Monday, June 11, 2012
The journey to Chernivitsi seems to go on forever. It goes without saying that we are the only football fans this far off piste. As well as feeling every bump and jolt of the minibus from Ivano Frankivsk to Chernivitsi , the road being engulfed in a US Midwest style thunderstorm and downpour, our transport also breaks down in the middle of nowhere with an oil leak.
It is definitely one of those afternoons when you ask yourself serious questions about what you are doing with your life. Shouldn’t I be settled down with a family watching this tournament on a big screen TV back home? What are we doing in this backwater of the former USSR in a minibus that is falling apart at the seams?
When we finally make it to Chernivitsi it rains like we are on the equator. The streets of the city are flowing with flood water. We taxi it to TIU Backpackers where Darlington boy Markus runs the city’s only hostel.
‘Welcome to the best city in all of Ukraine,’ he proudly tells us.
There is just enough time to get changed and to make it to a posh local restaurant called 'Kveento' for tonight’s double header matches of Ukraine v Sweden and England v France. I have got a ticket for this game burning in my pocket but sacrificed it for a week in western Ukraine. We are in Ukraine to enjoy the Euros but also to see plenty of the country as well. If it means sacrificing one match along the way then so be it.
England pull off a 1-1 draw and I manage to make a public spectacle of myself celebrating in the bar. During Ukraine’s 2-1 win with Sweden we bond with the locals and end the night in a local karaoke bar where a bottle of vodka costs five quid and the company is top draw. Earlier in the day I was questioning what the hell we are doing here. By 5am we are both congratulating each other on our wise decision to come to Chernivitsi.