When Northern Ireland qualified for the knock out stages of Euro 2016, Stuart Blair was determined to get to France to enjoy the party… even if it meant travelling to Paris via Lithuania on his own.
Having got his hands on a ticket for the match, Stuart set about planning his route to Paris. This is where things got a little unconventional.
Always one for a bargain, Stuart found a way of getting to Paris for £360 including his match ticket.
He’ll be flying from Belfast International to Vilnius on Friday evening, arriving there just after midnight. Then he has a six hour wait in the Lithuanian capital before jetting into Paris on Saturday at 8.25am where he’ll meet up with friends who have been there since the group stages.
Rather fittingly Stuart’s madcap adventure to get to the Paris started out by leaving Paris (his very understanding girlfriend).
Ahead of his departure from Belfast, Stuart said: “I will arrive in Lithuania at midnight and have six hours there until my flight to Paris at 6am. I’ve never been to Lithuania before so I’m hopeful the airport is close to somewhere I could eat or drink. If not, I may try to sleep for a few hours.
“Once I had the ticket to the match it was actually very difficult to find an affordable way to Paris. Hence the strange route I am taking. I’ll be delighted if others have taken the same route. Will make the six hour stop over much more enjoyable.”
We hope his eternal optimism will be rewarded with company of the GAWA variety. We also hope his match prediction comes true.
“I absolutely think we can beat Wales,” he said. “I think it is a brilliant draw for the GAWA. The hard work in keeping the goal difference good paid off and now we have a fantastic chance of getting through to the quarters.”
So if Northern Ireland beat Wales will Stuart be staying in France for the quarter final?
“If we beat Wales I don’t have a guaranteed way home so I might have to stay!”
He added: “I have been on some pretty good adventures before but when the opportunity arose to see NI play in the knock stages of the Euros I had to go the extra mile to try and get there.”