Well, I’ve finally made it to Kiev. The trip here was quite eventful. Tuesday morning I went into town (Chisinau) and had lunch with Ciprian and Stela, then made my way to the bus station. After the train into Romania, I tend to prefer busses. Well that was a mistake.
Just one bus daily leaves for Kiev, and it so happened that I had to wait about 8 hours for it. I bought my ticket and wandered around the massive, sprawling market in Centrala Piata. That didn’t last long, with the giant backpack I had to lug around, so I headed for Gara Nord, the bus station with most of the international transportation. I waited and waited and waited, mostly reading my Enron book, until about 2000 (the bus was sheduled to arrive at 2130). I met an interesting fellow named Radu – the third Radu I met that week – and we talked for about an hour. The bus was only half an hour late, and after boarding I promptly fell asleep. For about an hour.
I was awoken by the stench of burning…I don’t know, bus. Yes, it broke down just outside of Ukraine in the middle of the night. For three hours we waited in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere. Public transportation in Eastern Europe is barely acceptable at best. At worst it’s a damn nightmare. Our backup finally arrived and we were off to Ukraine again.
I arrived in Kiev incredibly tired and disoriented and without a single idea of what I was going to do next. I randomly picked a hostel on the HostelWorld app, and then took a gypsy cab about 4km into town. I wish I didn’t have to take a gypsy cab, but I didn’t see any registered ones, and I wasn’t about to attempt to desipher the tram schedule and routes. After getting ripped off to the tune of 200 Hryvnia (an acceptable fee in most countries – not here) I booked a bed in the Kiev Central Station Hostel and had myself yet another glorious shower.
I met Kalyna back in the room, a Canadian girl whose grandparents are from Ukraine. So she convenienly speaks the language fluently. We got some kebabs for lunch around the block, then decided to go to the Island, which has a lovely park called Hidropark. Another gentleman from the hostel had joined us for the stroll. He is from south France, and is just in Kiev until he received his accreditations to photograph the front lines of the conflict in the east. The three of us walked around for a few hours, then enjoyed a few beers on the beach. Kalyna had to leave to meet some of her family that still lives here (her uncle apparently is the Canadian ambassador in Kiev) and I returned to the hostel. Soon I will meet up with Julia’s friend for dinner.
Thus begins my week-long adventure in Kiev!