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Day 4 - Moscow

April 9th, 2010 by sneedlestone

After spending the night inside the airport, I made my way back to Moscow town center with a couple of other Chelsea fans around 8am(local time). Although I didn’t get much sleep that night , the atmosphere inside the terminal was friendly on both sides. And I enjoyed a beer or two with both Manchester United and Chelsea supporters. The fact that everyone on the whole got on with no trouble even directly after the final whistle, when tensions can often run high, says alot for the fans of both teams. In fact this was the case throughout the whole of my journey.

Sheremetyevo airport was a fair trek from the town center. And in order to get there I had to jump on board one of the very busy local buses from outside the terminal, which would then take me back to the Moscow Metro.

While the cost of living in Moscow is dear, public transport is relatively inexpensive. However unlike the modern clean trains, the bus I was on was old, run down, dirty and slow. I stood up for the entire ride. I’m guessing we must have been in some kind of rush hour as the roads were jam packed. People don’t talk much inside public transport, so when I suddenly got a phone call from the Capital Gold Breakfast show, you bet everyone was staring at me with interest. What a weird moment talking live on air to James Cannon and Erika North in the middle of a packed out bus, somewhere on the outskirts of Moscow.
I was tired, disappointed about the result and a bit confused. So I guess I wasn’t really too worried about my surroundings, or the fact that half the bus was staring me out. I’ve never been on any radio before, in fact it was my brother unbeknown to me who had contacted them on my behalf. As far as I can remember I did OK, although to be fair I don’t remember too much. I do remember the last question they asked was something along the lines of ” is there anything you would like to say to other Chelsea fans out there”. I’m guessing I was meant to say that Chelsea would be back etc. but under the circumstances all I could think of in reply was “yes what I would like to say is I am tired and I just want to go to bed”. Well at least I was honest!

Anyway after a long bus ride I eventually found my way back on to the Metro system, together with two other Chelsea fans. We decided to head toward the famous Red Square. Using the metro had been easy the previous day as all I had to do was follow the hordes of football fans. To be honest it’s probably not too difficult to navigate the system. However with the station names all in Russian Red square was actually “Okhotny ryad”, and unfortunately I did not know this. In fact with few or no name signs inside the stations , it was hard at times to even know which station I was in. I did know we were heading from the outskirts toward the center, and with a little help from the other two lads we did get there in the end. Even if I did do my best to take us in the wrong direction.

After some lunch, I managed to lose the two lads I was with, or maybe they managed to lose me. Not to worry as I still got to see all the sights that Red Square had to offer including the Kremlin and the various ornate Cathedrals.

Unfortunately like much of my stay in Russia the weather wasn’t great. And after walking around most of the area, ducking in and out of heavy showers I made my way back to Moscow Rijskaja. From where my sleeper train back to Riga would depart.

Day 3 Continued & Day 4- Moscow

May 22nd, 2008 by sneedlestone

This was my first day in Moscow and arriving from Riga around mid-day I did my best to follow the crowd via the metro service in to the centre. The Metro although very fast, and efficient can be a bit confusing at times. All the station names are in Russian and the stations inside seem to be quite large with a number of different entrances and exits. I paid 155 Roubles for a 10 trip pass, a little over 3 pounds in British money, which seems like good value.

Having made my way into the city centre. I found myself walking down a large street full of bars & restaurants. I stopped here to have some lunch, sitting outside a well know Italian restaurant watching all the football fans go by. With a good eight hours or so until kick off I was in no hurry to go anywhere!
Soaking up the atmosphere I began to notice that it was quite clear that Manchester United fans outnumbered us Chelsea fans. Or at least where I was sitting anyway. So off I went in search of a Chelsea pub. After walking all the way up the street and the round the block I started to wonder where all the Chelsea fans had gone?

Moscow is a pretty big city, so rather than worry about where I was going I decided just to go for a walk around the centre. Seeing army,guards and police on every street corner is an unusual sight, I’m not sure it gives Moscow a very friendly feel! After visting a shopping centre and a Russian supermarket, I bumped in to a large group of Chelsea fans, and tagged along with them for a while before deciding it was time to get a bit of food in, before heading off to the stadium.

Luzhniky Stadium/Chelsea V Man U

After following the large flow of fans through the metro to the Sportivnaya station home of the Luzhniky stadium, and I am also told Torpedo Moscow. I make it to the ground for around 8pm, a little under 3 hours before kick-off. With such a huge police/army presence everywhere the atmosphere is a bit strange to say the least. Fans are singing and dancing, however there is definately a sense of tension in the air. As for myself the nerves have now started to kick in. This is it, I have travelled for three days across three different countries to get here. And now finally, I am here standing outside the Luzhniki stadium, unbelievable!

I don’t suppose I need to explain to you what happened during the game. As I am sure you all watched it for yourself. Needless to say after 90 minutes, extra time & those cruel cruel penalties I was absolutely shattered. With nowhere to stay for the night and the weather taking a turn for the worse I sought refuge in Moscow Sheremetyevo airport. With a free direct bus service running from outside the ground,and the alternative being a night on the streets of Moscow. I would say the decision to stay there for the night was a pretty easy one.

