After getting out the door late due to a Punshine shoot, I cycled to King and University to catch the tail-end of Germany-Costa Rica.
Alas, I couldn't even get into that fancy-looking Goethe Insititute Library. The scheisskopf at the door says the match is a 'private viewing only', and kicks me outta there rather schnell. Hmph, a bit rude. It's the freakin' World Cup, global celebration of competition and sportsmanship - why throw the Berlin Wall at me? (their own website says 'watch the games with us!'). Poor showing for the host Germans, but I don't argue - I know I'll get revenge for these Gestapo tactics on my blog.
Detouring to Pura Vida on Lansdowne to bask in Costa Rican sapore was unrealistic - it's too far and Game 1's almost over (Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2). I discount my opening-game failure to experience, and scope out tiny El Penco restaurant for warmer Ecuadorian hospitality before Game 2. But the shop owner doesn't have his television out yet for the tournament; King St's turning up goose-eggs. So I make brief smalltalk with the patrons, inhale a delicious bean burrito (only $2.39) and hop on Mario toward Polishtown.
I cruise the lovely strip separating High Park from Parkdale; the neighbourhood's remarkably quiet despite World Cup madness. Game 1 is still early, granted, but it's way happenin' on College Street and Portugal isn't even playing yet. I bypass a dozen or so local bakeries and cafes (in varying degrees of DePolishization and ReYuppification) and alight at the most Polish venue on Roncesvalles.
At Old Poland Restaurant are gathered all kinds of local TV persons, radio and photographers who - like me - hope for a nationalistic spectacle. The crowd wasn't huge but with the media turning heads the place is stirring. I enter with a smile and order a large Zubr (beer) from the grandmotherly taverness, then plop down for my first taste of the action. Cute blonde women in red-white flag-dresses are being interviewed by CTV and the FAN 590 AM, and a well-coiffed Scotsman loudly holds court on Polish football beside his well-dressed Persian girlfriend. As the gun goes I think twice about ordering borscht from the hand-written relic of a menu; I sip my beer and gaze at the wood-panel television in the corner.It is a good game, with a surprise winner. Poland outworks Ecuador in the first half but the Ecuadorian forwards Tenorio and Delgado are too talented, scoring a pair of magical goals (the first by Tenorio off a twin-header following a throw-in). The Polish team fought hard and had their chances late but they couldn't get lucky, and as injury time runs out the South Americans rejoice.The red-and-white crowd sighs and disperses along Roncesvalles. Looks like an early World Cup exit for the Poles.