I was lucky to visit Donetsk on the 19th of June. I went to a Euro 2012 football match between the Ukrainian and the English national football teams. I went to the match with Kyrylo (namesake), a friend of mine.

Day 1. The match

A trip between Kharkiv and Donetsk takes about three and a half hours by train. We used a modern train officially called HRCS2, unofficially also known as “Hyundai”.

I wasn’t impressed by Donetsk. The first scene you see when you leave the Donetsk railway station is an ugly market.

It’s interesting that almost all the banners are in Russian language, while in my city they are all mostly in Ukrainian.

We found a hostel that we had planned to rent for 1 day. The hostel was a decrepit old building with a bad smell inside.

Such a lovely view in the backyard.

Well, the good news is that the rent of a “luxurious” room with a broken TV-set and a flying fly costed us only 5 euro.

Waiting for the receptionist to bring us the keys from our room, watching a soap opera.

Got the keys. Kyrylo is trying to fix the TV-set (why on Earth? We didn’t even watch it).

After we moved in, we decided to go to the Donbas Arena stadium and check it out. We’ve also got a couple of maps of Donetsk at a Euro 2012 help booth.

A tram was the most optimal choice.

On our way to Donbas Arena we’ve been feasting our eyes on the miners’ land. Donetsk felt like a huge village. The streets were grim. The atmosphere was depressing. There were almost no buildings. Only a lot of grass and trees.

However, the stadium and its surroundings deeply impressed me. The lawn was accurately shaved, the flowers pleasingly blossomed and the fountains were merrily splashing water.

I have a hunch that Shakhtar’s brazilians live inside those blue containers. Why not, it’s not far from the stadium.

The Donetsk Copacabana.

We had 10 spare hours before the match so we figured that it would be nice to eat something. We visited some restaruant with delicious food. After the breakfast we decided to visit so-called fan zone. Since we had football tickets, all public transport was free for us. We took a bus. The fan zone was in a park in a couple of kilometers from the restaurant.

This bridge connects the park with the rest of the city.

It was really hot outside. I haven’t had a cap, so it was really necessary to cool my head down.

The fan zone was quite big. As big as it was boring there. So the only fun thing was to take pictures.

To take pictures with some guys promoting Carlsberg.

To take pictures with fans.

Or take pictures with Englishmen.

Englishmen were extremely popular at that day. Everyone wanted to have a photo with them, so there was a queue. The Englishmen were happy about that, too. If you ask me, I don’t quite understand the hype. Why would you want to take photos of some random men?

Our guys were unpopular at that day. No-one wanted to take pictures with them.

Out of thin air a man approached us. He wanted to take a picture of me and Kyrylo and send it to my email. No idea why he wanted that, but he didn’t send us anything.

Meanwhile some people appeared on the stage and started dancing.

The match was going to start soon.

We met a few more Englishmen. They were pretty drunk.

One of the guys said that the English fans will be louder than the whole stadium of Ukrainians. I said that that was the biggest bollocks I’ve ever heard. However, he didn’t lie. They were louder.

The fan zone was nice, but we were running late for the match. So, we had to go. We wanted to pee and the loo was very close.

Finally, we are at the stadium. Donbas Arena is amazing. We managed to be in time.

I was really impressed by the atmosphere. There were many empty seats. Unfortunately, the tickets were expensive, so probably not everyone could afford them.

It was the last game of Andriy Shevchenko, our best footballer. When I was at the stadium, it seemed to me that we were immensely loud. But when I watched a TV recording of this game, it turned out we were relatively silent. Illusion at its best.

Ukraine lost the game and didn’t qualify to the next round, so everyone was upset. Initially we wanted to return to the fan zone after the match, but then we decided to go to the hostel and have some rest.

Day 2. Aftermatch

On the next day we had our train at 19:00, and we woke up around 11:00. We had plenty of time to explore the city. It was almost lunch time and we could eat a whole elephant. I suggested to visit the same restaurant we’ve been at on day one, but Kyrylo wanted to visit McDonald’s. I didn’t really want to eat there, so we decided that I eat first and then we go to McD’s. While I was eating, Kyrylo explored more of the city.

Donetsk is known for its mafia and we were constantly joking about it. However, it probably exists. When I finished eating, walked outside and started waiting for Kyrylo, I accidentally became involved in someone’s conflict. I appeared straight in the centre of it. According to the media, some random guy wanted to kill another “big guy” with a screwdriver. I think this is lies, but whatever. You can read about it in Russian.

Afterlunch

We figured that we want to explore the centre of the city. It turned out that the area nearby Donbas Arena isn’t the centre at all. However, a McDonald’s, where Kyrylo had his lunch was.

Donetsk has a cool boulevard. They made it cool specifically for Euro 2012. We’ve been wandering there and then came to a park. The park is very beautiful and large, containing multiple sections. One disappointing thing about it was that there was lots of ads of McD’s.

Kyrylo is trying not to cry because of the defeat of our team (in reality this is a good illustration for children books for the term “hangover”).

It was time to go to the railway station. We took a bus with a crazy driver. It looked like he forgot to turn his iron off in his apartment, so he was rushing like a madman to turn it off.

The good thing was that we were on time. Goodbye, Donetsk.

The centre of Donestk is much better than the centre of Kharkiv, but my city is better in general. I can’t say that I enjoyed Donetsk, but I cannot say I didn’t either.

I’m happy that I participated in Euro 2012.