Sunday Morning 24th (June)
Yesterday after settling into our hotel rooms, we hopped into a taxi and went to visit the fan zone. In Kiev there is a whole road dedicated to the football, with multiple big screens, food stalls, entertainment and rows of beer tents. Every table was packed with football fans, mostly Ukrainians, Germans, Italians and English. However, there was the odd Polish, French and Swedish fan dotted around. Lots of the English fans were congregating at the Swedish bar. Underneath a rather large Sweden football shirt were groups of men drinking. There was always going to be a bit of banter; at one point they all stood up, jumped around and started singing “We’re not going home, we’re not going home” while pointing at the Sweden shirt.
It was nice enough to sit outside a restaurant, so we sat under a sun umbrella and looked at the menus provided. Here is where the problem of not speaking a word of Russian began! The waitress, who wasn’t the best English speaker, but really gave it her best shot, suggested that my Dad and I have a traditional Ukrainian drink. Being the adventurous types, we decided it was a good idea. We thought we were getting an interesting alcoholic fruit cocktail with horseradish – but it came out in a shot glass. I can only suggest that it should be in a car battery and not in our stomachs. We realised at that point we should probably stick to what we know best and that is beer. Which is quite nice, and for less than £2 a pint, we can’t really complain.
The menus are in English but even then the translation of the food is still the same in Russian. For example, Valeniks. There were different choices of accompaniments to “Valeniks” - meat, cheese or cherries. Not really sure what type of food can go with all those options! However, what came out of the kitchen looked like ravioli. Turns out too - “crackling” isn’t pork scratchings, it’s just pork fat that hasn’t been cooked long enough to crack.
Today’s the big day, England vs Italy. Will we see the three lions win or will we see Italy beat us again in a competition? I just hope it doesn’t go down to penalties. We’ve had a late breakfast of “Useful salad” (which we think meant “healthy salad”) – egg and lettuce followed by apple pancakes. Now off into the centre.