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Random musings from Mike (reporting for ESCKAZ.com) - now it's official

Waiting for the “Family” show for the Grand Final to start in the press centre with some spare time - not sure how that happened - I thought I might write a few random musings on the whole Eurovision Bubble so far this year.

This year was always going to be an important one for me - I’d had such an awful time in Lisbon in the Eurovision bubble - so it was always going to be a make or break year for me and it was with some trepidation that Daniel and I planned on coming, for personal not political reasons. It was a real tough choice, but what finally made up my mind was that I did not want the bad memories of Lisbon to be possibly the last Eurovision memories I had…

Anyway with all that in mind, flights were booked, Airbnb was booked, the bank balance was destroyed with buying tickets and the countdown began. There were still times over the previous few months when we were going to cancel the whole thing: when the enjoyment has dipped is it time to call it a day? Would we regret not coming? Was I just being a tad paranoid? Even three days before leaving for Tel Aviv we were about to cancel....what a messed up head space!

Still we got on the plane, we arrived and while it’s been mixed for sure, overall it has been a positive experience so far, meeting old friends and mixing with delegations that we admire, respect and call friends these days… And overall it has reaffirmed that we still love Eurovision, and still want more...

On Israel in general:
OK politics aside, the people here are pretty much wonderful. No one has shown us the alleged “rude” side of Israelis; no one has been unhelpful; the volunteers in the press centre have been amazing; the press centre worked; and nothing is too much trouble. This is a 10/10. And Tel Aviv is a great city too. It’s not our first time here so this time it’s been a little rushed and we have not really done any tourist stuff, but the beaches and sunsets are to die for. So if you are coming as a tourist it’s perfect. Maybe it’s a little on the expensive side, but just perfect. We are even thinking we may come back in August for our annual beach holiday but that's something to think about once we get home.

On Jerusalem:
A visit to this iconic place has always been on my bucket list, and Daniel and I were not disappointed in any way. The churches, the history, the Western Wall and just the general ambiance of the city made a lot of things melt away in my head and I found some real inner peace there. Being an atheist this was surprising - but not in a bad way. I totally get why this place arouses such passions in people and probably will for all eternity - another 10/10. I would have loved to spend a week here visiting the many historical sites - previous Eurovision venues not included - but the day taster we had was just pure joy. The two sites that were a must stop for us met every expectation - cannot wait to return one day.

On the press pack:
Most of my bad experiences in Lisbon were related to the press side of how Eurovision works - the dramas, the backbiting, the naked ambition of people who really need to think about whether this is a business or a hobby, the sheer rudeness of some of them, and the total disrespect for people who work damn hard year in year out just because they love Eurovision.

This year though a lot of that vanished in a puff of smoke. Of course there are still lots of issues in the Eurovision press world but they have been a lot better this year, although that may be because I’ve not tried to compete this year with “younger and better” fanatics. What's the point as most of them are doing exactly the same thing I did ten years ago, just much more professionally. It’s quite funny though how when we do a new thing on ESCKAZ.com there is a rush to copy and do the same thing. Eurovision needs new ideas: the tired, stale Rehearsal/Press Conference/Interview style of reporting needs updating or else the view buying will continue, the like buying will continue and the whole merry circus will go around and around.

All that said though, I’m happy that this is my last year doing Eurovision this way. Obviously there are lots of ways to experience Eurovision - but after 16 years with accreditation, including ten years with ESCKAZ.com and four years with our own blog before that, it’s time to reflect and move in a different direction. So yep, the rumours are true - no more Mike from ESCKAZ.com.

On my boss:
Andy Mikheev probably knows me best in the Eurovision world, aside from Daniel. I will always count him as a great friend - one who I can totally confide in and confer with. He respects me, I respect him, and even though we fight like cats in an alleyway at times, that dynamic has, over the years, produced some amazing work. Our best moments have been when we had no staff, 15 events to cover, no equipment, and dead on our feet, but we still brought the news first. Dusseldorf to Vienna was our peak, and - of the recent Eurovisions - Baku will be one that I will always hold dear. I'd love a contest back there.

Andy is a fantastic person to work for. Yes I want to kill him at times, but his passion, his professionalism and his attention to detail has carried the site to heights that we could never have imagined in 2008/9. I would recommend anyone to step into my shoes: it's a killer workload, but will bring you great memories.

On ESCKAZ.com:
What an amazing ride this has been for the last ten years. Super highs and super lows - and mostly the lows got cancelled out by the highs. There are far more moments than I can possibly list over the years but ones that spring to mind are Jedward, Bonnie Tyler, all of the big Russian superstars - Sergey, Polina, Fillipe - and many, many others besides. The Red Carpets were hell on earth but we had some amazing moments there too, the parties, the friends we made, the friends we lost ( :-/ ) and most of all the winners from each corner of Europe have made it very, very special.

OMG I’m gonna cry

It’s been a blast - it’s been hell - but most of all it’s been a very, very special time for both of us.

And so it’s onwards and upwards to the next stage of Eurovision - Junior in November? The host city for Adult next year? Who knows? But thanks for everything - we won't be gone but we may fade away into the background.

Much love to you all

Oh, AND THE CHAIN SMOKING!!! Always the chain smoking