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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 May, 2005, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Reporter's log: Eurovision
By Michael Osborn
BBC News entertainment reporter in Kiev

Musicians from 39 countries gathered in Kiev for the 50th Eurovision Song Contest. The BBC's Michael Osborn reports from the Ukrainian capital on the atmosphere from the world's biggest musical event.

SUNDAY 22 MAY 1300 LOCAL TIME (1100 BST)

It's a serious case of the morning after the night before in the Ukrainian capital.

Eurovision is all over for another year, and there are clear signs that the party has finished.

Independence Square, Kiev
The scene in Kiev's Independence Square on Saturday
There is nothing more than a relaxed hum in the press centre, and the canteen has closed for business already.

They're playing Depeche Mode now - not all this year's Eurovision entries on a continuous loop.

Walking through Kiev at daybreak, it was clear that the Ukrainians were winding down the celebrations too.

The crowds in Independence Square had been replaced by an army of rubbish collectors, while there was a strong tang of sour beer in the air.

The evening's excitement kicked off earlier with a seemingly ordinary meal at one of Kiev's Irish bars with a clutch of fellow journalists.

Our walk to the bar gave us a taste of the electric atmosphere in the jam-packed square.

Then we were made an offer which was impossible to turn down - tickets to be part of the audience at the live Eurovision final.

A group of Irish fans had decided there was not much point going to watch when their country was no longer in the reckoning.

It seems the luck of the Irish smiled on us, which resulted in a strangely unforgettable experience.

As the voting drew to a close, our thoughts turned to why the UK had failed to impress yet again.

We decided it was because our attitude to Eurovision is cool and distant.

Let's hope that by the time Eurovision 2006 comes around, we will have had a long, hard think about what has gone so wrong.

FRIDAY 20 MAY 1700 LOCAL TIME (1500 BST)

I was sitting in the press centre minding my own business and was gently persuaded to interview Israeli singer Shiri Maymon, who made an entrance in sunglasses with a small entourage.

"I was surprised that I got through, but it feels good," said the semi-final qualifier.

Ms Maymon's powerful ballad will be sandwiched between up-tempo and folk-flavoured songs in the grand final, which could work in her favour.

The performer added that with only Malta fielding a slower number, the two countries have only one another for competition.

The UK might not be the only country which feels hard done by with Eurovision voting, according to Ms Maymon.

"Israel has suffered from political voting in the past few years, and we hope it's not going to happen this year," she said.

Switzerland and Norway are the Israeli's favourite songs, but she has yet to see Javine's performance.

During the interview a mini media scrum developed. It was quite nice to have got the ball rolling.

FRIDAY 20 MAY 1200 LOCAL TIME (1000BST)

Belarus fan
A Belarus fan reacts to his country's exit

The wet weather in Kiev seems to be reflecting the mood of last night's unsuccessful semi-finalists.

Ireland, Eurovision champions of all time, couldn't even make it into the premiership this year.

A few dejected Irish supporters were being interviewed in the lobby of my hotel, while a number of Finns looked like they were heading home this morning.

And the exit of highly favoured Iceland caused a number of Eurovision pundits in the press centre to gasp.

Texts from back home suggest that Moldova's zany drumming grandmother was the big favourite with UK voters.

But the wet weather hasn't put a dampener on the Ukrainian capital - flag sellers on the edges of Independence Square offer all the competing nations, plus the likes of Brazil and Iraq for good measure.

I nearly bought a Union Jack, but then found my allegiances wavering. This Eurovision business can do strange things to your sense of national identity.

THURSDAY 19 MAY 1630 LOCAL TIME (1430BST)

There's a buzz in the air ahead of tonight's semi-final, and the party seems to be getting started under the blistering summer sun of Ukraine.

Kiev rooftop
Eurovision has descended on one of the former USSR's largest cities

But away from planet Eurovision, the people of Kiev seem be going about their business as usual.

I ventured out on to the streets and took the city's metro. With doors that can cut a reporter in half and nothing but good fortune to cling onto, it's not for the faint-hearted.

I headed out to Eurovision's very own campsite, a tent city on an island in the Dnipro river.

It was a real slog to get there and I've caught an unnaturally healthy colour on my nose and cheeks. I'll stick to my hotel, thank you.

On the way back to the Sports Palace I saw a stern statue of Lenin looking out on to Kiev's main thoroughfare.

He wouldn't be a happy man if he knew the Eurovision Song Contest had finally made it to one of the Soviet Union's biggest cities.

Earlier in the womb-like press centre, there was a sudden media scrum.

I expected it was one of the singers an appearance, but it was a man I didn't recognise - and there wasn't a sequin in sight.

Apparently it was a very famous Ukrainian footballer. It seems everyone wants a slice of the Eurovision action.

THURSDAY 19 MAY 1015 LOCAL TIME (0815BST)

I decided to skip the bus ride to the Sports Palace and took a walk through the heart of a warm, sunny Kiev.

The city cut an impressive sight with glinting gold-topped monuments and wide, tree-lined boulevards.

Over a breakfast of sweaty cheese I turned my thoughts to the evening's semi-final.

After a sneak glimpse of the show last night, the usual Eurovision mix of showy performances, glittery frocks and gimmicks is in store.

Lenin statue in Kiev
A statue of Lenin looks out over Kiev's main thoroughfare
My advice is to keep your eyes peeled for the Belarusian entry, while Moldova and Romania have also pulled out all the stops to tickle the fancy of voters.

A journalist from Ireland persuaded me the night was still young, and we went to check out Euroclub, a huge venue devoted to Eurovision partying.

There was a Mediterranean love-in going on, with the Greek, Cypriot and Maltese hopefuls doing a lively turn on a raised platform. It got really crowded as the Ukrainian group joined the fray.

But the strangest spot so far was the lead singer of Norway's glam rock band careering around the hotel in what appeared to be a long pink dressing gown.

WEDNESDAY 18 MAY 2005 1930 LOCAL TIME (1730BST)

After a long, torturous journey to Kiev, I have finally landed on planet Eurovision.

The Ukrainian capital seems to be geared up for the occasion, with every other poster proclaiming the country's Eurovision slogan - Awakening.

The city is fast filling up with devotees from all corners of Europe, along with plenty more hard-bitten reporters who are being housed in a giant inflatable tent at the Sports Palace, the cavernous venue for Eurovision.

The hard-bitten fans take some beating. One man's mobile phone rang out with the opening refrain of Hungary's entry - and that wasn't the only one he had.

Eurovision
There is no escaping Eurovision fever in Kiev

Home for the next few days is a grand Soviet-era hotel overlooking Kiev's Independence Square.

The Orange Revolution was replaced with a big city centre concert with - you guessed it - a Eurovision theme.

It's going to be hard to live and breathe anything other than the song contest on this trip east.




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