Euro 2012 travel guide: Donetsk

Planning to travel to Poland to watch Roy’s boys? Think again – all England matches will be played in Ukraine. Because we love you and we want you to be happy, we’ve put together this handy travel guide to Donestk. Read on to learn where to stay, what to see, and what to do while Greece are playing.

(If England win their group and then beat the runner-up in Group C – possibly Spain, probably Italy – their semi-final will take place in Poland. So to reiterate, all England matches will be played in Ukraine.)

Fixtures
Monday, June 11 – France v ENGLAND
Friday, June 15 – Ukraine v France
Tuesday, June 19 – ENGLAND v Ukraine
Saturday, June 23 – 1st Group C v 2nd Group D
Wednesday, July 27 – Semi-final 1

Stadium: Donbass Arena (capacity 50,000)
The recently-built Donbass Arena is home to Shakhtar Donetsk. Bankrolled by volatile oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, Shakhtar have dominated Ukrainian football in recent years by fielding teams made up entirely of low-rent Brazilians. To celebrate the Arena’s unveiling, a special concert was performed there by Shakhtar’s best-known celebrity fan, Beyoncé.

Donetsk history
Donetsk was founded in 1869 by Welsh coalminer John Hughes, who had got catastrophically drunk on his way home from Rhyl. The city was rebranded in 1924 as ‘Stalin’, which led to a decline in tourism, and subsequently a replacement with the jauntier ‘Stalino’. Almost completely destroyed during the Second World War, all that survived of Stalino in 1945 were the smoking ruins of the Jewish ghetto, a forced-labour factory and a stand-up comedy club, which had by that point been unused for several years.

What to see
Donetsk’s striking Opera and Ballet Theatre was constructed in 1936. It replaced an earlier building which was condemned and destroyed after Joseph Stalin became convinced it was plotting to poison him.

Where to eat
During Soviet times, Taras was famously the only restaurant in Donetsk where the food did not taste of coal dust. It remains popular today, even though it can no longer boast the same standards.

Where to stay
Higher-end travellers should consider Rinat Akhmetov’s Golden Star Deluxe, the most expensive hotel in the world. Each room is furnished with gold-plated pillows, full-length portraits of Rinat Akhmetov, and a private army. From £5 million per person sharing, breakfast not included.

Famous resident
Celebrated athlete Sergei Bubka grew up in Donetsk. In 1984, Bubka revolutionised the high jump event by being the first person to ‘vault’ using a pole. He dominated the sport for a decade, regularly clearing distances four metres higher than his frustrated rivals.

Safety tip
Donetsk is still a rather old-fashioned community in some ways, and many people there consider it very rude to be black. Try to avoid being black, or you may be harangued by offended passers-by.

Useful phrase
Vy buly prodani tut, abo zh vy chekayete, shhob buty prodani dali na zaxid?
– Have you been trafficked here, or are you waiting to be trafficked further west?

More from Back of the Net
Group A:
Poland – It's Not All Fun & Games
Russia – Excellent Control There
Greece – Cautious Football, Reckless Spending
Czech Republic – Might Not Surprise A Few People

Group B:
Netherlands
– Together As One, For Now
Germany – Herr There or Thereabouts
Portugal – It's Not All About Him, You Know
Denmark – Poulsen, Poulsen & Poulsen Aim For Glory

Group C:
Spain – So Good, They Might Not Even Bother
Italy
– The Bookmakers' Favourites
Croatia – Like A Game Of Chess. No, Really...
Rep of Ireland – Oh Yeah, Lucky As Anything

Group D:
Ukraine – No Definite Article
England – Struggling To Meet Low Expectations
France – Sane Coach Proving A Novelty
Sweden – Loveable Fans, Workmanlike Team

Topics