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Euro blog: Sleeping in the Sanitarium

Fans on the sleeper train to Donetsk ahead of England's clash with Ukraine Photo: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire.

This was a day of stark contrasts. The new Ukraine on display in central Donetsk: carefully tended public gardens, modern cafes with free wi fi, good local beers (as well as rubbish international brands too), lovely Ukrainian food (try the salads, the fish and the cheese ball desserts); and the old Ukraine found at midnight in the Roscha Sanitarium, Kharkiv: a long wait in a shabby reception till they could find anyone to help, crumbling buildings, and a room with brown wallpaper embossed with gold roses and twin beds with red hearts on the sheets and "I love you" written on the pillows! We don't know where we are or if there is anyone else here. Apparently there are 41 others distributed randomly around the huge complex of individual 'wards' but we have seen no one! Spooky! Are we the only survivors???

Back to the new. Donetsk really is nice. Not a lot to do but good to wander around and take in the scenery. When I think back to my visits to Ukraine in the early 90's it is amazing and fantastic how much things have changed. Then, shops were empty, cafes grubby and food scarce and pretty poor. It isn't a western city yet but it's getting there! And wouldn't it be great if we had free wi fi in English cities! By the by, apparently Donetsk was officially recognised as the greenest industrial city in the world by the UN.

And finally the old. At last we have found someone at the sanitarium and it is the Chief Assistant Doctor. He speaks no English but I can just about translate as he talks us through the healing powers of the 300 year old oak we are sitting under. Stand under it with happy thoughts in your head and your arms outstretched and you will be healed of pain in your knees if you face one way and in your head if you face the other. Had this helped the missing 41 we ask? No answer. But he does go on to say (after showing us an owls nest) that several fans had left the sanitarium early to find "better" accommodation in town. They complained that there was no Internet. Sure there is no Internet, he shrugs, but we have 300 year oaks. Who's to say he isn't right?

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