The guide below was drawn up in the
heat of the draw - I will be adding to this over the coming months
with pertinent links and more detailed travel suggestions. I've
added some useful links relevant to each destination - the obvious
airline and pan-European rail links can be found on our Travel
Again! This is the third Euro campaign in
a row we've been drawn to play in Lithuania
to get to: 7/10 Not
difficult - fly direct with a choice of airlines, or train/bus
it from Poland, Latvia or Belarus.
get tickets: 4/10 Not
the largest stadia, but given how unpopular the last debacle
was, could yet be under-scubscribed.
Ryanair fly direct to Kaunas, the most likely destination.
Vilnius is the capital, and is much better served with regular
flights from British Airways, Lithuania Airlines and Air Baltic.
Overland travel from Latvia is simple (4 hours by frequent
bus, slightly longer by infrequent train), and possible from
Belarus (visa complications) and Poland (possible transit
through Belarus or the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.
Vilnius is an up-and-coming Eastern European tourist mecca,
best appreciated in warmer weather. There's a wide choice
of hotels to suit all budgets, and the large old town area
is still easily walkable. Kaunas has less choice, and going
by the accounts of almost everyone who stayed there last time,
is not the best choice for an extended stay. We'll be staying
in Vilnius and bussing it through to Kaunas if necessary.
Kaunas' 8,000 capacity, two-sided stadium is the most likely
venue. Firstly, because it's in far better nick than the crumbling
Zalgiris Stadium in Vilnius (scene of our 0-0 draw in September
1998), and secondly, because Lithuania beat a Berti Vogts'
inspired Scotland 1-0 in our last visit.
the Travel Details page: Lithuania - Weds 6th September
Back to Lithuania! This will be our fourth
trip to Lithy - two previous trips with Scotland (1998
and 2002) plus one bank holiday break. Vilnius has improved
each time we've been, so we're really looking forward
to this one!
Helen and Paul are flying BA from Gatwick to Vilnius,
early Monday morning out and Sunday lunchtime back,
along with James and Lynne. Ally & Susan are out
for a similar length of time, as is Rich. Most of us
are staying in the Conti Hotel, on the edge of the Old
Town. If the game is in Kaunas, we'll be bussing down
on the day of the game again - the few hours we had
in the place last time convinced us that it's not the
place to stay!
Plenty of options remain open for travelling, but many
of the cheapest routes have gone. Ryanair fly direct
to Kaunas from Stansted and Dublin, and BA, Air Baltic
and LAL fly from Gatwick. There's also a number of flights
to Riga (easy bus and less easy train lnks), and Warsaw
(with a convulted train journey that avoids the visa
complications of Kaliningrad and Belarus). Accommodation-wise,
Vilnius offers much more than Kaunas, and is recommended
unless actually flying into Kaunas on matchday.
A first for Scotland - will the team prove
chicken in Kiev?
to get to: 5/10 Not
the easiest, but not actually that difficult. Long overland
travelling times between cities.
get tickets: 10/10 Assuming
game is in Kiev, then there's no danger of not getting
in to this massive 80,000 stadium!
Fly direct to Kiev with BA, or connect through almost any
major airport in Germany or further east. Ukrainian airline
AeroSvit are starting flights to Birmingham. The Baltic states
also make a logical transfer point, especially if combined
with budget flights from the UK. The more adventurous can
travel by train from Warsaw (consider visiting Lyov en route)
If you really, really want to do things the difficult way,
then travel via Moldova, or by ferry to the Black Sea ports
from Turkey/Georgia are possibilities. Personally, I'll be
saving the holiday!
Incidentally, and contrary to what seems the current preference,
a double-header with Georgia would be a very bad thing. Irrespective
of the immense overland travelling times between the two capitals,
the Georgia-Russia border is smack-bang in the middle of a
war-zone and is often closed.
Kiev is reputed to be awash with business-class hotels, but
not much in the way of budget accommodation. More on this
when the venue and date is confirmed.
Kiev (or Kyiv if you're using the more fashionable transliteration)
is probably a 90% shoe-in for this game, and if so, we should
have no troubles fitting in to the 80,000 capacity stadium.
However, with Italy and France likely to be more of a draw
for the home fans (even if they will only have a small fraction
of our travelling support), it is feasible we'll find ourselves
out in the provinces.
the Travel Details page: Ukraine - Weds 11th October 2006
A new destination for the Tartan Army
(although Celtic and Hibs have both played there recently),
and one I'm particularly looking forward to. Despite
press scaremongering about stadium unsuitability, Kiev's
huge Republican Stadium remains the favourite to host
this game, and most of the early booking has been for
Kiev (ourselves included). Please do remain aware that
the game could still be confirmed for outside Kiev,
with Odessa, Simferopol, Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk and
Lviv all remote (in both probability and proximity!)
