Russia’s airports have had a face-lift and thankfully for the exhausted fans on the World Cup trail they have not proven to be much of an inconvenience.
With distances between venues potentially thousands of miles, they have had to be amenable.
Coffee shops, relaxing massage chairs or playing table football. They’re all available.
As are bars showing what has brought all these travelers to Russia — there’s no escaping the football.
There’s no escaping the fans, either, as they crisscross this huge country. Football is a universal language.
For Korean software engineer Seo Dong Yal, preparations for the World Cup began a year ago and it has cost his three-member family around $10,500. Experiencing the World Cup for the fifth straight time, he is always on the lookout for ways to keep down the cost of his three-week stay in Russia.
His favorite World Cup was in Germany in 2006.
“It was perfect. Beautifully organized. Amazing transport and cheap,” he said. “The most expensive was in 2014 in Brazil due to the large cost of air tickets.”
German engineer Detlef Ziolkowski has come to Russia with his wife Birgit from Cologne for a week to watch two matches. It has not been cheap — $7,000.
“I paid 220 euros ($255) for each ticket to see my country play against Sweden but fortunately we won in the end,” he said.
Following Sochi, it’s Kazan. For Russia, that’s not considered a huge distance at around 1,500 kilometers (930 miles). However, it usually involves flying back to Moscow.
It can be a draining experience.
Time will tell what the World Cup has done for Russia’s image as a tourist destination. There were predictions that more than 1.5 million foreign tourists would visit Russia during the World Cup. Not all will have tickets. The Fan Fests in every host city have been vibrant — FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, announced that in the first week of the matches, 2.5 million fans watched games in designated areas across the 11 host cities.
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