My long awaited trip to the 2018 World Cup finally materialized after months of strategic planning and sacrifice. The trip was on the verge of being postponed till Qatar but the investments couldn’t just be overlooked.
The World Cup is the biggest football in the universe unless there is a “Universe Cup” played in Jupiter or any other host planet (Imagine Infatinno bidding on behalf of Earth to host the next edition). I have always wanted to be in one and boom! I am billed to make my debut.
After going through three airports via Arik Air and Turkish Airline, i finally arrived Moscow through the Vnukovo International Airport. It was a long walk from my arrival gate to the customs area where my passport and FAN ID was checked. Hello Russia!!
First on my mind was communication. I connected to the WiFi at the Vnukovo Airport before getting a Beeline SIM for data outside areas with WiFi. Next, I got some rubles at the airport before looking for a way out. I didn’t want to get stranded like Randa without a local currency.
I got help from the Beeline SIM agent and was directed to take the 911 bus to town. Going down the elevator, a taxi vendor approached me and wanted 3000 rubles to my hotel. I was not convinced. I didn’t even bargain, I left him and went on.
Two FIFA World Cup Volunteers came to my aid – beautiful Yilda and a smiling Dmitry. The lady could speak English well and she helped me sort my journey to my hotel. She provided me with the available options to my destination but turned down the opportunity to share contacts on duty as a Volunteer. I have always wanted to be a Volunteer for a FIFA event. I was appointed one for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India but nothing came of it after the appointment.
Dmitry took to me to my Uber – Karimov, a Kyrgyz who was kind enough to take me to McDonalds for lunch. Karimov had a voice translator on his phone and we talked about the Russian game the night before. Russia lost 4-3 on penalties after extra time ended 2-2 with Croatia. They knew they were punching against their weight.
I watched the extra time in the flight from Lagos to Istanbul and wanted Russia to make it to the semis like Korea in 2002. I could feel the sadness and pride in every Russian. England defeated Sweden 2-0, Brazil lost to Belgium while France saw off Uruguay.
The voice translator helped my communication with Karimov and we chatted till he dropped me off. I paid less than a third of the 3000 rubles. I checked in easily, contacted friends, before taking a nap. Fisayo helped with some clarifications and KFC was next. I used Google to translate my order. I need to learn to speak Russian. No rice, No swallow, I had to make do with Chicken wings, chips and ice cream.
Day 1 is up and who said Moscow is cold? Yea, but not in July.