Thursday, 23 April 2015

Dnipro v Brugge 23.4.2015 (Kiev - Europa Cup 1/4 final)

We were over in Ukraine for a mates wedding. The Ukraine I have to say is one of my favourite countries, everybody is so so friendly. When we last went out the exchange rate was 12UAH to the £, due to the ongoing conflict and economic problems we were now getting 33UAH to the £, so everything was incredibly cheap. We found out that Dnipro would be playing in Kiev the day we arrived, which was a real bonus. So a few facebook messages and we had arranged to meet our Dnipro mates late on in the evening for the football. Kick off was not until 10pm so we met up with our mate, who was not only getting married on the Saturday but has his birthday on St Georges day. We had soon checked into our Hotel right by Independence square. After checking in we went for a walk and it was very sobering. Last time it had been a fans park, today its a shrine to those murdered in the recent troubles.

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It was very moving, and a stark reminder of how quickly things can change.  Basically every country has stood aside and let Russia walk all over Ukraine.  A sorry state of affairs.  Which country will Putin want next?

The big building in the background below was our hotel.  Very grand in its day but needing a little love and attention today.


So after a nice meal and a few beer we headed over to the Olympic stadium. We met our mates and they insisted on buying the match tickets for us.  They actually cost 10 UAH which works out at 28p!  Dnipro is about a 6 hour road trip away and they guessed that 5/6,000 would be up for the game.  Adding in a few locals and about 50 Brugge fans (was expecting more) and the crowd was just over 16,000







Rob wearing the colours and drinking beer in the ground!  AMF!



So with Dnipro winning, its was time to celebrate back in the pub - Dnipro are now in the Europa League Semi Finals for the first time in there history. They won the game 1-0 with an 82nd minute deflected goal but who cares!  So it was a few quick beers before there designated driver insisted they went as it was by now 1.30am so they would get home about 7am!


At the game we went in with the fans that had travelled up from Dnipro.  Here are a few videos

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So back to the hotel and a final drink with the Groom/Birthday boy!  A quick beer was not however a quick beer!  

I have to confess after getting to bed quite quite late (think it was about 4am), I had felt better. Nelson and Yana had kindly sorted out a trip to Chernobyl for us.  After visiting the Chernobyl museum on our last visit to Kiev it was also somewhere I had want to go.


So we had to sign that we wouldn't drink any well water etc etc and we were soon on our way for the 1 3/4 hour drive to the 30km exclusion zone. I was amazed at how close we were to everything, yes its been decontaminated, but......................


They are building a new protective dome, its still too dangerous to work above the reactor so its built just to one side and will be moved on rails into place.  The workers do 3 days on and 4 days off, they have to move outside the 30km zone during rest days.
Amazing Close to the ruined reactor!  Apparently it was safe to be this close



We then moved on to Chernobyl city, once inhabited by 50,000 people.  It was abandoned and remains pretty much intact.  It was eerie as no other tour parties about as there was some official visit as it was the day before the 29th anniversary of the disaster.


























































An amazing day and to finish it off we all had to pass through body scans to make sure all well below the safe radioactive levels before we could leave.  This happened at both the 10km and the 30km checkpoints.


So it was time to leave Kiev and head to Chernihiv, about 2 hours north of Kiev, towards the Belarussian boarder. Our minibus gradually got slower and slower and 70kms away from our destination conked out!  Our driver flagged down a coach and it stopped and agreed to take us the rest of the journey!  It was full of school kids returning from a day trip to Kiev and the teachers arranged them 3 to 2 seats and soon they had 18 English tourists on board!  Fantastic hospitality, not sure this would happen here.
We finally arrive and check into the 2nd hotel called the Hotel Ukraine!  No wander we were all getting confused!  This one was very very nice indeed.

The big day arrives







Steve and Yana both looked amazing, what a fantastic day





Following the official ceremony it was time for the meal, well it is so much more than just a meal.  Its just a massive continuation of the ceremony!  The beer/vodka flowed too easily, but what a cracking party.  We did go home at some point I am told!











Sunday was a day to recover!  I did not surface until well after midday! Later in the afternoon it was time to have a look around Chernihiv.  


Pushkin Statue


So once again massive congratulations to Steve and Yana and thank you for a brilliant time.  I cant wait to go back to the Ukraine!  Europa Cup Semi Final Anyone????