The Fan Zone!

Trip Start Aug 18, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Bakkara Art-Hotel Kiev
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Ukraine  ,
Saturday, June 9, 2012

Quick early morning flight out of Belarus put us in the capital of Ukraine for three full days filled with fantastic football fun!Just outside of the main station we came across dozens of reminders that the football championship was being hosted by Ukraine, and this country was damn proud of it. 

 They had very thoughtfully put volunteers in strategic locations where they would be needed for advice and directions. During the three days, those volunteers helped us more than once.

 Our hotel was not that far away, but from the airport it was a long way. We had to get to the main central station, on a long hot bus ride, and then a cab took us on a roundabout drive to our very nice hotel right on the river.

 We were all pretty exhausted by the time we got to the hotel, so a short power nap and lunch was what was needed, topped off with the ever present beer. None of us ever got drunk, but I think that the guys were all enjoying the cheap beer. Half the time I was ready for a big glass of water, but instead got beer. I should not complain, but it was hot and humid and the beer, while nice was not the thirst quencher I was looking for. We looked over the map and discussed what was to be done. The best part of the map was the advertisement that helped arrange weddings for basically mail order brides, still a big business in Ukraine.

 After the much needed rest we headed to the fan zone. There are eight host cities for the Euro 2012 games, four in Poland and four in Ukraine. We headed out to the one in Kiev, which was bustling with activity and schemes trying to get the over excited beer drenched tourists money. In case you had any doubt who was sponsoring the event, you could just walk a few feet and be bombarded with Carlsberg, Coke or McDonald’s advertisements. Honestly after one lap around the street if you did not want to stop for a big plastic cup of Carlsberg there was not much to do. There were some giant televisions set up where each game would be broadcast. 

 We found the Swedish base bar and stopped to have a cup of Carlsberg, of course. Sweden will be playing it all of its matches in Kiev, so there base is here. Other countries had bases in the other seven cities. Even though it was two days before Sweden played, all of the Swedes were hyped by the energy, cheap beer, and good weather. Much cheering, singing and taunting was going on all over the area.

 Four different countries were playing tonight, so the Carlsberg themed supporters were walking around being photo ops for the tourists. On this day we saw representatives from the Danish, Dutch, German, Portuguese teams.

 Outside of the fan zone was a protest zone. The former prime minister was thrown in jail and has been beaten and assaulted since being there and now is on hunger strike. She was part of the orange revolution in the early 2000’s. The man who took over after her trumped up some charges and put her on trial as a criminal. A result of this caused most of the European countries to boycott the games in Ukraine.

 The game between Denmark and the Netherlands would be starting soon, so we decided to go and watch a game in the zone. However, the benches had long ago been claimed, so we were forced to sit on the ground or stand. After one half we decided to hurry back to the hotel and watch there. This was a good decision, because it began raining.

 Back at the hotel I had a bit of a stomach ache, so I slept through half of the second game before going to join the group in the other room to finish it. I think the fast paces late night, early morning was getting to me. Full day tomorrow!
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