My trip to Ukraine – trains and travel

Tea in ukrainian trainThe next destination of my trip is Kiev where I am visiting my cousin. Kiev is the capital and the biggest city in Ukraine. For the trip we decided to take a train - the most popular way of travel over here. Tickets are fairly cheap (around $10-20 one way) and not hard to get unless you travel to hot destinations (like Crimea in summer time).

A few notes on buying train tickets. You can’t get tickets over the phone or using the Internet, you have to do it by coming in person to the train station which is a huge nuisance if you buy in advance. Also, you will need to show passport for each traveler when you buy tickets and when you board the train. The rule is fairly lax however and any form of ID will do.

Train in UkraineThere is often a line of people at the station so be prepared to spend some time. Since the trains are owned and operated by the government there doesn’t seem to be any incentive to change the system. People who have money and want to avoid the wait have to find ways around it. The usual approach is to find a friend or relative of someone who works at the tickets booth and arrange a transaction privately. 10 Hryvnas ($2) in the passport usually do the magic.

Trains in Ukraine run on diesel except for local ones that use electricity. Most of them are fairly old and often dirty inside. Our train was a nice surprise. We took Kharkiv – Kiev “Express” which is a different kind. Unlike a usual train in Ukraine, “Express” is very clean, has friendly stuff, and LCD monitors where they run movies during the entire trip. I was later explained that similar “Express” trains run between all major cities. Tickets are twice as expensive but are well worth it.

Dogs at train station in UkraineI told you earlier about dogs in Ukraine. The dogs on the picture live at the train station and harass passers by. I counted a total of 9 dogs while waiting my train. One couple was attempting to engage in sex. Good my kids were not with me or I would have had difficult time explaining what the little doggy is doing. ;-)

I have recently learned that besides “dogs problem” Ukraine also has “cats problem”. My grand-mom complained to me on the phone that several cats visit her house every day and make mess in the backyard. And just as she said, as we came to visit her last week I saw 3 of these creatures sleeping on the yard fence.

Scenic view in UkraineUkraine is a beautiful country. The central part is flat and has very scenic views. I took this picture of sunflowers as we were leaving Kiev for my hometown. Karpati Mountains cover south-west. I never went there but my friends tell me the area is very nice as well. Crimea Peninsula is the southern part of Ukraine. Crimea has sub-tropical climate and is a popular vacation destination among Ukrainians and Russians.

My next blog post will be about Kiev, the city of churches and construction sites. Until then, hang on over there!

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4 Responses to “My trip to Ukraine – trains and travel”

  1. 1 Dean Jul 16th, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    Wow, the country side looks beautiful. I recently got my first passport and can’t wait to do some international traveling myself.

  2. 2 Jerri Jul 18th, 2007 at 5:31 am

    It looks like a beautiful country. Can’t wait to hear about Kiev.

  3. 3 Frank Nov 27th, 2009 at 11:17 am

    I looked through your Ukraine travelreports and want to correct or update the following:
    Kiev is not the only International Airport in Ukraine. You have daily flights to Vienna and other Europeaen destinations from Odesa, Kharkiv, and Lvov. During 2009 I never had to show a passport or anything like it to buy a railwayticket.

  4. 4 Jack May 11th, 2010 at 2:22 am

    Agree, beautiful country and services are cheap :)

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