Read about how England fan Joe Bass is travelling solo across Russia in the World Cup

England fan Joe Bass from Newark provides his first update from Russia in our latest fan diary piece...

Saturday 16 Jun 2018
Joe has worked his way from Moscow to Volgograd ahead of England's opener with Tunisia on Monday

I have followed England since I was 17, but it was only later in life at 51, when I started to attend tournaments.

I could never before afford it on a window cleaner's income, and having a mortgage and two kids.

But once I had shaken off those shackles, I was free to fly. South Africa was my first tournament, and, being a hopeless optimist, I got tickets all the way to the final.

The team stuttered and fell out of the sky. I was gutted. But it was too late, I was hooked and couldn't wait for the next tournament, despite a few scares, including being surrounded by hungry baboons while out cycling just outside Cape Town. I had loved it all.

Ukraine was the next tournament and I was treated like a king by gold-toothed miners at Donetsk.

Then Brazil and another blow. It didn't help that someone had cloned my card and £2000 vanished into the electronic ether, leaving £1.45 in my account with two weeks left and then returning to London to find my car had also vanished without trace.

But there were good times too. Once I got hopelessly lost in a favela in Rio and was almost taken by the hand by locals to be shown a way out.

The security at the first FIFA Fan Fest in Moscow had closed the entrances because it was so busy!

I travel cheap and light and alone. That way you're more approachable to locals. I doubt very much that family in Manaus would’ve invited me into their home for two days if I was in a group, when I was turned away from an over-booked hotel. (Or maybe they would have done.)

And so to Russia. I arrived at Moscow airport on Thursday with a few hours to kill and after finding the Fanfest only to learn it was over- crowded and they were letting no more people in, I did a bit of sight-seeing.

The centre of Moscow was spotless. Not a scrap of litter, a cobweb, a fag-end, a pigeon or a beggar in sight. Even the chewing gum had been pressure-washed away. It's as if Putin himself had been the supervisor.

When the match ended I shared the Metro with the Russian fans. Even though I had an England shirt on, I wasn't given a hurtful remark but they were friendly, showing me which station I needed to change at.

The next day in Volgograd, I got lost on the buses finding my hostel - I'm a master at getting lost, got an A-level in it.

But the whole bus got involved in getting me to my address. They couldn't do enough for me. One guy even got on the bus to show me where to get off. So much for the Ubers hiding behind every bush!

The Fanfest at Volgograd is the best I've ever been to. The backdrop of the Volga is stunning and I can't wait to do some exploring.

It's been a lovely welcome in Russia so far.

The Mother of all Monuments is next. If there's something Russia is good for on holiday then it's monuments…

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By Joe Bass England fan in Volgograd, Russia