I am not working as PR for President Putin but the kind lady in the 24 hours Pharmacy helped me. At least it is 24hr outlet, unlike the 24 hr restaurant in the hotel which shuts at 11pm and the 24 hr room service that does not cook food between 2am and 6am. The Pharmacy lady ‘giving’ me the medicine I need and commenting that as I have glaucoma too, she said it was unfair that diplomatic issues meant patients could not have medicine and gave me eye drops for free!
After two days rest, too much rest, it was not until 3am I got to sleep, only to get up at 4.30am.
In hindsight I end up kicking myself, whilst being bussed to the aeroplane we passed a Russian aviation graveyard. I counted 31 planes then lost count as my eyes wandered to the amount of engines and junk on a nearby field. I so regret not taking pictures sometimes.
Today I was on S7 Airlines again and arrived in Kazan at 0830h. Who should walk out of the arrivals area first, but Miki. She had a bad cough and was tired too. I then waited for Chris and we took a battered taxi whose trunk full of our camera gear was easily worth the value of the car.
Putting my camera gear in one of the media lockers, I then had a nice four hour supplementary sleep on one of the media couches. As did Chris. I have no idea where Miki went, though we both ended up behind the goal that Brazil were attacking in the first half.
There were very few Belgian fans. Far more South Americans are here than Europeans – from Peru, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Panama, Mexico and Uruguay. Have they been the subject to scare stories or does their culture just revolve around football more? Apart from Panama, the latter is most certainly the case.
More problems, my wide angle lens is scratched. Light flaring where it shouldn’t when I this this picture of the teams lining up.
Another game where by although I am at a World Cup game and the game has been exciting, the amount of material I have got is worrying me. If I was shooting for a football club and its requirements for match-day programme, social media etc, I would be severely questioning what I had been doing for 90 minutes. Lots of possession play, no mad tackling fo the fear of being carded and missing the semi final.
But back to the positivity. Kevin DB, who I’m used to shooting at Manchester City never celebrates like this! He went crazy on the final whistle, Belgium winning 1-2. And quite right too!
My work was not done. My mate Chadli fom West Brom giving the fans a big thumbs up, whilst so called supporters of his own club slaughter him for being injured during most of last season on social media. Why could he not play like that for us last season? they ask.
And so to another exit. This time Brazil. Only one team wins the World Cup. 31 go home disappointed.
Brazil have not impressed and have offered very little.
They deserve to go home.
Then I had to experience the hell-hole of Kazan airport. That was after getting a taxi from the stadium – taxi drivers putting World Cup taxes on their fares. Being offered 3000 RUB when you know you can get one for 600 RUB is a game of will and patience. Although grateful for the mass of supplementary flights, the airport could not cope with them. Five flights taking off within 15 minutes at 3am does not make the airport a chilled out place. I like witnessing cultural differences. People from Japan and Argentina are polite and queue. Brazilians push in. Myself, some Swiss people from FIFA and a handful of Belgians, just let the Brazilians get on with it, doing what they are best at – pushing in.
We had the last laugh though, being bussed to the aircraft, those who get on last, or at least position themselves by the door, get off first and thus, get to get on the aeroplane first!
I did have a business class seat for the next two flights but the airline had changed the aircraft and under the ‘rules’ I could change seats. Instead of an Airbus, we got a huge 767 used for transatlantic flights. I only lost £8 a flight and to be honest, when I shut my eyes, the next thing I knew was that I had arrived in Moscow.
What does one do at 8am? Bump in to fellow photographers in one of the airport restaurants and have a spaghetti bolognese for breakfast. Then go to my gate, only to find the gate has been changed. I am one of the last to know. At this stage of the tournament you see many fans sporting many colours. Many of them over enthusiastic on how their country would do and purchasing tickets in advance for such games when in fact that had been knocked out earlier in the competition. A few Mexicans and Argentinians who had not expected Croatia to take their place, like me, the last to go through the final security check before being allowed to board the plane.
Though lucky for us, we were being shipped to our aeroplane via yet another bus. Too many aeroplanes at the airport to park up resulted in our bird parked alongside many other aircraft from Aeroflot and Ural Airways.
Last on the bus, means first off. I was fast asleep before many had even climbed the aircraft steps.