In the latest edition of The Peter Schmeichel Show, Peter checks out what Kaliningrad, the most westerly of the Russia 2018 World Cup host cities, offers for England fans, who travel there to watch The Three Lions play Belgium.
Kaliningrad is a Russian exclave nestled in between Lithuania and Poland on mainland Europe. The city will host four games at the Russia 2018 World Cup, including England’s final group G game against Belgium on June 24, at the brand-new, 35,000-seater Kaliningrad Stadium.
On the city’s idyllic sand dunes of the Curonian Spit by the Baltic Sea, Peter, a five-time Premier League winner with Man United, meets a five-time gold medalist in Natalia Ishchenko, who became one of Russia’s most decorated athletes in the sport's team and duet competition.
Now a World Cup 2018 ambassador for Kaliningrad, Natalia tells Peter a little about the Spit - Russia’s only UNESCO World Heritage site - before leading him to a more traditional mode of transport over the famous sand dunes: horseback.
After getting acquainted with his designated horse ‘Dima’, Peter takes a trip around Kaliningrad’s streets.
Kaliningrad's journey to World Cup host city begins in 1982 when, while still part of Germany, the Walter-Simon-Platz memorial was built as a multi-purpose sports stadium which later became Baltika Stadium. Now home to the city’s football team, Baltika Kaliningrad, the stadium is today the oldest in Russia.
For Russia 2018, a new stadium was built especially for the tournament. Modelled on Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena, the 35,000 Kaliningrad Stadium will host four World Cup group games, including England’s third Group G game with Belgium.
The state-of-the-art stadium, with its futuristic design, is a symbol of Kaliningrad’s modernisation. Its past Gothic style, inherited from its German and Prussian past, is also still visible today and perfectly embodied by its famous Königsberg Cathedral located on Kneiphof island. There, Peter joined a master craftsmen glassblower in an attempt to recreate some of his intricately designed souvenirs.
Although Peter himself - ever the perfectionist - is not too pleased with the fruits of his labours, local school children who gathered to watch give him a unanimous thumbs up and cheer.
Glass-blowing can make a man hungry and next up for Peter is playing the role of hunter-gatherer and finding supper, which allowed him to take part in one of his favourite pastimes - fishing.
The Great Danish goalkeeper proves he is not as adept at catching his lunch as he was at catching shots from the Premier League’s elite strikers. His attempts at pilfering a salmon as long as him arm span from the sea in reality turned out to be barely bigger than his hands.
Will England prove to be the catch of the day against the Belgian Red Devils when likely all will be to play for in their final group game? Or will Belgium rock the boat and leave the The Three Lions floundering until they eventually sink? Time will tell.