Trip 8: Ukraine

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June 9th 2007
Published: June 9th 2007
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2002 was the first summer since 1997 that I hadn't spent in Europe because I left England in May to go back to the USA. This was very depressing for me, so I decided to let fate decide on whether or not I would return to Europe in the fall. Newcastle's group stage draw for the Champions' League was held in August. I decided that if they drew a Ukrainian or Russian team, I would go. Fate told me loudly to return to Europe when Newcastle drew Dinamo Kiev and then laughed at me by making Newcastle's match at Dinamo the first fixture. Bascially, I had to go in two weeks. I bought my plane ticket to Kiev and mailed my passport to the Ukrainian Embassy for my visa on the same day the draw results came out. Two weeks later, I was back in Europe. It was a short 10 day trip in which I spent 8 days in Kiev and 2 days in Odessa.

Odessa wasn't as interesting as I thought it would be, probably because it was a Black Sea resort city going through the off-season. I enjoyed exploring the port area, the nice archtecture, and parks of the center.

Kiev really cemented itself and one of my favorite places during this time. I saw fascinating things everyday and partied every night. I dined on delicious food at low prices, did some shopping, and sipped on beers while people-watching in the parks.

I met some Newcastle supporters around town before the match. When they heard I traveled to this match from America, I was instantly their favorite person and wasn't allowed to buy a drink all night. At the match, there were 50 of us, but our section was guarded by 100 nervous policeman. At halftime, we all had to go to the bathroom, but the police wouldn't let us out. Things got a bit out of hand and a shoving match ensued. Order was restored when the riot police made their appearance and we were finally allowed to go to the bathroom. After the match, one Newcastle supporter had two patches he had ripped from the uniform of one of the policeman during the shoving. As far as the match was concerned, Newcastle lost 2-0. I really wasn't too worried. Newcastle advanced from the group and into the next round anyway. Besides that, I got a memorable trip out of it.


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