Away in a Manger…

9 Mar

It’s been some months since I’ve shared my thoughts on the upcoming spectacle that will be the Eurovision Song Contest 2012. In months past there’s been a flurry of activity around the Caspian Sea; beer sponsors appointed, mobile phone carriers gaining a monopoly, the Crystal Hall being built (and families being evicted to make way for said Hall)

This combined with the Armenians announcing this week that they won’t be participating – a demonstration of political brinkmanship – and we’ve got all the elements we love about Eurovision – politics, ridiculous amounts of money being spent and a wilful ignorance of anything nasty or untoward that participating countries might be doing to their people (or one’s nearby)

in the midst of all this, we’ve managed to secure tickets to the second semi-final – but that’s all we’ve managed to tie down. No flights from Istanbul to Baku yet because we’ve got no accommodation. We have no accommodation because the AZ got hasn’t managed to open the online booking system for the hotels – despite promises it would open on 1 March.

Through this, I’m beginning to get a sense of what it’s like to live in a country that has a govt with, shall we say, very strong influence over the press, immigration and business. Using my vast network of contacts (i.e. a guy my cousin knows) I’ve been able to ascertain that no-one in AZ has any idea when the hotel bookings will open. This includes the hotels themselves, they just know that if they try and sneak a few bookings in early, they’re liable for an 800 Euro fine – ouch!

Speaking of 800 Euro, that looks to be about the figure for a night’s accommodation in the charming Baku during the fest. Ok maybe not 800 but at least 240 for a 3 star hotel. Methinks not many Turks will be going, or Spanish, Portuguese, Italians or Greeks – in fact any country that’s in the financial poop might struggle to get citizens to attend.

As for we from the land of Oz. thank goodness our dollar is finally worth more than the usual few shiny trinkets…


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