Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Travel Report, EPT Kyiv: Arrival

EPT KievGreetings from eastern Europe! We made it! Was a long, long, long stretch of traveling Sunday-slash-Monday. But arrive we did around 4:30 in the afternoon yesterday, Kiev time (GMT+2).

Pardon my glee at merely having arrived, but there was a period in there when it did not appear Eric (a.k.a. FerricRamsium) and I would make it. At least not by yesterday afternoon, anyway.

Our trip included three separate flights, one to Memphis, then to Amsterdam, then to Kiev. The itinerary was well planned, but all seemed quickly to go awry when our initial flight was a solid 90 minutes late leaving thanks to a series of problems connected with fueling the sucker. Then once we landed in Memphis we sat on the tarmac an extra half-hour as we waited for a gate to free up. Hadn’t even left the continent and it seemed like we were already doomed to endure an extra day of travel for sure.

Those delays meant we were getting off that first flight a few minutes after our flight to Amsterdam was scheduled to depart. It hadn’t quite left, though, so Eric and I hoofed it. And after a wild, half-mile dash through the Memphis airport -- made all the more fun as we were each carrying a week’s worth of luggage, plus laptops, etc. -- we were the last to board before the plane took off.

“We run good,” we laughed, once safely in our seats.

Long wait in customsThe connection in Amsterdam some nine hours later was much less stressful, and we made it to Kiev right on schedule. Got off the plane, turned a couple of corners, and ran smack into an enormous, not-apparently-moving-much-at-all throng of people awaiting entry through customs (see left). Soon after taking our spots at the back of the line, our PokerNews colleagues John and Jeremy arrived, and the four of us had plenty of time to catch up during the two hours or so it took us to get to the front. (Gloria, the fifth and final member of our team, would arrive a couple of hours later.)

While waiting we spotted and waved to Benjo, Marc Convey, and a few other poker reporters helping form the madding crowd. Actually, the crowd was quite relaxed, as all appeared resigned to accept the fate of the wait. Also saw a few poker players in there, as it seemed like just about all of the flights to Kiev had landed around the same time.

Once we finally got through, the four of us shared a taxi to the hotel, making the already not too expensive trip (just 200 Hryvnia or about $25) even less so. Driver cranked his stereo. (“AC/DC, good?” he asked. “Very good,” answered Eric.) Am guessing something like 15 miles to our digs, located in close proximity to the Kiev Sport Palace where the tourney is taking place.

As the music pounded, we silently surveyed the interesting mix of architecture out the car windows, marking the somewhat chaotic-looking sprawl of the city. Some eye-catching buildings dotted the landscape, though lots of public housing in various degrees of disrepair filled the gaps, too. Lot of traffic, helping contribute to the familiar big-city smell of polluted air. Weather pleasant, though -- clear and upper 70s, I’d say.

The view from my balconyWas some time after 7 p.m. when we finally got checked in to our rooms. A humble set-up, but plenty comfortable and quiet. And a decent enough view. This morning I took some amateurish shots off the balcony, then pieced ’em together to fake this wide angle shot. Soon after taking those pics, I went down and enjoyed the awesome breakfast buffet -- a huge spread, with good, strong coffee to help stimulate yr still-a-little-tired gumshoe into full consciousness.

There’s a fitness center here, too, which I think I’ll have to try to start hitting. (Will have to be before that buffet, though.) The hotel does have wireless as well, but at a price (50 Hryvnia per hour). Am likely not to bother too much with that, I expect, since I’ll be spending most of my days at the Sport Palace, anyhow. Gonna head over there probably around 10 a.m. or so to pick up credentials and try to figure out how things will go this week as far as web access, set up, and what exactly we’ll be covering. We know we’re on the Main Event, Day 1a of which begins at noon today.

I’ll attempt to post updates here each morning before our days begin, writing them up before going over then trying to send at some point during the days. Will see if I can maybe snap a photo or two here and there as well.

Meanwhile, check in over on PokerNews’ live reporting page to see whether or not FerricRamsium and I have been able to get online. As the English version of our hotel’s greeting message says, “we hope for the fruitful cooperation!”

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Blogger Fredrik Paulsson: said...

Having passed through the miserable pit of despair that is Kiev's Customs Check, I'm deeply sympathetic with anyone else who has to. The picture you took is exactly how I remember it. It's funny you say it took you two hours; that's exactly what it took us. Maybe it's actually not inefficiency but some carefully timed perfectly executed plan designed to take exactly two hours? I'm drawing blanks when trying to come up with the purpose for such a scheme, though.

I wish I could give you any recommendations on sites or even bars or restaurants, but we spent our entire time at the office the three days I was there (from 8:30 in the morning to 11pm) so I can only suggest you not miss trying some of their sausages. They don't so much grind the stuff they put in them as chop them.

8/20/2009 3:36 PM  

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