Riding the train is something my team and I did a LOT of during the summer of 2008. When we went to a new town/city, some part of our journey to or from the city would include being dropped off at the train station, riding the train, and/or being picked up at the train station. Sometimes Cliff would drive us, but most of the time, we rode the train.
I really enjoyed the train rides, and still do. There's just something about being in a compartment with friends and/or strangers, talking, maybe playing cards, looking out the window and enjoying the fresh air, and sleeping on narrow bunks -- which outweighs the stuffiness, the chance of traveling with smelly men or drunk people, and the toilet you have to hover over.
During these summer train rides, when the sun hadn't set by 9 pm, I enjoyed looking out the window at the scenery. Sometimes the scenery was only a forest, but other times you got glimpses of village life. Old people might be herding their cows or sheep in the grassy area near the tracks. Seeing small garden plots, people walking down the road, and small settlements were all just so serene and peaceful compared to life in the city.
|Unknown village and river in Ukraine, 2008|
1. Arrive at the station 30 minutes before your train departs, to find the correct track, wagon, and place. Otherwise one of your traveling companions might have to pull the emergency "стоп кран" lever.
|Wagon #2 of the Odesa-Kiev train (#124)|
|Coupe with under-bench storage area visible|
|Our group going to Chernivtsi in January 2010|
5. You may need the wool blanket provided, sometimes even when the weather's nice outside.
|Wool blankets on shelf, reading light, and bedrolls on the top bunk|
|The storage area is in the background above the doorway, and you can also see coathooks and hand rails.|
8. In the morning, about 30-60 minutes before arriving at your destination, the conductor might come by and wake you up. Otherwise, you need to un-make your bed, roll up the mattress, and pack up your things. When you return your sheets to the conductor, he/she will return your voided tickets.
|Odesa Train Station, early in the morning -- 2009|
*Sometimes you might need to change trains part of the way through your journey. Sometimes, that means you sit at a train station from 3 am to 8 am, dozing off while trying to keep an eye on your group's luggage.
|Waiting area -- "bufet" -- in the train station|
|Zhmerinka, 2008, where we stayed for 5 hours one night.|
Last week, despite the logistics of getting to the train station after our Parent Teacher Fellowship, and the logistics of getting to school on time on Monday morning, our train travels were uneventful! Having women coupe-mates both trips (especially since this was Amy's first time traveling via overnight train) was definitely a blessing from God! I can't wait for more train rides across Ukraine this year! :)