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Published: June 21st 2017
Geo: 50.4536, 30.5038
Sitting at Rostov station on Tuesday night waiting for my train to Kiev I noticed a screen that seemed, based on my knowledge of the Russian Railways website, to be showing availability of places in different sections of the train. Now remember the people in Vladikavkaz had told me there was only space in 4 berth compartments, this screen seemed to be telling me different. So with help from Google translate i arranged an upgrade and actually got the whole thing to myself - luxury. Makes you wonder if they were right about no availability on the Wednesday train, but no matter - a 3 hour walk had exhausted the tourism potential of Rostov anyway.
Ukraine is a much bigger country than I imagined, we crossed the border about 1.30 am and had another 14 hours or so to Kiev (and Lviv is another eight hours to the west)
Clearly lots and lots of agriculture, no big cities until Kiev, some towns but mostly villages.
But I was gobsmacked on arrival in Kiev, a huge station heaving with people - Ukrainians clearly travel by train.
Despite that there was only one machine for collecting tickets bought on the Internet, and that was broken, and the nearby ticket window for collecting such things was closed for a break. At which point a young man with excellent English, training to be a. military translator, decided to help, he took me across the station to the other Internet window, waited in the queue for me, asked questions about the Timetable for me, told me where to put what on the bits of paper the girl kept giving me, checked my tickets, took me outside to help find a taxi, only to discover a thunderstorms in progress, phoned for a cab using his discount card, waited with me until the csb arrived! And all he had been at the station for was to get a ticket to his parents home in Lviv only to find no space - all booked for UEFA football fans.
Traffic in central Kiev seems to be 24 hour gridlock and it took ages to drive the few miles to the hotel, and I never saw a higher concentration of oligarch cars! But we kept passing these churches with beautiful golden domes (no not the same ones again and again - the driver was on a fixed price!). Very unprepossessing entrance to hotel (sunflower b#b) but lovely inside, hope Liz will be happy. She arrives tomorrow, Thursday. So, posting this, a few pics will follow later.
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