They say that Eurovision not a sprint, it's a marathon. How true that is. Nearly a week in Baku and the tiredness is starting to creep in. I've been pacing myself though and not been drinking all that much alcohol (it's true!) Quite a lot of people have been a bit iffy over the past few days, myself included, we aren't sure if it's the different food, the heat or the booze, or maybe a combination. A little tip if you're planning on coming to Baku - bring imodium with you!
Traffic in Baku is mad, and so are the drivers. The shuttle bus to the arena is definitely the easiest (and safest) option. Each bus leaves with a policeman (or someone in a uniform anyway) sitting with us for the journey. Every time I board, I'm asked where I'm from. It does seem that people here are genuinely interested and curious about the thousands of visitors to their country. I've found the locals to be really friendly and helpful despite some unscrupulous taxi drivers trying their luck!
There was drama during the day when a number of websites crashed after a series of cyber attacks. One of the biggest, ESCToday, remains offline. A bizarre picture was displayed and it turns out that it was an anti-gay group who were responsible and the source has been listed as Iran. It's pretty nasty stuff, the translation reads:
"What will gays bring to Azerbaijan? What will happen in Azerbaijani families after gay pride? There is no place for immoral gays in Azerbaijan. Leave our country. No place to stay in Azerbaijan for gays who look like animals. There is no place for evil in this country. We paint blue to red blood".
Personally I do not feel unsafe here and in those sorts of situations you just need to keep calm and carry on! Of course security is tight and there are lots of people in suits circling the arena but all these attacks did was to send the rumour mill into overdrive. If you put enough Eurovision fans/press together in the same room a story will appear from somewhere. Usually it's completely made up, sometimes it's not. One of the ones I heard was that there are secret police mingling in the crowds for our safety. Who knows? Let's hope for everyones' sake that this event passes off peacefully.
On a slightly cheerier note, the Georgian party took place in the Euroclub last night. I'm not a fan of red wine but given that the Georgians had invited us to sample their local wine I thought it would be rude not to! It was absolutely delicious! Alongside the wine and food, the Georgians treated us to shots of chacha, a strong "vine vodka". As is customary at many of these parties, our hosts also put on a show. Several acts took to the stage (Belarus, Malta) and of course Georgia's own Anri. All in all, a fine evening. Georgian parties don't disappoint and they are now becoming the highlight of the Eurovision party circuit.
The Georgian party in full-swing!