My third day in Ukraine — trams, subway and roads

The next day was Saturday, June 16, a working day for millions of Ukrainians. They worked for June 29 which was turned into a day off. The Thursday of June 28 is an official holiday in Ukraine (Constitution Day) and this swap turned June 28 - July 1 into a long weekend.

Ukrainian TramI was going to my friend’s office and I decided to take a tram. Trams are the cheapest way to travel around the city. The ticket costs 40 kopeyek (under 10 cents) and there is no limit on how far you can go on the same tram. Being the cheapest the trams are probably the most inconvenient type of transportation, challenged only by trolleybuses and buses.

When my tram arrived it was packed by people and I literally had to push my way into it. Trams go every 5-10 minutes during the morning rush hour. There are much less passengers during the days and the trams frequency goes down to 15-30 minutes depending on the line. All trams stop running around midnight, just as do trolleybuses and buses. But don’t count on that last tram to come at 12am, if you want to make sure to get into one, consider 11pm as your deadline. The schedule is very irregular during night time.

Ukrainian ChurchKharkiv is a very old city and has a lot of old buildings, beautiful and not so much. To the right is a very nice church I pass on the way from my house to the office.

The next picture is one of a ghostly building I walk by as I approach my destination. It looks abandoned with windows blown out and graffiti on the front door. As I spend more time around the city, I get an impression that rural areas are not getting nearly as much attention from the administration with some parts of the city clearly not safe to be at in the night time.

Ghostly building in KharkivThe best way to go around the city after sun set is by taxi which is relatively inexpensive in Kharkiv. It costs around 15-30 Grivnas (3-6 US$) to go around the city depending on how far you need to get to. There are several companies offering the service. The cab typically arrives within 15 minutes after you call. The further your destination is — the faster the cab arrives (a homework for you — try to figure out why ;-) ).

Kharkiv SubwaySubway is one of the fastest and safest ways to travel in Kharkov. The fare is only slightly higher (75 Kopeyek) but travel time is way less. All of the subway lines are deep underground and there are stations where you have to take a long-long escalator down to get to the train. The fare is good to travel anywhere, the transfers between the lines are free.

You can buy coins (each is good for one trip) or a multi-entry pass. I suggest using coins. The pass I purchased wasn’t working and there was no easy way to return or exchange it for a good one (I have to go to some place in the city that does these things, and I am not about to waste over an hour of my time to recover appx. $2 I lost).

Ukrainian RoadsOne more reason to take the subway whenever it is possible is also to avoid having to deal with the the terrible roads Kharkiv city is plagued with. I was told every mayer taking the office wows to fix the roads problem and every single once miserably fails. Possibly because the problem is simply too big for one mayer to solve. My guess is it will take many more years before the situation improves. The photo to the left is taken in the central city park and is very common where ever you go — by foot or by car.

This will be it for today. The next day brings us shopping and internet access. Hang on there!

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4 Responses to “My third day in Ukraine — trams, subway and roads”

  1. 1 Alex Jun 18th, 2007 at 9:38 am

    trams and buses are great, but when are you going to write about hot ukranian chix?

  2. 2 Yan Jun 19th, 2007 at 2:37 am

    Girls in the city wear the kind of dresses Americans will only put on for some sort of a party or TV show. Women never go out w/o a make up. Many wear high heels. This is a sort of a paradox to me. How a nation so poor can spend so much on dressing up in style? Buying shoes for $100 on a $500 monthly salary is not unheard of among my friends here in Ukraine.

  3. 3 Alex Jun 19th, 2007 at 11:45 am

    I know, I know… :( I guess I look at it from a different perspective – investment is looked at as something you should be aware of. I don’t blame them – 90’s wiped out my parents savings and lots of my friends bacame victims of shady investment schemes… So, when you have some extra income you spend it. Shoes, fur coats, German cars – whatever you like.

    A firend of mine here in Minnesota is from Kiev, he told me about some “magic” savings accounts with 15% APR and he insists you can have euros or dollars in this account as well. Sounds too good to be true – did you hear anything about this?

  4. 4 Yan Jun 19th, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    What you say happened to my parents. Now they live in countryside, have a small farm (because it helps them save on food), and have $100 a month pension for two. A very sad story.

    15% APR in Hryvnas and 10% in US$ is typical for a savings account in Ukraine. Economy is booming here. Property prices double every 2-3 years. I will try to cover banking and finances in one of my future posts.

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