Nizhny Novgorod Russia

Russia World Cup 2018: Nizhny Novgorod

On 24 February 2022, Russia launched an unprovoked, large-scale military invasion of Ukraine, its neighbour to the southwest, marking an escalation to a conflict that began in 2014 with the Russian annexation of Crimea and the Donbass. Stop The War!

The train arrived in Nizhny Novgorod at 11 am. Thankfully luggage storage was available at the station, so I left my bag and headed into town.

The centrepiece is, would you believe The Kremlin. (The word actually means citadel) it had fortified towers and a view over the River Volga to the impressive new stadium.

Sweden fans

The match Sweden v Korea was decided by the Swedish players pleading with the referee to view the VAR. They chased him all the way to the half way line before they got their wish.

After the match, I headed straight back to the train station for the 19.06 to St Petersburg. Another free train laid on by FIFA.

The fourteen hour journey was to be spent with Alex and his daughter Uliana and an older gentleman Vladimir. Thankfully Uliana studied languages and she was able to translate.

When introducing himself to a Russian Alex said his name was Sasha. I quickly picked up on this and asked him why. He said all people named Alexander were also know as Sasha. I explained we have names where you can see where the nicknames come from like, but I did not understand this one...neither did he! I found out that one of Alex's first big football matches was Spartak v Napoli at the Luzhniki. Maradona played as did Cherchesov, the Russian manager.

Alex worked for the government and his administrative district included Nizhny Novgorod, Saint Petersburg and The Crimea (!).

I asked why people would not think it safe to travel to Russia and they explained it was just propaganda and that they thought everything would be fine.

No guns on Russian trains

I had seen evidence that steps were being taken to tighten security with the banning of guns on trains for the period of 25th May to 25th June, and I was assured you could never take a gun on the train.

As for smiling. Well I had already worked out that a lot of people here had not met foreigners and were basically shy. Also as they did not speak the same language they would avoid contact. Also when you do ask for help, they don't always know the answer.... but they want to give you something.... hence don’t trust a Russian.

Studying the news the next morning Alex announced with great delight that now (according to the polls) 60% of Russians thought that they would win today's match. Interesting to see he thought the polls were so important.

Upon arrival in St Petersburg Vladimir’s grandson met him and immediately offered me a lift to my accommodation.

How I wish I had taken him up on that offer!

Russia celebrates

Ross Clegg

See Ross' photos of the 2018 Europa League Final

Copa del Rey photos

2018 World Cup Logo

Saransk to Kazan

The Dark Side of Russia

Kazan to Moscow

Russian Hostels


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