Days 109 – 111
Happy Russia Day!!
Day 109 found me living in my box, in the centre of Moscow and I have to say that the whole cube concept grew on me during my 3 day stay there; its clean, quiet and it is all you need. They have provided everyone with large locker space to stash Bergans or suitcases etc and and the place just works. I’m not sure if those sleeping in a box either side of me would say the same but hey…..life’s a bitch!
I was booked on the 14:00 train from Moscow to Volgograd, a journey just shy of 1000km and which takes 18 ½ hours. You have to book a sleeping compartment, which has 4 beds and I was sharing with a family of 3 (poor sods!). They were a really nice couple with a 6 year old daughter, who was as cute as you like and it made for a very easy journey. I watched a load of films which I had downloaded prior to the trip, one of which was ‘Enemy at the Gates’ about the battle of Stalingrad (the old name of the city I’m heading for), and focused on the role of a particular sniper during that battle. The guy was called Vassilli Zaitsev and he was that good that the Germans sent their top sniper from Berlin to get him….that plan slightly backfired when Zaitsev blew his head off!
Due to my limited intelligence and destruction of brain cells caused by the Russian beer, I’ve only just remembered an incident from the other night when I was out with my American friend ‘Cosmo’, touring the pubs in Moscow city centre. It was early morning and we had ‘had a few’; Cosmo (being American), started telling me, and all around, how many press-ups he could do…..so I said ‘I bet you can’t do 30’ ….which is like showing a red reg to a bull to our transatlantic cousins. Cue Cosmo banging out press-ups whilst I counted for him ‘1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, 5, 4 etc. Fair play to him he did nearly 300 before we got to 30, during which I all but wet myself, and then conceded that he was far superior and jolly well done……its strange what comes back to you through the haze!!
So I have arrived in Volgograd and spent the first day just touring the city in order to get orientated. The stadium is brand new and built specifically for the World Cup (they are still doing little bits of finishing work on some of the entrances, but its ready to rock), the fan zone is all sorted and ready for showing the opening game but I have to admit, that the pubs etc are really not ready for what is going to hit them. I spent a few hours talking to the owner of a bar where my host, Yuri, works as a DJ. I was telling them what football fans are like during the World Cup and that if they are prepared, they could make a stack of cash. I’m still not convinced they believed me but, if they adapt quickly they may do ok (I remember the shock the Germans had in 2006 when 120,000 England fans rocked up and they were not ready but Germans being Germans they soon got their shit together….it will be no where near those numbers here but there will still be enough).
Yesterday we had a day out at Yuri’s Dacha in the country…it was a bit weird to say the least. On arrival we were given jobs to do to get the place going and mine was to strim a usable area of the back garden, in order to ensure there were no tigers about! Yuri started welding the front gate, whilst his friends just stuck screw drivers into electrical sockets without a care in the world. We started to fill the ‘Swimming Pool’, from a garden hose and with water that had a slight brownie tinge to it?. A tree was chopped down to get the BBQ going and within 10 minutes was roaring away like a miniature Grenfell. We had a sauna in which Yuri proudly sat ‘tackle out’ whilst I carefully studied a particularly interesting wood knot in the wall next to me.
Despite the strangeness of it all it was a really good and relaxing day and I have to say a great thx to Yuri and friends for making me laugh!!
I’m looking forward to England fans appearing, so I can start getting the Buzz you only get at a World Cup. Not sure if I’ve mentioned how much I enjoy them???