Daily Archives: June 22, 2012

22 06 2012 Euro 2012 Exploring the Azov

I didn’t really want to come here. Of course I had to. It is what pays the bills. It is my job. Lots of people in all walks of life don’t want to go to work every day when they wake up though.

Today I am lucky, the view from my hotel window is immense! What more could I ask for but a near perfect view of such an amazing stadium.

I must do more of these.

We are all knackered. Perhaps there is a virus going around. All we want to do is sleep at the moment!

The most annoying thing however is the BBC. It keeps coming back to haunt us.

“Be careful” – say the people back home. It is nice for people to care, but after 12 times, from 12 different people, your patience gets weaker. It’s actually quite fun to be in a triangle of people in the Ukraine, Poland and the UK with the people in the UK getting a battering on their utterly wrong assumptions of what it is like here.

The BBC transmitted the documentary portraying the Ukraine as a horrible place to go. Quite honestly we have not encountered anything (apart from the knife throwing man).

I have spoken to England fans who wore England shirts in the opposition end and who got congratulated by the seemingly ‘evil’ Police when they left the stadium victorious!

English fans were hounded by Ukrainian fans wanting to have their pictures taken with them.

Big, powerful Ukraine men are soft as pansies! They almost have a drive inside them to make your stay enjoyable. The women don’t smile but everyone here is so nice. The Ukraine way of life is slow. Time does not matter – unless you are on the roads!

When I go to Japan I always become extra tidy. Even more organised. Here, there is no rush. Perhaps we have all become Ukraine – slow but content and happy.

Now if the BBC had of done a documentary about the Ukrainian mosquitos biting you all the time then yes, this is true as it is what we have seen on a daily basis.

Not fed up or bored with Donetsk, we have the confidence now of just going to drive anywhere!

Looking at maps, there was only one place to go. The Sea of Azov.


We can’t even comprehend Russian or Ukrainian. We can’t even tell the difference if the truth be known. The maps we have are utterly useless to us!

Bring on the technology!

Not wanting to this blog to be a blog like the Gadget Show, I must say thank you to the people who made this http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/navv-globetrotter/id498499399?mt=8 

Downloaded to my iPhone, it has been a Godsend. I never use these things at home. I never really use them abroad. Just here they are cherished! I can see why the likes of Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman spend months planning trips around the world. I can drive to Paris and Rome with my eyes closed (well not literally!). Take the wrong road here, and you are screwed! Thankfully we have been OK and I do not think we have taken one wrong road.

With Carl’s TomTom also up and running, we headed to the South – two devices sending us into the unknown.


More amazing sites and monuments on the way that sadly we have become too familiar with.

The landscape so different from the middle of the country. Nice buildings, better crops and indeed a better road!

People still STARING at the Skoda…


..its far much luxurious than a Lada.


We want to have a day off. A REAL day off. No cameras, no nothing. But it is impossible. Everywhere there are pictures to be taken. We all dash out of the car when we see things like this!

I could do a book on the road signs alone!

In true Judith Chalmers speak… We headed to the Southern city of Berdyansk. Situated on the North coast of the Azov, it is a popular destination for the Ukrainians.


something for all the family…


A photojournalist’s dream… for picture-taking I could have spent days here!

The Azov is described as the Red Rivera, I think we had the wrong place!

We must have. I think that must be more West in Odessa. Sadly that is 500 KM away.

A picture says a thousand words.. (so they say)


This picture shows sunshine, a deserted beach – almost paradise to some.

What my photography does not show is the litter on the beach. The amount of dead fish is especially horrible.

And this was the nice part!

Back at the hotel, I waited 45 minutes for the staff  to bring me a room service menu. They refused to tell me over the telephone what was on the menu and lost in translation I hope, it was “forbidden” for me to go down to reception and look for myself.

This hotel has seemingly changed during Euro 2012. I assume that is it because it serves as a team hotel too and I guess the management of the international teams staying here want privacy for the players – which is why it is £6900 a night on a match day! Hence my epic 3am trip to Kiev on Saturday as funds do not allow such expensive hotel stays!

The restaurants are no longer 24 hours. The sauna will not restart until September… I could go on!

I walk to the restaurant which is ‘open’ – ie staff there, but they are ‘closed’ and do not serve food, yet do take orders for room service and are sorry that there is no menu in the room.

I go back to my room and I eventually have a Chicken Cesar salad. The posh hotels just don’t do it here I have decided. I prefer sleeping on floors in BAD hotels and eating out than sampling the finer delights of life which on paper look great but quite often don’t materialise to be what I once hoped!


Carl’s ‘dingy’ apartment for the month become appealing again.

My dark oak skirting board, magnolia walls and fine art work do not have the same feel to the graffiti laden walls of the staircase to number 48.


However, I MUST enjoy the luxury. My trip has been a mixture of sleeping on floors and going in expensive hotels. Quite a lot of photographers have not come here. It is quite simply too expensive. Although we mock Carl for his fine apartment, we are all too aware on the price his company paid and how much it would cost for a month in a seemingly ‘normal’ hotel.

I only have luxury for two more nights.

Then I am ‘housing’ some people in Kiev next week.

Although rivals we all look after each other.

Offices in the UK unaware of  it all and I guess bosses would freak out if they knew rival photographers staying together.