In what has seemed like an age to come. The day has finally come, with Junior Eurovision week about to commence. Today, has seen many of the delegations start to arrive in Minsk, all ready for the opening ceremony that will take place at the Minsk Arena tomorrow.
Just like the delegates, Eurovoxx has sent two of it's representatives to Minsk. Both Jess and Chris will report live, get interviews, review and give you a general sense of what this wonderful city is about, and how the singers, and press will interact at the contest. As Ulrika Johnsson once said in 1998, "If it's going to go wrong, it'll go wrong now".
Day one started on a very tired note, arriving at Gatwick several hours earlier than needed to be, and already worrying that our suitcases will arrive not arrive with us, we both excited, if a little nervous. So far, so good, we leave London, and we arrive in Kyiv on time for the first part of the connection. We have an hour to connect for Minsk. Even with a dizzy ginger trying to lead, it goes right, and we get to gate D17 no problem, 30 minutes to spare, and we relax knowing it will all be alright.
The time is 9.30, and we haven't checked in yet. There is a message saying "Minsk" and "Delayed" but we are to tired to think it could possibly refer to us, as there are several flights going that way today. There are a lot of locals, and Belorussians in the queue, all smiling and grinning, several casually leave the gate, as if nothing is wrong. However, there is a sunken feeling that our flight may be delayed. Everyone though, seems so calm, and happy that we think it cannot possibly be us.
To be sure I stubbornly go and check the board, to which the horror of the realisation is true, that yes our flight is delayed. It is delayed by 6 hours!!!! I am so tired at this point that i tell Jess the great news with a despondent smile on my face, that we now have to move to DV 4, and wait a full six hours until the next flight.
If this was the UK, there would be expletives, tantrums, and drama. None of that in Ukraine, which is surreal. Everyone is polite, and just gets on with it.
At least there is a pretty view of the snow from the airport, surely that is enough to keep us going. Not quite, but patience did prevail. We wait at our new home to find, even the delegates can't escape this. Low and behold there sat in front of us is Darina Krasnovestka, and her team. Suddenly, things don't seem that bad, we are all in this together. Darina looked, and acted like the star she is. In fact you could have put a stage in front of her, and she would have performed, and entertained her heart out. Eurovoxx believes this is certainly a good sign of things to come.
A little bit of Wales In Belarus
After five hours we were getting impatient, tired, and cranky. However, what impressed, and imposed on us as we were sat there, is how happy Darina, and her team were. There was no fuss, and they were ready to get going when the time come. They certainly, gave a fantastic impression of Ukraine, and it's citizens. Friendly, warm and polite.
Needless to say six, and a half hours had come and gone, and we were finally off, and heading to Minsk our home for the next 8 days. Getting through the airport was fairly easy, with security warmly welcoming all through the gates. Wasn't long before we were off on a 45 minute taxi drive to our hotel in the middle of the city.
What did strike us is how cheap the taxi was, considering the large distance that he travelled. It was straight forward, and fuss free. Tomorrow we will brave the bus, or the train to the Minsk arena. However expect a delay in tomorrow's blog as it is likely we would have gotten lost, and be in some remote Russian village somewhere.
As the taxi goes through the city, all that can be said from both of us is "Wow". It's bright, modern, and vibrant. It certainly went above, and beyond what we thought it would be like. It puts most western cities to shame in our humble opinion. In fact it is a little overwhelming, where do we start? We can't wait to show it off, and explore.
Jess being an Honorary Welsh Girl for a week
We arrive at our hotel, and again mesmorised by how trendy, and classy it is. We have done alright so far, and feel this beautiful city will please, and give our experience of reporting on the Junior Eurovision that extra bit of bite. Jess has gone all welsh on us, and will be an honorary member for a week at least, and Chris just brings that bit of home to the hotel room.
Tomorrow we register in the press centre, find our feet, and get ready for a week of hard work, interviewing, reviewing the performers, and giving you our live opinions on the ground.
Bed calls, and a poorly dubbed film beckons on the TV. Stay tuned for day two tomorrow. Hopefully, it wont be as eventful as today, but it'll be a start of a great week that will see Europe find a new Junior winner.
Do you have any tips for us? Please let us know in the comments below and make sure to follow our journey in Minsk over the week as we bring you exclusive blog content, interviews and Junior Eurovision rehearsal updates!