After going home via the train, I went to bed thinking that I must explore Moscow more and decided to go on the train. It didn’t happen! When the alarm went off, the simple option of checking on using the Aeroflot app and getting a taxi to the airport was the only option.
Had I been to sleep? I am sure I had just closed my eyes.
Again, flying here is hassle free (apart from the misfortune yesterday) but unlike most UK airports in the height of summer, let alone a FIFA World Cup, everything is managed with brilliance.
I decided to sleep at the back of the aeroplane today, in seat 27F. I had actually fallen asleep within seconds of sitting in my seat when I was woken by a guy wearing an Iran shirt who had come to sit by me. Oh my – did he stink! I wondered if it was me at first, but it was for sure him.
He WhatsApp’d some Persian Princesses on his mobile telephone and then read an Arabic book about chess. I have met some interesting people on my travels but my short flight to Saransk was still my bedtime.
Saransk was in the low 30s. With deep blue skies, it was not as humid as Moscow. I really liked this place the moment I arrived last time. The simple shuttle bus dropped people off at the end of the long avenue to the stadium.
This was not the city centre, the whole area was new. Though people seemed to live here. I had to think, but today was Monday. Middle aged Russian housewives spending the afternoon in their best velvet tracksuits watching hairy Iranian men dressed in football tops walk down their street whilst sitting on the newly installed park benches.
Armed with my Leica, I tried to make the stadium look isolated. These stadia look so photogenic, it is such a shame that they are surrounded by security tents, broadcast compounds, media centres and the like!
After going through security, having the obligatory Chicken Cesar Salad and two bottles of orange juice for breakfast – later I would have the horrible looking but somehow tasty penne pasta with turkey, I called over one of the volunteers over to help me.
I was most intrigued about the tower in front of the stadium. I so wanted to know what CAPAHCK meant. Was it the name of a famous footballer? A famous Soviet astronaut?
The girl looked at me as though I was an idiot. C is S, A is A, P is R. A is A. H is… I knew where this was going.
It meant Saransk in Russian. Though it can be spelt in three other languages, four if you include English apparently. And when I commented that today was warm, the reply was come back in six months. Apparently is it minus 13 then!
Are Iranian women still banned from football in their home country? They used to be. I went with the attitude and filled up our stocks of Iranian Female Football Fans.
The game was dominated by the weak referee. Video replays delaying things and making a mockery of the beautiful game. Panama play rough, Iran play to the limits, trying to con the referee to get people sent off.
This blog has never been like a newspaper report, so it won’t be. Too much happened, too much controversy, too much play acting, too much Ronaldo.
Portugal and Iran drew 1-1. Portugal progress, Iran go home.
The first proper and meaningful dejection picture of the tournament.
Only one team lifts the trophy, the other 31 at some point will leave the field dejected. This was a decent way to start.
Then it was back to Saransk airport. Being greeted by the whitest people on the planet, but this time in the mix was a check in girl who had been under the sun-bed for a month.
Regretfully I did not take my camera out and photograph Iranian girls playing football with an Adidas ball with a man from China and a guy from Mexico in goal.
I was still ploughing my way through my images and still thinking of ways to improve our syndication system.
I can not be peaking too early on in the tournament! Though today was a day to celebrate. Paid a mere £292 for a 90 minute flight back to Moscow for the days ahead. We now have a full schedule. I dread to add up the final figure.
Perhaps the Iranian girl playing football could have helped pay for our travels.
Note to self : Now the travel has finally been done, there are no excuses not to keep looking and documenting everything I see everywhere I go.
Sitting on the airport floor I booked my next round games – In Sochi I am doing Uruguay v Portugal and in Moscow, Spain v Russia. Some photographers go home this week!
It is starting to go fast and pick up pace. Tiredness is easing.