The final match of the round of 16 takes place in Glasgow.
The ex-nuclear submarine base in Balaclava in the Crimea was such a secret that the town of Balaclava did not appear on maps and even the families of engineers, scientists & technicians who worked there had no idea that the base existed!
The facility is built into the cliff face and was hidden from the world. Submarines would arrive undetected below the surface, only to rise up once inside.
I visited in 2011 when Crimea was undisputedly part of Ukraine. My friend and I arrived via Budapest, Bucharest, Chisinau & Odessa, having to take an extremely uncomfortable overnight bus from the latter to Sevastopol.
The former secret had now opened up to become a not very well publicised museum. I stumbled across the existence of the place in my pre-trip research and it definitely became one of the highlights of a wonderful tour that also included stays in Lviv & Kiev and at 27 hours, my longest ever train journey.
After recovering from our bus pains and an unpleasant experience at Sevastopol Train Station (click on TICKETS to read about that episode), we set off in a taxi from our hotel to the base.
What a brilliant place to visit. As we entered the rocky facade, it felt like we were going into the evil lair of one of the villains in a James Bond movie, the type of place that gets blown up in the end as Bond miraculously escapes with a beautiful woman.
It was here that Soviet nuclear submarines were maintained and repaired. Narrow channels filled with inky black water was where the submarines would be worked on.
I visited Gothenburg once, for a business meeting with Stena Line in 2003.
It was literally airport-taxi-meeting-taxi-airport. I flew in from Frankfurt on a turboprop plane that had to be de-iced before we took off.
The weather was atrocious in Sweden too – heavy snow and foggy conditions. It wasn’t even worth a taxi around the centre as you could hardly see out of the windows.
Our flight home was delayed three-hours and at one stage it looked like we would not be leaving at all!
I am sure the city is lovely – must go back.
Score prediction – Ukraine 1 Sweden 1 (Ukraine win on penalties)