More Than a Game will begin its Euro 2012 adventure in the beautiful Ukrainian city of Lviv Photo (c) Jan Mehlic
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
In the space of a couple of days, Euro 2012 seems to have changed from a 'concept' we have all been discussing for several months to a real event that is only a few weeks off. It is almost as if we have all finally woken up from the winter, - the English FA included - dusted off our maps of Ukraine and Poland, and started emailing all our friends and contacts to see who is planning to go where...and when.
Sadly, three of the 'stars' from South Africa 2010 - Geordie Robin, Blackburn and Colombian Rich - won't be travelling out to Ukraine but, hopefully, Camper Van Nick might join ten days in to the tournament.
More Than a Game will begin our Euro 2012 in the beautiful Ukrainian city of Lviv, with our first match the eagerly anticipated clash between the two highly talented teams of Germany and Portugal.
In Lviv we are hoping to meet up with two German friends from the Argentina Copa America: Nuremberg Charles and Copa America Andy. They will be among the 20,000 or so Germans travelling to Ukraine for the tournament.
Looks like we have accommodation in the bag for the two nights before the Germany v Portugal game but all of the city's hotels are completely booked out for June 9. The best offer we've had for a hostel bed thus far for June 9 is 50 euro. You must be joking if you think we are going to cash out nearly fifty quid to sleep in a 16-bed dormitory! We are not dorm-mented!
With many football fans put off from travelling to Ukraine Euro 2012 because of the reported high prices of accommodation, the message from More Than a Game is: shop around, be patient and don't panic.
It has been our experience from all past major tournaments that local hoteliers will, of course, jack up their accommodation prices prior to a FIFA World Cup or a UEFA European Championships in the hope that visiting supporters will be willing to pay whatever is asked of them.
Many supporters will already have foolishly bitten the bullet and cashed out 300 euro per night for an apartment in Kyiv; others sadly will have abandoned their original plans to travel to the Euro tournament. But, for those fans who are yet to book any accommodation in Kiev, Donetsk, Kharkiv and Lviv, try to remember that many fans and corporate guests will cancel their hotels (as they always do) just prior to the tournament, freeing up thousands of rooms in the process that hotel and guest house owners will then struggle to fill.
While most sites on the Internet offering accommodation are still asking astronomical prices, there are sites such as www.hotelsukraine.com/ua/en where you will find the odd gem, especially if you are willing to base yourself in satellite towns close to the host cities during the tournament.
The best site we have so far found on the Internet for accommodation in Ukraine is run by travel experts TUI. Putting in a random search for 'Donetsk' for 3 nights between June 12-15, we found accommodation available for as low as 40 euro per night for two people sharing a double room in Donetsk. Try www.accom2012.com for the dates you are looking for and you may strike lucky. The company boasts that they have 32,000 places in Kyiv alone.
Euro organisers will also be providing extra accommodation options in 'tented cities' during the Euros. So, whether you manage to book your accommodation in advance or decide to leave it until you are 'on the ground' in Ukraine, there is certainly no need to panic about Ukrainian bunk beds....well not just yet anyway.
Just 20 weeks to go until the start of Euro 2012 and I've finally got my Euro blog up and running. Kept doing the usual thing that I guess a lot of us do in early January and putting it off. Have felt a bit lazy post-New Year, especially planning for an event in mid-summer when it is mid-winter here in Latvia.
Have been trying to apply for UEFA accreditation for the tournament but my FAME password hasn't been working and, thus far, my emails to UEFA in Zurich, asking them to rectify the situation, have gone unanswered. The deadline is Friday so it seems like time is against me. I have until mid-February to apply for England-only tickets through the English FA. Have been trying to wait until I know what the score is with UEFA.
At the moment it looks like I will be going to Ukraine with a group of friends from Norway, Estonia and the United States. My English mates are non-committal. I think a lot of them are starting to feel the pain of the UK's rather dire economic realities. Some others like Geordie Robin have grown a little tired of some of the more corporate aspects of these tournaments. Let's see how they feel later in the year when the press start hyping the Euros.
I am a big fan of Ukraine but not so Poland and, therefore, I think I will be happy to spend most of the championships in Ukraine. All of England's group games are in Ukraine as well as two quarter finals, a semi and the final in Kiev. I'd also rather hang out in places such as Lviv, Kyiv, Odessa and Yalta regardless of whether matches are being played there or not.
But what to do about the spelling of the Ukraine's two main cities? Kiev or Kyiv? Lviv or Lvov? I guess I will just use all four variations for now.