Friday, June 19, 2009

Monday in Kyiv

Monday our friend Sasha drove us to Kyiv. We left Pereyaslav Khmelnitsky at 6:00 am and by 8:00 we were in downtown Kyiv. The trip took one hour five years ago. Vehicle ownership and subsequently traffic has increased dramatically. The Kyiv street and expressway system was never designed for the amount of traffic it has today.

Going back to PK also took two hours. One hour to the edge of town and one hour on the road. From downtown we took a route that had us on three lanes merging into four lanes, both backed up for several kilometers. As we approached the bridge over the Dnipro River another three lanes of traffic also was trying to merge with us. The four lane main expressway then narrows to three over the bridge but that is ignored and it becomes an effective four lane bridge.

Downtown is all big expensive cars - Mercedes, Audis, Land Cruiser SUV's of all brands, Lexus, BMWs. Interestingly enough, morning and evening commuter traffic was all middle class cars. Ordinary Joes (Volodyas?) commuting from Boryspil and other bedroom communities.

Our first chore was to look after Tanya at the Canadian Embassy. Sasha and I dropped Tanya off at the prescribed bank to start the process. She paid $150 CAD at the bank and took the receipt and all her documentation to the Embassy gate and turned it in by 10:00, then she went for lunch and waited until 3:00. She went back to the Embassy and they handed her a five year multi entry visa just like that. Three successful trips to Canada and a Canadian husband in Ukraine made her a safe bet to leave when the trip was over.

Sasha and I went to the Russian Consulate to apply for my visa. We had to get in line to find out how much the visa cost and what exact documentation they needed. $125 USD for two weeks tourist visa to Moscow and Krasnoyarsk, to be picked up in 10 days (24 hour turnaround was $350 USD). I had everything I needed for a visa applied for at the Russian Embassy in Canada but they are all different. Thankfully they let Sasha in to translate for me as that speeded things up, even though one lady there spoke perfect English.

I needed copies of three documents I did not have. I had an original that needed photocopying and two on my flash drive that needed printing. Where to go? Sasha noticed that there was a small office in which a girl was photocopying documents. One problem solved but where to print from the flash drive? She would do that too. I was very relieved and said to Sasha in English, "Give that girl a kiss". She blushed beet red. Oh, Oh. Sasha told her (in Russian) that he was willing even without my orders, which just made it worse. All documents done, everything handed in just by 1:00 the daily deadline.

IF they give it to me, I will pick up my visa on June 24th in Kyiv. On June 25th we take the train to Moscow and then on the 26th fly to Krasnoyarsk. There are six companies competing on that route and it was cheaper than train. Tanya's Papa will come back with us for two months. Tanya will take him to Moscow and put him on a plane home just before we go to Canada in September.
We then met Tanya, had lunch, waited until 3:00 when she got her visa and went to a travel agent to buy our return tickets to Russia. All lined up and go to pay. Cash only. Can you believe it? $2000 worth of tickets and they want cash. We had to go find a bank machine. They closed at 6:00 pm. At 6:00 pm we walked out the door with the tickets and my blood pressure at an all time high.

No, it was high last summer too when we went to Turkey and a different travel agent wanted cash for $2000 worth of holiday package. Parts of the country are not yet in the 21st century, I guess.


  1. No kidding your blood pressure was high. Sounds like they're not even in the 20th century yet!

  2. Now I know why Russians don't get their hopes to high.


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