Donetsk and Kiev
Donetsk and Kiev
At around 5 am I was roused from a deep sleep. I don't think I'd moved position since I switched my bedside light at 10 pm.
When I had worked out where I was I answered the unfamiliar ring tone coming from my local mobile. It was Rav with great news.
The news and programme editors of Daybreak back in London had decided that we were not needed for this morning's programme.
Very happily I switched off my alarm that was just about to go off and rolled back for another three hours solid uninterrupted sleep.
For the three of us it was like being reborn. We felt refreshed and reinvigorated.
It looked like a nice easy stress free day, just a flight to Kiev in the late afternoon.
Having the small hire car meant that we needed another vehicle to transport our luggage to the airport. So we asked for something big enough to take our ten bags. Once more the driver was a little bit confused when we put all the bags and boxes on board and then jumped into a car.
|Just for our bags and kit!|
The wheels started to come off the rails a little when we arrived at the airport.
As now knowledgeable and well versed in travelling from Donetsk to Kiev we went straight to the old terminal and heaved our kit out of the hire car and up the steps.
Tiffany went in first and was told that the flights now left from the new terminal.
|Nor sure if the policeman would have helped me carry the boxes!|
When we got there we saw a sign on the door.
|Might have been better to put this at the old terminal|
At least this building was air conditioned which helped cool down our sweaty bodies and the check in procedure was fairly efficient. We only had to put each bit the kit on to the scales twice to be weighed and tagged.
We did encounter a bit of fuss at the security area.
Kevin Miles from the England Fans Federation and his little entourage were on the same flight. They were in the security line just in front of us.
One of the ladies, who is diabetic had a pack with insulin syringes in her carry on bag. Like us they had done quite a few flights following the tournament. She had not encountered any issues at any of the other airport security checks.
She did have a letter from her doctor to say that she needed the insulin. However, because she'd not been asked for it anywhere else it was now packed in her hold bag which was now on its way to the aircraft.
On this occasion the eagle eyed boys and girls with their shiny new x ray kit, hand held and body scanners spotted the sealed boxes.
There was no way that they were going to let them go through. There was no rudeness or disrespect, just a very firm immovable polite refusal.
Rav had a word with the security lady who spoke perfect English. She was pleasant and well meaning yet as immovable as her stature implied.
Ever resourceful and connected Kevin got straight on to the phone to the British Embassy to see if they could help.
Someone from there spoke at great length with the head of security from the airport. At the end of that conversation it was quite clear that rules were rules and there could be no deviating from them. They were quite clear and unbending that if anything like the syringes were found with no official medical documentation they could not be taken on to the aircraft.
However, what would happen if they were carefully concealed in a person's hand luggage and were not spotted by security?
It was then suggested by the lovely but, never the less slightly intimidating security lady, that Kevin's friend might want to take her box of insulin, put it back in her bag, possibly right at the bottom and join the end of the security line.
The next time we saw them was when we were waiting to collect our bags and kit in Kiev.
It was after, or in fact during the wait at the domestic baggage belt that the hiccups in the plan started again.Rav had gone to get the hire car in the hope to speed our departure from the airport whilst Tiffany and I loaded the gear onto trolleys.
Rav encountered the same problem that we had in Donetsk. The car was too small for us and the kit.
There was no Maria to let loose on the staff from Avis this time but, Rav and learnt well from the expert and in no time had persuaded them that they should come up with the sort of car that we needed and had in fact ordered.
One was found. After a bit of a wait Rav appeared at the terminal in a big black Mitsubishi four wheel drive tank.
The one thing that Rav's powers of persuasion had not managed to achieve was getting a sat' nav' for the car.
So, with me driving and Rav trying to navigate using a combination of a map which was only in Cyrillic script, a very dodgy Internet modem signal and an equally unreliable Blackberry map we set off towards our hotel which we knew was not anywhere near the city centre.
|It's all Cyrillic to Rav..|
|..so, let's try technology|
Using a combination of skill, judgement, luck and following the setting sun we ended up at our hotel after only a couple of minor detours around the grim, grey, soviet style housing blocks in the rather less affluent areas of the city.
We had been warned by a few fans that had been going to stay at the Ramada Encore that it was not quite finished and not exactly located for a quick wander to anywhere never mind the city centre.
The huge smoked glass towered above everything that was nothing all around the motorway junction.
The words of caution from the fans who had just turned around and looked for somewhere else to say were spot on.
|Part hotel part building site..|
|..it's going to be the hotel's business centre|
I had the choice of almost all the spaces in the vast multi-storey car park or any of the spaces out front. After carefully choosing we unloaded the car and asked for a porter to help with the bags.
|The deserted multi storey car park|
|The car park at the front of the hotel|
There was no one apart from two big necked, surly looking security men who showed as much intention of helping as giving up steroids.
There was a similar lack of baggage trolleys.
When we were checking in one of the reception staff offered to help. It was the first time this trip where a tip had actually been earned. Between us we manhandled the eight bags and boxes from the front of the hotel up to my room.
|The city? way in the distance|
We went straight for dinner. A number of the dishes on the menu were unavailable.
|Not sure if the dinning room is finished yet|
Then my personal stress ramped up as a result of a text and phone call from my wife.
Having been away from home for a while Rav and I had organised to get some flowers sent to our wives.
The flowers had been delivered but, in my case the delivery man had decided to leave them in the garage. In the process he had managed to open but not close the door.
My wife had come home, not to a lovely bouquet of flowers but, a gaping garage door hanging off it's runners at a weird angle.
There was the potential for a lot of things to be simply lifted out of the garage without any trouble.
My gesture had somewhat backfired. Rather than having a happy and pleased wife I know had one that was perfectly understandably angry and worried about the security of the contents of the garage.
|Picture my wife sent me of the gaping garage door|
I came to my at around 11 pm hoping for about 5 hours sleep.
Kiev was having a bit of a heat wave and I was feeling it in my room. The air conditioning was not working.
I thought about calling reception to try and get it sorted but, given how things had gone so far I decided to see if I could cope without the disruption of someone coming to the room to check it out and then a possible relocation to another room when I had unpacked all my stuff.
I did manage to just about get to sleep when a rather loud American in one of the rooms next to me decided that he should call home and had a long reverberating conversation which kept me awake for at least another hour or so.
Just to complete my discomfort somebody in the room above started to do some sort to dance practice, at least that is what it sounded like, on the laminate flooring above my head.
To say that I was not a happy bunny would be putting it mildly.