"Look, write that we are walking on air!" - Impressions of foreign fans about Ukraine and Euro

Taras Vashchuk, specially for "Zamok" from Lviv, author's photo  28 June 2012 13:14  69115555 016036
"Look, write that we are walking on air!" - Impressions of foreign fans about Ukraine and Euro

All day on June 17, spent by the author among foreign fans in Lviv and at the stadium "Arena-Lviv" (where our "Hoverla" will play too), was without exaggeration one of the most striking pages in his life. Everything reminded some carnival in Rio: before the last game Lviv just lived through the Euro.

I managed to chat with a large number of foreigners, starting from fans and finishing with operators, technicians and volunteers. Their opinions, stories and experiences are different. Though there is one common opinion: Euro 2012 is a very cool football feast, for which Ukraine, Poland and the UEFA to be commended. The majority of the stereotypes and "horror stories" about us are nonsense.

"It was scary to go to Ukraine, especially to the Eastern part"

First I started talking to the fans from Denmark. I want to note that they, together with the Dutch and the Portuguese, are mostly very open and simple. But among the Germans I saw a lot of stiffness, which did not disappear even when they were pretty drunk ...

"We decided not to go to Kharkov for the first match - electrician Christian (far left on the picture) starts a conversation. - Then we regretted. And not just because our team beat Holland! We had planned to visit only two matches in Lviv. Therefore, we took a flight to Warsaw and straight ahead via Internet rented a car in the Polish capital. If we had immediately realized that the firm had offices in various regions of Ukraine for the same prices and with the same level of service and assurance, we would have flown straight to Kharkov. We would have attended the game and got to Lviv on our own... "

"We find it ridiculous now – says the owner of a small construction company, Henrik (Nielsen). Besides, we had heard a lot of negative things about Ukraine, Eastern in particular. So we decided that we would support our players, but at the stadium in Lviv. But many Danes still went to Kharkov and got a pleasant experience. Although it is said that Lviv is brighter and people are friendlier and speak English better ".

Spent ... even less than expected

"Your food is delicious. And national cuisine is very interesting: here in clay pots you serve yummy things! - says Christian, one of the fans. – We still remember various foods made of potato (dumplings, potato pancakes, zrazy). Krovyanka (blood-based sausage) with buckwheat – we have never tried any of these products – it is delicious. But it takes a long time to serve - sometimes we had to wait up to an hour!"
Among other disadvantages is the language barrier, which affected our renting an apartment in Lvov, which had been found on the Internet.
One of the fans shakes his head sadly: "We wanted to find a comfortable accommodation close to the center and fan zone, because we really thought that you actually have thieves everywhere, and in cheap hotels there are cockroaches and broken beds. So we had found a cozy one-bedroom apartment, which cost us ... 6000 hryvnia for 7 days. The price in the booklet was two times lower - just somewhere in the bottom of the page it was noted that on the days of Euro matches it will be significantly higher. In total, they say that they had planned to spend around 6-7 thousand hryvnia of "pocket money". But it turned out to be far less - 4-5 thousand.

Ukrainians get tickets from Europeans for half price

However, if Euro has already ended for the Danes, German fans are just beginning to enjoy the competition, because their team is confidently heading to the next stages. Among the fans people over 40 dominate. I bought the ticket for a game from one of such fans. I bargained it for almost half the price, although the German was frowning, saying that it was a good sector, and the starting price was 70 euros. In general, from what I saw and heard, Germans sold up to a hundred of tickets on the day of the match. When I asked how come they had so many extra tickets, they strictly replied: “Acquaintances got their plans changed”.

German girl-fans are more willing to talk about it. I spoke with one of them, a girl about 25 years old. I was surprised that she had a brilliant US accent. Whitney says that she has been living in Germany for only 3 years - she moved from the U.S. to her German boyfriend. "We did not face any difficulties! We booked a good hotel here, relatively inexpensive - 800 hryvnia per room. The same was in Kharkiv. By the way, we visited our fellow Germans staying in the hostel for fans – their accommodation is also quite good and very cheap - 20 euros per room on common days and 60 - on match days. Your service is also on a high level, cuisine is tasty. But the biggest surprise is very friendly people. Few people speak English, but they try to compensate with friendliness and a desire to help. "
A volunteer from Moscow Maxim also admits our friendliness. He stands and helps at the entrance to the fan zone: "We have a lot of stereotypes about Western Ukraine. But young people do not believe in them. And you should not believe that the Russians are dark and evil. We’ll prove this at the Olympics in Sochi in 2014 and at the World Cup in 2018! "

Europeans have praised our ... roads

On the way to the stadium I meet more and more Poles. Their team has already got the boot, so they just travel and watch other matches. Andrzej, just breathless, emotionally shares his impressions: "Look, write that we are just walking on the air. It is cool here! I would never have thought! I've heard of Lviv and am very happy that finally I have seen it with my own eyes. There are a lot of parts of our history. But the people and your girls are just fantastic. They are friendly, always smiling, almost all are fit, good-looking, dressed with taste!

The last, who I talked to, were a German couple, who had traveled to Ukraine by their house on wheels. The camping of these "mobile accommodations" is located just behind the opera house. Margaret and Andreas remind the ‘70s hippies. "We are vegetarians, and in most institutions a range of dishes is limited. So we cook ourselves. We buy food in supermarkets. It is of a good quality here".  I was very surprised that the Germans have also noted our ... roads, "You have got better intercity roads than Poland. Although it does not apply to the cities: once you drive into towns - the roads are very bad".
Meanwhile, the Euro reached the stage of play-offs. So from now on only two Ukrainian stadiums ("Olympiyskiy" and "Donbass Arena") will host matches and European fans.

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