says.

by Fran on Sat May 31st, 2008 at 05:20:32 AM EST
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