Paul, Helen, James and Lynne are all out from Heathrow
to Kiev (Monday to Sunday), with Ally and Susan taking
a more roundabout route for the same duration; we're
all in the President Hotel Kyivsky (along with a large
number of fellow Tartan Army by the sounds of it), which
is only a few minutes from the hotel. Rich and Clarkston
Chris, ever alert to a bargain, are flying via Italy
and arriving into Borispol in the middle of the night.
No idea where they're staying (although, by the sounds
of it, the first night may be on a bench in the Arrivals
For a city behind the old Iron Curtain, Kiev's a pretty
easy place to get to. There's a host of flight connections
from all over central Europe, including the major German
hubs and Prague, and the journey is possible by train
(15 hours plus) from Poland (trains head from both Warsaw
and Krakow). One thing to note, particularly for anyone
who had booked flights to Vilnius for these dates, is
that travel through Belarus (between Lithuania and Ukraine)
requires a visa (and return travel necessitates a multiple-entry
Second campaign in a row, although at least
they are more of a known quantity.
to get to: 8/10 Travelling
to Italy should present few problems - a multitude of
budget airlines serve every corner.
get tickets: 5/10 - 8/10 Availability
is dependent on where the game is to be played - Milan:
no problems, Palermo: more so!
No problems here - Easyjet and Ryanair pretty much have every
corner of the country, including the islands, covered, not
to mention ever-reliable British Airways and ever-so-unreliable
Where we actually have to get to is more of an open question
- the venue of the 2005 game was a case of pure speculation
for many months, before Milan was finally named. At least
it can't be quite as bad - the game cannot fall on Easter
Saturday this time around! Milan and Rome remain the most
likely venues, particularly as the Italian FA were able to
see first-hand just how many well behaved Scots were there
the last time. However, don't book anything just yet... it
could just as easily be Palermo, Lecce, Bari, Florence, Bologna,
Anyone's guess until the venue is announced.
See above. With the Italian FA, who can tell...
the Travel Details page: Italy - Weds 28th March 2007
After much delaying and
gnashing of teeth, the FIGC (Italian FA) confirm months
of speculation and finally name Bari as the venue. Then
after much rioting in Catania, the FIGC suspend all
football and condemn the vast majority of top level
stadia. More gnashing of teeth, and it's back on in
Bari. Did someone mention "over reaction"?
Anyways, by a twist of luck, Paul had booked an "insurance"
hotel room in Bari. The plan is to fly Gatwick - Cologne
with EasyJet on the Tuesday night, a night in Cologne
(splashing it all over), then Hapag-Lloyd to Bari for
a one-nighter, arriving 3pm on matchday. BRI-CGN-LGW
on the Thursday, then back to the office Friday...
For the fourth time in row, we find ourselves
pitted against the islanders in the Euro Qualifiers!
to get to: 2/10 The
difficulty comes in getting on to the island - there's
only two airlines fly there
get tickets: 8/10 Small
ground, but as there's not many locals, and is very expensive
to get to, likely to be no problems.
Depending on the time of year, the Smyril Line ferry may
be running between Lerwick on Shetland and Torshavn. Failing
that, it's by air, and your options are very, very limited.
Atlantic Airways fly intermittently from Stansted and Aberdeen,
and there may also be flights from Iceland and Norway. Maersk
are now part of Sterling, and no longer fly to the Faroes,
but thanks to Flo for the tip off about a new airline starting
up in May 2006 - at the moment the Faroe
Jet site is only in Faroese, but keep 'em peeled!
Realistically, you may want to seriously consider a package
deal here, as coupled with the hotel problem (below), booking
the Faroes can prove to be a real headache!
Torshavn has three hotels. Good luck! There are a few other
accommodation options dotted around the islands, some of which
are a full 90 minute bus ride from the capital village. Don't
count on a throbbing nightlife to help you while away the
hours without a bed either! Not good. Not good at all.
There are two possibilities here, neither of which will affect
travel or hotel (or lack of) plans. Toftir is the old national
stadium, a non-league standard ground perched on a mountain
top overlooking a fjord a 45-minute ferry ride from Torshavn
- the Faroes may look to play us here given their good fortune
in the past two games there (1-1 in 1999 and 2-2 in 2002).
