Sunday, 8 July 2018

Not that White City; the Ukrainian one!

I left off the last post just as the train was pulling into the sonorous sounding city of Bilhorod-Dnistrovs'kyi - literally 'White city on the Dniester'. The couchette lady had handed me down the extremely high steps, and there I was standing on the railway lines. No panic, nearby there was a group of gentlemen gathered on the lines having a beer and smoke.

A few people got off the train and they looked beach ready. As it was only around midday I wondered whether I would regretting not bringing swimming stuff. I followed people into the station to check out timetables. As you can see, they were as clear as mud. After previous experience with Russian trains, I know you had to be bang on time to leap aboard. I kept in mind that there was a bus option and decided not to panic.

Ukrainian Train Journeys and other Distractions

One could really get used to travelling in a civilised way; a calm leave-taking of my apartment*, a cheap taxi to a quiet airport, good coffee and no security queues. Not that all of my journeys begin this calmly. Take my trip to Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi last weekend for instance. My Airbnb hosts had already warned me against train and bus travel, etc. It seemed the only approved way of getting anywhere was by limo. 

Or something. 

Not being adequately equipped with 5 star private transportation, last Sunday morning saw me at the extremely grand marble clad train station. 

A Little Bit of Catching Up

To set the current scene, I’m sat in a tiny shaded park outside Odessa International Airport, which was built in 1961. It looks every inch its age and is reminiscent of a dodgy looking bus station; Ploče springs to mind - that place will haunt me forever! The weather is glorious, sunny, warm embracing heat with a light breeze to kiss the skin. There are dodgy looking concrete bunkers behind me, but not a Costa Cafe or duty free shop in sight. 

The purr of jet engines is audible just behind me but clearly there are only a few planes per day, so it’s not intrusive. The new airport opposite with its distinctive blue and white wavy roof shines under its protective wrappings, and is resolutely still under construction. It is for arrivals only and where I appeared 3 weeks ago. This period of no Internet is the perfect time to record some thoughts.