Wednesday 5th September
Kev and Fiona picked me up on the way to Gatwick for our 10.30am Air Moldova flight to Chisinau (via Frankfurt). With the stop off, the 1 hour delay to our flight from Gatwick and the 2 hour time difference we didnt arrive until just after 6pm local time.
We jumped in a taxi and 10 minutes later we arrived at our hotel, Hotel Vila Iris. A quick change and time for some food and drink. The bar/restaurant next to the Hotel was called the Shalom and we settled down for our first large beer and the exhorbiant price of 60p! We were now starving so move on to the next place, Andys Pizzas, a chain in Chisinau, but they do all types of food and we had the platter of mixed potatoes, basically any typeof fried potatoe and various other courses. I think it cost nearly £3 each for the meal and several beers!
Thursday 6th September
So it was a late breakfast at 9.30am and by 11am we were ready to stroll into the city centre. We knew the ground was close by so started walking in that direction.
The area around our hotel and confirmation we are in Moldova - Phewwwwww
One of the many churches we walked passed.
We continued on the long hike into town and by now it was 34C, so we had to take shelter at every opportunity!
Next up was the posh and expensive Rendevous bar, beer was over a £1 a bottle, so just a swift one and then on to a more reasonably priced bar! Its amazing how you soon forget the stupid prices we pay at home and switch to local expectations of prices!
We met up with Jimmy who we had been out in the Ukraine with and being a Villa fan he had brought along his blue nose mate Ed!
We spent the evening/night/early morning on a pub crawl. The cocktails were £2.50 but it was good to see that Moldovan Health and Safety is taken seriously, one of the toilets warned against sticking fingers in sockets whilst sitting down on the toilet - point noted. By now we had been joined by Nelson, Dogsy and Mike from Ashford who arrived by train from Odessa.
Friday 7th September - match day
Above are pictures of the central library in Chisinau which we passed on the long walk to the hotel to collect our match tickets.
After collecting our ticket we kept bumping into the usual faces. Michael joined us for the day and the bar crawl started. Bumped into Boro Mick who still denies finding an undergound city, and Batty from Doncaster. We had a beer with Phil, Jay and the pocket rocket, fellow Brighton fans who had got the train from Bucharest with there Herne Bay mates. Phil looked a little hungover!
We arrived at the ground about 9pm, a bit later than planned and despite a crowd of only about 11k, there was a massive queue to get in, as yes, believe it or not just one entrance to the ground. We joined the scrum and about 20 minutes later had squeezed our way to the front. This dissorganisation and over the top police in full riot gear summed up the next 2 hours. We had to get to the away end via a narrow walkway at the back of the stand, it was congested with Police and the lighting would have been improved by a small candle! We eventually got to the away section and I think that the 980+ England fans were nearly outnumbered by Police!
The home made flag confirms this is a Brazil 2014 qualifier, good to know!
The players "celebrate" goal 4 or was it 5, as the Police continue to stare at shoes/boots and shuffle feet as they are bored as have nothing to do, despite the clowns in charge still prancing around as if still expecting world war 3!
So job done and time to return to the bar as the match finished 5-0 and to be honest it could have been more as Moldova lived up to there FIFA ranking of 144.
Now 3 of us had to be up early as on the 6.30am flight back to Gatwick (via Frankfurt). We had a taxi booked for 5am, so with the alarm set for 4.30am (as needed to pay the hotel bill as well)we sensibly ploughed on with the ale and eventually got back to the hotal at 3.45am. Luckily Fiona banged on my door at 4.35am as I had switched off my alarm! It was a real struggle to the airport and when I finally got home to West Hoathly around 11am I was soon nodding off!!
So now its Ukraine at home on Tuesday night then in 5 weeks its off to Poland!
H v Ukraine Tuesday 11.9.2012
A half empty stadium, and a 1-1 draw with a late Lampard penalty rescuing a point before Gerrard got red carded!