Now coming towards the end of my tour of Ukraine, I thought it was time to discuss what the Ukraine has to offer.
Before the tournament started there was plenty of bad publicity. Now I believe that the reason there are not as many supporters here as normal is the ridiculous prices being charged from the outset by the local hoteliers.
When people see prices of over £100 a night for a basic hotel and over £50 a night in a hostel dormitory bed shared with 8 other people, a year before the competition starts, then prospective visitors are not encouraged to look at this as a sensible proposition. If you did look further into accommodation you would have been shocked to see some rooms at over £1,000 a night.
Noises were made by the Ukrainian government in April asking hoteliers to drop prices, but this fell on deaf ears. Some Ukrainians looked to put this right in May by setting up a movement to offer free accommodation to foreigners to counter the bad publicity their country had been receiving, alas this is too late to make any difference as the people who are set on coming have already made their arrangements.
The attitude of making as much as possible from the visitors is highlighted by my experiences with the taxi driver in Donetsk who would rather charge 250 hryvnia and stand outside waiting for a client than keep busy at a reasonable rate. Also the bar in Kharkiv where the price was exorbitant for locals. This shortsightedness does not endear you to the local businesses but makes me feel sorry for the local people who have to put up with this behaviour, whilst earning a meagre wage for example, the young doctors on the train to Lviv on €100 a month.
As for sightseeing, Kharkiv had several Soviet sights which you are warned that the locals don't like talking about.
Donetsk has the Donbass Stadium and the restaurant Старгород (Stargorod). The next thing to do there was visit a salt mine some 75k away where there is a football pitch 300m underground. I didn't have time to visit but I am guessing that someone from the U.A.E. did.
Lviv has a pleasant feel to it and has plenty of old buildings in the city centre which with some investment could make a popular tourist destination, especially as they have just improved the airport facilities.
There is also the Masoch Cafe, but don't beat yourself up if you don't get to see it!
I had read that there are plenty of things to see in Lviv, and I was lucky enough to be given a tour of the school of science, by a local. The place was used to film the Russian version of the Three Musketeers.
Kiev has (as I mentioned previously) numerous sights which make it stand out as a must see destination.
Would I come back to any of them?
Of course I will, if there is a football match on!
© Ross Clegg & Soccerphile.com
Euro 2012 Lviv