Daily Archives: June 13, 2012

12 06 2012 Euro 2012 Back to Kharkiv

We now seem to be getting into a rhythm – not a 4 hour sleep a day rhythm that I have had to endure covering some tournaments, but in fact quite a nice stress free rhythm.

Game – travel adventure – game – travel adventure (repeat until bored)

Another bad bad nights sleep. This time I was bitten on the thumb. Thumb itches are horrible! Especially when they swell up. The result is very little sleep.

Other photographers are having very little sleep also – especially Jason in Poland. Facebook and Skype mean we can all communicate, share pictures and keep in touch with one another. I don’t really do Twitter, I don’t get that nonsense. I have tried – but just don’t get it.

To quote Jason.. “Any one in Poland don’t drink MIKE TYSON BLACK POWER energy drink! washed down at 1am at services last night as I was fading, got back to my hotel at 2am was wide awake to 5am and up a 730am having barely slept. Mental stuff, makes red bull feel like camomile tea”

Once I had nodded off and tried to take advantage of a nice lie in, calls, text messages, Facebook alerts and Viber messages from friends and colleagues   cut short my much-needed sleep. The messages were lovely and kind… all telling me about my France v England publications in the English press including the front of the Daily Telegraph and back of the Daily Mail.

At least I had no phone calls. Poland is in the EU, Ukraine is not. That means no rules and regulations – so phone tariffs have been hiked up. At £8 a minute I would soon go bankrupt, so Viber rules here!

With free open wi-fi in almost every hotel, restaurant and shop there is no need to make a GSM call.

Happy Days.

So back to Kharkiv we go, leaving the hot-pot of Donetsk behind. I love the heat, I love the summer (except anything to do with hay fever) – but even for me, Donetsk is a HOT place.

Perhaps the people of Donetsk like it so much, they don’t want you to leave. It is the only city that I can think of that the more you get away from it the more road signs you see mentioning it!

As Kiev and Kharkiv get closer, the road signs still mention Donetsk with a U-Turn symbol!

The epic road journey just seemed like a regular road journey this time. Familiarity crushing the wow-ness of it all. I am glad I only have to drive it only one more time – others have to do it a few more times where as I’m breaking the monotony and am off to Kiev again very soon.

Not that it is getting boring but driving back and forth in between the same cities for over a week is something that people don’t think of.

I prefer more of a tour than a back and forth adventure.

Upon finding a 24 hr restaurant where we encounter more Ukrainian women wearing cocktail dresses, short skirts and high heels we started to do a bit of people watching as we got bored with watching the TV running replays and replays and replays of Poland and Russia fans fighting ahead of their Group A game.

At this point you probably think we were looking at the women.

But no.

You won’t find many Ukraine men with long hair – that’s for sure. As the females who dress up to the hilt, the men go for trainers, usually Adidas, with ankle socks – usually grey or black.

Shiny 1980’s football shorts are the accompanied by short sleeve t-shirts with the important man bag with the strap hung over a shoulder and hanging diagonally over the waist.

I have yet to see a man bag shop but it must be big business here.

There was one man who was wining and dining a blonde girl in a skimpy black dress. As the Poland v Russia game got more intense, so did he.. moving around to sit beside his dinner date – however we had him sussed as he had only moved around so that he could watch the football!

Our food was not what we ordered. Not that we kicked off or complained. We got chatting to one of the waiters. His English was just about understandable but he told us as it was a 24h restaurant he and his colleagues work for 24 hours – then have two days to sleep!

I will have a Chicken-Kiev in Kiev. A Chicken-Kharkiv does not seem right.

Back in Kharkiv I now understood what this other place Kharkov was – it’s the Russian spelling.

Apologies, but I had no idea!

Russia is only 25 miles away. We see lots of Russian cars here and can spot the Russians a mile off. The men wear jeans and have no man bags and the girls wear pyjama type teddy bead fluffy tracksuit bottoms and often have their hair up instead of the Ukraine way of having it down.

The cars they drive are big four by four vehicles with the Ukrainian neighbours and indeed us in almost awe.

The evening meal – only food of the day, was ended by the now customary football tax being added to the bill.

Back to the football, the owner of the new place of residence we are staying in seems stressed and has obviously not had enough time to fill in his Euro 2012 wall planner.


He simply did not understand one word of English. We do not yet know one work of Russian – or the Ukraine dialect of the language. But I could see that he had a less busy life when Euro 2012 was not in town!

With two impressive properties being built at the bottom of his garden we were in a very affluent area of town. Although I enjoyed our last stay in Kharkiv, it is good to always have change and stay in different locations.

After checking my other photographers fine work and going through Poland v Russia pictures, football photographers taking more pictures of riot police than action pictures, it is time for sleep.

No Mike Tyson Black Power drink – just the lush Ukraine juices I keep buying. Yesterday was banana and strawberry. Today is a litre of pineapple, banana and orange.