There is also a new ground on the edge of Torshavn (a good
15 minute stroll from the other edge!), which is far more
convenient for us.
the Travel Details page: Faroes - Weds 6th June 2007
As with Georgia, getting in and out of
the country could be tricky. Maersk, who previously
flew from Billund and Copenhagen, have been taken over
by Sterling and no longer fly the route. Package deals
may offer the solution, but with the airport subject
to special landing restrictions (size of plane, no landing-by-wire)
it restricts the options.
Ally and Susan are going for the long-haul, and planning
on taking in Faroes-Italy on the Saturday, whilst Bruce,
James, Lynne, Paul and Helen are all booked on the WESTA
Ahh, the Auld Alliance, the joie de vivre,
the big pylon, the shock of paying for beer at Paris prices.
It's all here...
to get to: 9/10 The
easiest nation to get to outside of the British Isles
- plenty of options!
get tickets: 8/10 Massive
stadium should be enough to satisfy all but the very largest
Oct 2006: Confirmed as Parc des Princes, south-west Paris,
Jan 2006: Almost certainly to be the
Stade de France in the suburb of St Denis, just north of Paris.
One of the three stations serving the stadium is actually
on the route between central Paris and Charles de Gaulle Airport.
If the unforeseen happens, France boasts a number of alternative
large stadiums, including the Parc des Princes in south-west
Paris (Metro Line 9 - cheers Danny!), Marseille, Lyon, St
Etienne and Bordeaux. But seriously, it will be in Paris,
and when it is, we should get at least 8,000 tickets, and
given the likely indifference of the locals (assuming they
don't win the World Cup again this summer, or the game is
pivotal to their qualification), probably as many as we want.
The options are wide and varied: train from London Waterloo
or Ashford; boat from Newhaven or Dover, then SNCF on to Paris;
flight-wise you've all the airlines you can think of serving
Charles de Gaulle (the big, unfriendly one in the north),
Orly (the one in the south) and Beauvais (the one miles and
miles away). You can even drive via the Eurotunnel, so there's
no excuse for, ahem, missing the boat on this one.
Assuming Paris, expect to pay top dollar at weekends/in the
summer/around bank holidays/at any other time at all. Your
hard-earned will secure a room slightly larger than the bed,
with a bathroom you'll be lucky to be able to shut the door
with you in. A better bet is a budget chain, such as Ibis
Area-wise, the action gathers in the St Paul and Bastille
areas (Rue de Lappe is where the French drinkers go for a
night out), and south of the river in St Germain and the Latin
Quarter. Two of Paris' three known Scottish pubs (the excellent
Pure Malt and the iconic Auld Alliance) are each within a
few hundred yards of St Paul metro station.
the Travel Details Page: France - Weds 12th September
The game has been confirmed for the 50,000
capacity Parc des Princes in south-western Paris.
As usual, NATA are employing a variety of weird and
wonderful travel methods - Bruce and Sharon are going
by Eurostar; James, Lynne, Ally and Susan are flying
directly from Scotland and Helen and Paul are making
a flying visit from Heathrow on the Tuesday night back
on the Thursday lunchtime.
A first for Scotland - a tie against a powder
keg nation deep in the Caucasus. Lovely...
to get to: 2/10 It could
have been more difficult, but not much! Perched between
warring countries, this will be a challenge!
get tickets: 9/10 Probably
the game with the smallest travelling support, so don't
expect too many problems on this front.
Okay. Kazakhstan would have been the worst, possibly followed
by Azerbaijan. Georgia and Armenia are the next trickiest.
Overland travel is prohibitively time-consuming, and nigh
impossible from the north, with the Russian border being off-limits
almost all of the time. Travel from Turkey is possible, but
the route takes you through bandit country. And to top it
all, the police are notoriously corrupt.
Flying into the capital (Tbilisi) is your main option, although
there is a boat across the Black Sea to Ukraine. British Airways
(via the British Mediterranean franchise) do fly several times
a week, otherwise obvious hubs include Istanbul and Moscow.
Expect mucho expense for this one, both for travelling and
for bribes. At least we don't have to worry about a visa!
Of course, you could always catch the midnight train...
No idea - more information nearer the time.
Dinamo Tbilisi play in a big bowl of a ground, holding 75,000
for domestic matches, however this apparently reduces to 22,000
for UEFA games. It's still a fair bet, in keeping with every
ex-Soviet ground, that they still won't have thought to install
the Travel Details page: Georgia - Weds 17th October 2007
A very tricky one, this. Limited flights
in and out, and an already difficult situation compounded
by the most frequent connection through Moscow being
ruled out due to England's game there. Passport Travel
could offer a lifeline for this trip for many.
Paul, Helen, Ally and Susan's initial plans involve
flying via Munich and being in Tbilisi from very early
on Monday morning until very early on the Friday.