Football fans are known for the extreme efforts they make to follow their teams, but few will have made a trip this week such as Chelsea supporters Jake Ralph and Kevin Cobb.
Jake, 27 and Kevin, 59, are die-hard fans and were desperately looking for their team in the Europa League final in Baku, Azerbaijan. But the official options were way too expensive for almost £ 1,000.
Instead, the father and son couple have decided to go their own way for the race on May 29 – with a route covering a whopping 5,571 kilometers along the route.
Chelsea's supporters of Arsenal have a shortage of options to get themselves to the final, with thousands of unsold tickets and even indirect flight options that cost more than £ 800.
The cheapest option currently available on SkyScanner.net is a £ 838 flight that leaves on Tuesday and returns on Thursday – with a stopover in Doha.
Father and son duo Kevin Cobb (left) and Jake Ralph make an incredible journey to Baku, including a 24-hour train journey
Jake and Kevin left a week before the Europa League final of Chelsea against Arsenal in Baku on Wednesday evening
The route that Jake and Kevin will take, starting with their flight from Stansted and ending in Baku on Monday
THE ROUTE TO BAKU
London Stansted to Istanbul (Tuesday evening) – by plane
Istanbul to Ankara (Wednesday evening) – by plane
Ankara to Kars (Thursday evening) – by train – 24-hour journey
Kars to Tsiblisi – by taxi
Tsiblisi to Baku (Sunday evening) – by train
The Cobbs left Tuesday evening from London Stansted and made the last flight to Istanbul. On Wednesday, they spent the day sightseeing in the Turkish capital before traveling to Ankara on a one-hour flight.
Then comes the most incredible period of the journey. They board the Dogu Expressi on Thursday evening in Ankara and travel all the way to Kars in eastern Turkey – a 24-hour journey with a length of 1310 kilometers.
They have booked sleeping carriages, with tickets that cost just £ 25 for the couple – half the amount that Jake would pay for a day pass to reach his job as insurer from his home in Hastings to Bromley every morning.
Weird is that the train journey has become a favorite for Turkish Instagram users – with local outlets that describe it as the & # 39; most hipster & # 39; domestic travel route.
Not that Jake and Kevin will think about that when they step into Kars, because they will immediately go to Tsiblisi in Georgia in taxis before spending the weekend there with other Chelsea fans.
They flew from London Stansted to Istanbul on Tuesday and spend sightseeing in the Turkish capital on Wednesday
But the most incredible aspect of the journey is the 24-hour train journey from Ankara to Kars – a 1310 km ride that costs £ 25
They will climb aboard the Dogu Expressi on Thursday evening and eventually leave when they arrive in Kars on Friday evening
A worker selling tickets on board the Dogu Expressi – Jake and Kevin bought the most expensive tickets for £ 25
On Thursday, the cheapest flights to the London final were over £ 838 – with a stop in Doha
They then travel overnight from the Georgian capital on a sleeper train before arriving in Baku on Monday morning, two days before the race.
When asked why they had decided to travel this way, Jake said Sportsmail: & # 39; Flying in and out of Baku was cruelly expensive, especially since Arsenal fans could jump on us and they had no extra time and punishment.
& # 39; But we wanted to make it a bit of an adventure after visiting Baku before using Thomas Cook and Chelsea. The last time we were in Baku, we only had about six hours, so we didn't get to see much – we thought this was a once in a lifetime trip!
& # 39; Fortunately we were able to take the extra time off, but so many guys who played 40-plus games this season just didn't make it.
It is possible to reserve a kebab for when the train stops in Erzurum, Turkey, between Ankara and Kars in the east.
& # 39; The most disappointing thing for us is that the club trip with Thomas Cook this time was almost £ 1,000 without a ticket. And this is the same month as the renewal of season tickets, which is also very expensive
& # 39; Arsenal has clearly released a statement in which they say how disappointed they are with the choice of location while we have nothing of Chelsea & # 39 ;.
When asked if Chelsea had dropped them somewhat, Jake replied: & # 39; Yes, 100 percent. They earn a fortune from these runs. Only a small percentage of subsidy or a good understanding of the costs of seasonal tickets at the same time would have meant a huge amount.
& # 39; So instead of paying £ 1,000 through Thomas Cook, we decided to do it independently and came up with our light-hearted journey.
The Eastern Express, which travels from Ankara to Kars, passes a slope in Kars, Turkey during the winter months
Part of the landscape that Jake and Kevin will see as the Dogu Expressi travels across the width of Turkey on the way to Kars
Heavy fog over the train – Jake and Kevin chose to travel independently instead of splashing out nearly £ 1,000
Jake said: & # 39; I don't think there are any ugly things in it – we are just excited to travel to the normal in an unusual way & # 39;
& # 39; We have saved a lot by doing it this way – with hotels and everything from probably around £ 500 each. It is a real shame that Chelsea and Arsenal fans will not make it. & # 39;
Although the train now has a reputation for hipster, there are still sharp edges. When the trip ends in Erzurum, it is possible to pick up a pre-ordered kebab from a local supplier.
Not that Jake is afraid of the nature of the trip: & # 39; It's a bit unknown to us! I don't think there are any ugly things in it – we're just excited to travel to normal in an unusual way.
& # 39; It would be a great experience. I don't think there are other fans taking the train route through Turkey.
Breakfast is served on the Dogu Expressi – Jake is convinced that this will be the most difficult game he will ever get
& # 39; My friend Holly absolutely thinks we're crazy. I will never find a game that is harder to play than this. That said, I didn't want to miss it.
& # 39; This is my 53rd game of the season and 677th game. My father has probably done twice as much. This is my 30th European away match & # 39 ;.
Both Jake and Kevin are unlikely to have a greater challenge to go to a game if they manage another 1,000.
Jake and Kevin hope that Eden Hazard and his teammates can win the final in Baku after the long journey they have made
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