Thursday, January 23, 2014

From the Farm to France

About to hit the road again, returning to Deauville, France for a second straight year to help cover the EPT stop. I fly out tomorrow, and with one long layover and losing a bunch of hours it’ll be Saturday before I arrive -- in time, though, for the Sunday start of the Main Event.

Am looking forward to returning to Deauville after last year’s trip which was the first time I’d been back in France after having lived there for a year with Vera some time back. We were in Lille, which is also in the north and which bears a lot of affinities with Deauville, thus filling last year’s trip with a great deal of déjà vu for your humble scribbler.

The headlines these days out of Ukraine are making me think of the first time I ever traveled to report on an EPT event, the one in Kyiv that happened back in 2009. (We used the Ukrainian spelling then, and I continue to today.) That was kind of a one-off occurrence, with a stop that had been originally scheduled to happen in Moscow getting rebooked for Ukraine at the last minute (also a reason why I happened to be asked to step in to help with the reporting).

That was a memorable trip for me for a number of reasons. At the time it was the longest distance I’d ever journeyed (by a long shot) to cover a poker tourney. And while Vera has had a chance to travel in Russia and surrounding countries, I’d never done so and thus it was kind of fascinating to spend even a short while in that part of the world.

That trip stands out for one more reason in my memory, too, as I happened to win the Media Event in a tourney that took five or six hours to complete. Indeed, I used to joke for a long time about how I was undefeated in tourneys outside the U.S. (no longer the case today). I wrote trip reports from Ukraine here, if you’re curious.

Of course, now I am seeing the frightening footage and am reading the reports of the massive protests happening in Kyiv currently (and spreading elsewhere). They’ve been going on since December, although turned violent this week with some protester deaths amid an escalation of the conflict with the Ukrainian government. Seeing the reports, I’ve attempted in vain to recall the streets I walked when I was there over four years ago, trying unsuccessfully to match my dim memory with the chaotic-seeming images from the past few days.

Am certainly hoping the tide turns in a more peaceful direction there soon. Meanwhile, I’m glad to be traveling and meeting up with friends and others who’ll be converging on Deauville over the next week. Am torn somewhat as I really don’t want to leave Vera and the horses. The farm is so calm and quiet, making it that much harder to leave it -- even just to go to the grocery store, never mind travel over the ocean.

But it’s good to see the world some, too. More to come.

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