lundi 19 août 2013

Kiev or Lviv? Kiev!

-Where are you going?
I was a bit surprised to hear someone speak to me in french, as I had had difficulties making myself understood in english from the staff of the train stration, and it took me few seconds to actually process that I wasn't being spoken to in english but in my own language.
- Well you need to change... you need to go in another wagon, this one will stop at the border ok?

His french was hesitant but good, and we thanked him vigurously, as we felt the eyes of other passengers on us. Apparently few travellers chose the option of a  22hours trainride to rejoin Kiev from Budapest. 
Or should I say... What is supposed to be a 22hours journey. Because it ended being way longer for us.

I've always thought that trains had this special feeling, this romantic, nostalgic charming touch, especially trains in India or Eastern Europe. They just don't feel the same as french trains. It is naturally and very enthusiastically then that I decided we would go to Kiev by train. 
I couldn't find many informations or details online, only that it was cheap long and that there was a train leaving everyday around 6pm.
We bought our tickets the very day in one of Budapest two train stations, I can't remember the name I'm sorry.
On the different wagons were written either Russian railways, Moscow or some unknown names but no Kiev. We couldn't book bunks ( for some unknown reason) so jumped in one of the sitting car, and that's right where we were told that we would have to get out and change car at the border.

You'd think you'd feel a bit anxious or worried in such a situation, not actually sure where you're going, with nobody speaking english around you, and small but crucial detail, absolutely no money in the currency of your country of destination. But I didn't feel worried at all. Actually people were all so lovely and sweet, willing to help us that it was impossible to feel anxious. The lady from the staff, explained us using a lot of hand gestures and a few words when to get out and where to go.

When we arrived at the border, it was nighttime already and we were pretty tired but excited, finally we were entering Ukraine! 
Little did we know that if yes, we were entering Ukraine, we were definitely not reaching Kiev..
We ended up, somehow, how I don't know, missing our train. At the time of departure we were on the good track but eh, there was no train anymore!
Fortunately, two really nice men helped us. One of them actually took us to the track, carrying my suitcase ( for some reason people always carry my suitcase, I blame my fragile&weak look), but he couldn't speak any other language but ukrainian. Fortunately again, I speak german and understand it pretty well, which was really useful at that time, since the only person that could communicate with us was this sweet young guy, speaking german and russian.
Hop we were into this train, that would take us to Lviv, from where we could take another train to Kiev.
At that point we were tired but not too tired, at least I wasn't. The journey took about 6hours. 6hours out of time, out of space, in the ukrainian countryside, in a crowded train, full of people who clearly had never seen foreigners at that time, in this train. I don't think I can explain how moving and unreal it felt, how sweet people were, how amazing it is to exchange with people without being able to understand each other's language, how eyes opening it is to witness the differences between their lives and ours. This train ride is for me, one of the most beautiful highlights of that trip.

We arrived in Lviv, where an adorable young girl took us to the center of the town. She paid for our bus tickets, invisible ones. Let me explain this. This bus didn't have any bus stop nor tickets. You would get off and on anytime you wanted, and when entering you just had to throw your money on the floor, on a very old&dirty carpet next to the driver and take a seat.
We were told by everyone that we would be able to find a train the same day around 6pm, but after a short visit of the town, after having made our way to the train station, we were told "next train tomorrow morning 5:50am".
We ended up spending the night in the airport, eventhough we didn't take the plane. That was, just to remind you, the second night without sleeping.

At 3am, we took a cab to reach the main station, waited for 2hours and finally could take the train that would lead us to Kiev. At that point I was pretty sick, and pretty tired. After a 4hours journey, we arrived in Kiev, but that ... will be in another post guys!

Have you ever had such a delay or some adventures on the road due to public transports?
Let me know, I'm sure you have!

5 commentaires:

  1. Aw, I love all these mini-videos you made! Such a cute idea to go in a post.

    1. They're awesome right?
      I use an app called Road Movies to create them! It's available only for Iphone for now unfortunately .. And I don't have an Iphone so when my friends aren't around no videos for me...
      Friends from Taiwan that I met through couchsurfing introduced it to me!

  2. I'm from Ukraine and its very interesting how you see my country. Hope you like it))

  3. Love the mini videos!
    Makes me want to be back in Poland :( sadly I have to wait till March to go to Krakow...
    I am writing down that app :P Will use it for my travels!

  4. It was the middle of the night in Barcelona. We had just caught the last train to what we though would be our hotel in Santa Susanna 2hrs away. I and my three friends, tried from our day of sight seeing and having ate a big dinner, rested on the express train. An Hour later it stopped, little did we know that the trains there don't have a Train docking area and instead just line up on the tracks. So we were stranded and the station had maps we couldn't understand, but then we went outside and got a Taxi, which cost us a bit. Even then as we were so sleepy, the driver took us to the wrong hotel with a similar name haha. Also the first day we got there, the coach driver didn't tell us to take our bags ( yep we are naive). So it left with all our luggage after we had got off at the hotel. We had to chase that too with a Taxi.