While hiding out in Europe waiting for the LeBron thing to blow over, I experienced the impact of the world's biggest sports event from a new perspective.
A brief review:
Watched overtime of U.S.-Ghana game outside a Newark Airport restaurant; people were packed three or four deep.
Watched Germany-England in a London pub. It was hot. It was crowded. It was . . . a location of profound displeasure with the performance of the national side.
British tabloids and TV spent the next week ripping the national team coach and players - and FIFA's refusal to use video replays on the goal line - in a fashion that would have made the New York tabloids blush.
My favorite headline, from the Daily Mail: "If The Few had defended as badly as England, we'd all be speaking German now."
While sitting in a restaurant in Paris, heard a commotion in the streets during Ghana-Uruguay. It turned out Ghana had blown a chance to win it on a penalty kick. Watched the shootout from the window outside a cafe. People were 10 deep.
Saw Spain's game-winner against Paraguay outside another Paris cafe. A presumably Spanish waiter began jumping up and down for several minutes.
While walking down the Champs-Elysees observed German fans honking horns and waving flags after victory over Argentina. Germans parading down Champs-Elysees in a display of national pride? Awkward!
Home for final. Watched second half in 3D before Yankees-Mariners 3D screening in Manhattan Sunday.
One non-World Cup experience from my visit to Europe:
After decades of reading Stan Isaacs' list of the world's best chocolate ice creams - first in Newsday, later on thecolumnists.com - topped as always by Berthillon on Ile Saint-Louis in Paris, I finally checked it out.