|Lithuania 0-1 England. LFF stadionas.|
Katie had never been to any of our three destination countries before, nor been to an England game - an away match in Vilnius is as glamorous a start as you can get - while I was looking forward to actually seeing some of Tallinn this time, having famously been so hungover on our 2014 visit that I slept through the entire Estonia v England game in my hostel.
Firstly, we had to get there though which Ryanair were seemingly determined to make as difficult as possible. A spectacular cock up from the budget airline meant that they were having to cancel 2,000 flights over October and November due to a lack of pilots. Somehow, ours was one that escaped the cull and so there was deep joy when we touched down in Tallinn against all the odds.
|Alexander Nevsky Cathedral|
|Tallinn Old Town from the top of Toompea Hill was a fantastic view|
While outing yourself as a possible homosexual while abroad with your girlfriend isn't an ideal turn of events, it could have been much worse given I'd been raving about the local beer beforehand. Luckily, I never referred to it by name, otherwise telling her "I love Le Coq" along with the fact I had a great time alone in a gay bar might well have bought a premature end to the trip.
|Pint of Coq in the Bear Bar|
|Bear, elk, wild boar - the medeival banquet|
|Labor - when will the lesson be learnt that any shot coming in|
a test tube isn't going to be good?
|Kadriog Stadium, home of the nine times Estonian champions|
|Classic Eastern European Stadium|
If there was one part of the trip that was being approached with something akin to dread, it was the overnight bus. Katie likes to get a good night's sleep and how much sleep you can get in eight hours between Tallinn and Vilnius is debatable.
|"Strictly no alcohol is allowed on the bus"|
|Welcome to wet and windy Vilnius|
Mark in particular was having a good time of it, a root canal tooth probem meaning he was on antibiotics and had been unable to drink on the trip so far. Within 10 minutes of our arrival, we'd driven him to take up a strong local beer and within a pint of that he was absolutely hammered, which provided probably the best entertainment of the day given how dire the football would turn out to be.
The normal rules of engagement on a match day are visit several pubs and see the city. Given the fact that it was more miserable than the Tory Party Conference outside, that went out the window as we stayed within the shelter of Artistai until 30 minutes before kick off. Some of us were even hoping the game would be called off due to a waterlogged pitch. That was pretty unlikely given that the pitch is artificial, but nothing would surprise me any more after that debacle in Poland five years ago of a waterlogged pitch in a stadium with a retractable roof. Unfortunately, there was no failure of Eastern European technology this time and so we had to make the 20 minute walk to LFF stadionas.
|LFF stadionas in all her glory|
|Ku Klux Klan (a)|
"Scott, this isn't what I imagined watching England would be like", Katie turned to me midway through the first half and said. And she had a point. When you are used to watching the Three Lions on television from Wembley or in huge stadiums at big tournaments, then LFF stadionas will come as a bit of a shock.
|The cover included trees|
While the home end had cover and alcohol, the away end had ponchos and tea. Stewards on the turnstiles were handing out green and yellow ponchos and with every single person in the ground wearing them, it looked like the Ku Klux Klan were holding a rally in their away kit. There might have been no beer in the away stand but at one end of the tents selling refreshments, you could pick up a 'sweet tea'.
|1-0 England and time for the flare|
Harry Kane got the only goal in front of the away fans in the first half from the penalty spot, a goal that was greeted with a flare going off. The owner of said flare rather boldly let it off before Kane had even struck the ball which led to some regret that Kane actually scored it given that a miss followed by a bloke wondering what the hell to do with his lit flare would have been fantastic.
Actually, it would have been the highlight of the game as nothing else happened. Jack Butland made one save of note and even that was from his own defender Michael Keane. Large swathes of the England support left at half time seeking the solace of beer, warmth and Baltics special garlic bread and you couldn't really blame them. It was a typical performance under Gareth Southgate for England - dull, pedestrian and lifeless but it got the job done, even if Lithuania were arguably the better side. Had they have had a striker, it could have been an embarassing result for the Three Lions.
|Thank God that game is over...|
We on the other hand had a bed for the night and an 8am coach onwards to country number three of the trip, Latvia. That was a mere four hour journey, giving us enough time to have a look around Riga's old town, eat some traditional Latvian meatballs and experience some Latvian beer.
|Country number theee - Latvia|
|Yes, that is a monkey in a space suit;|
no, no idea either
That night it was homeward bound from Riga to Stansted on another surprisingly successful Ryanair flight, which brought to an end our Baltics tour and Katie's first ever England game. So, did she enjoy it? She did, which is great news given her birthday in March coincides with the Netherlands away.
Amsterdam, here we come.
Lithuania: Erenstas Setkus, Valdemaras Borovskis, Linas Klimavicius, Edvinas Girdvainas, Vytautas Andriuskevicius, Arturas Zulpa, Arvydas Novikovas, Ovidijus Verbickas, Fedor Cernych, Vykintas Slivka (Karolis Chvedukas), Darvydas Sernas (Deivydas Matulevicius).
England: Jack Butland, Michael Kane, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Kieran Trippier, Jordan Henderson, Harry Winks, Aaron Cresswell, Michael Rashford (Daniel Sturridge), Dele Alli (Jesse Lingard), Harry Kane 1.