As you can see from the following picture, the airport was full of tired fans. With many having to wait ages for their scheduled flights, were talking afternoon or even evening flights(and this was the early hours of the morning). It was no surprise really to find people asleep just about anywhere and everywhere inside the terminal building.

Day 3 - Riga to Moscow(sleepertrain)

May 21st, 2008 by sneedlestone

After an epic 17 hour train journey I have finally made it to Moscow. And actually as bad as it sounds I quite enjoyed the train ride. 
The atmosphere continues to be friendly. With a good mixture of football fans and locals on board, the whole train ride was a good experience. As you would expect most people were up drinking until the early hours of the morning. That said once we eventually made it past the Russian border, and had had all our documents(passport,immigration card, and match ticket) checked, the lights in the train were dimmed down. And I took the opportunity to get a good nights sleep in before the big day.

A few quick words about the train. Although there were two trains going from Riga to Moscow, the one I was on was called a Jurmala, which is the more basic of the two. Seats ranged from second class(4 in a cabin), third class/platzcart, which is a kind of open carriage filled with double bunks all the way along.Apparently this is what most locals used(and also my choice). Finally there is 4th class which is basically just a seat.
The photos below are take from a 3rd class/Platzcart carriage. Personally I enjoyed the friendly openess of the whole carriage. They say from a safety point of view(particularly for women) that this also the safest. As everyone looks out for one another.

The great thing about the sleeper train is that if you do manage to get some good sleep in, once you wake up in the morning you are almost in Moscow. So the 17 hours really doesn’t feel that long. And what with the bed and the freedom to roam, it really isn’t so bad.


Day 2- Camping in Nykoping/ Sweden to Riga

May 20th, 2008 by sneedlestone

Day 2 - Stockholm(Skavsta)/Riga

Following on from where I left off yesterday. Everything went bang on plan. I was successful in reaching Liverpool Airport on time. And my flight to Stockholm Skavsta even arrived 20 minutes early.

Onboard the flight were mainly locals, I managed to sit right in the middle of the only 5 Manchester United fans on the whole plane. I thought it best to introduce myself, at the end of the day were all football fans from England and the match doesn’t start util wednesday. So why not be friendly?

So as I said the flight went well. And since I had the task of finding somewhere to camp , I was grateful to arrive early. In order to get a half decent night sleep I thought it best to not pitch my tent up next to the runway. So I jumped a bus to a local town called Nykoping, in search of a nice camping spot.

I thought I would try my luck and ask the bus driver to drop me off somewhere which might be suitable for camping. He was extremely helpful, but I think he thought I was crazy, and after asking me to stay on the bus to the last stop. He then pointed me in the direction of a local hotel in Nykoping(not what I was asking).

Anyway Nykoping, or at least the centre was more built up than I had expected. And with lots of residential houses and streets it took me a while to find a suitable pitch for the night. I eventually settled for a peice of public land inside lots of overgrown cover behind a local museum. With the tent up in a matter of minutes I finally climbed inside and went to bed around quarter past one.

After a cold but fairly decent and undisturbed nights sleep I woke up looked out my tent and had no idea where I had ended up. Packing the tent down I walked off in search of the local bus back to the airport. Luckily this friendly local was on hand not just to give me directions but to walk me all the way there, and show me to the right stop. This guy was 14 years old, spoke perfect English and was as friendly as punch, nice one!

That brings me up until now. Ryanair flight Stockholm(Skavsta), arrived here in Riga around 3pm local time. The sun is shining and I have a train to catch in half an hour, so I best be off now.

Moscow here I come…

Additional photos

Day 1- London/Manchester/Liverpool/Stockholm

May 19th, 2008 by admin

On the way-arriving in Manchester Picaddily

Day 1 - London to Manchester

So far everything is running nice and smooth. After leaving my house this morning just afer the rush hour, I made it to Euston in good time to catch the 10:35 train to Manchester. Where I met my old friend & flatmate James for a quick coffee(13:00). Before he had to get back to the office. If your reading this, thanks alot for the coffee, really nice to see you!

Next stop Nationwide bank, to pay off some last minute bills(boring). Followed by a late lunch in Subway. That brings me up to now, where I am curently sitting in front of a PC in Manchester Central library.

Day 1- Manchester to Liverpool Airport/ Liverpool to Stockholm(One man & his tent)

The plan for the rest of the day is to catch the bus from Manchester city centre direct to Liverpool airport(6pm).
I then catch a flight at 8:20pm and will arrive in Stockholm(Skavsta) around 11:30. I think the biggest challenge of the day is going to be finding somewhere suitable to pitch a tent at midnight near Skavsta. I’m guessing its gonna be cold, dark and I have no knowledge the local area.
Random Swedish forest here I come…wish me luck

Anyway I’ll try my best to keep the updates coming, and maybe a few photos if possible. I’m guessing I may not be able to get back on the internet now until I arrive in Riga tommorow afternoon!

Welcome to Journey to Moscow

May 11th, 2008 by admin

This years Champions League final is in Moscow and I along with many thousands of Chelsea and Man U fans will be making the journey there.

These journeys are journeys of passion, hope and unfortunately massive spending. Club trips start at £800 and there are no affordable direct ways of getting to Moscow. I set myself the target of getting to Moscow on a budget. This is my story…