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Catching the train to Zaporozhye has been a real experience on it’s own. All the trains over here are sleeping compartments, even during the day. So it’s nice and cosy and you get to meet your fellow passengers. Today I had the pleasure of sharing the ride with Alek, Lyudmilla and Victor. They were very friendly and amazed that I was from Australia, and at my name. OF course it rings a bell with them, they’re Ukrainian.

Sharing is the order of the day, and I politely declined the Vodka shots at 9am as well as the Gherkins being passed around. The brine made good drinking out of the bowl. O.K then… Then unexpectedly, a female seller came around selling 4 giant 10kg fish, which black Caviar is caught from. A real delicacy and went for $250.00 each. Here the video. Amazing what you see on the trains over here.

I get to Zaporozhye and the smart thing to do is buy your ticket out of there for the next day. I go to the window with a translation written down on what I want “to go to Kiev”. Nyet, Nyet was the reply. A kind passenger who knows English explained that all trains tomorrow to Kiev are fully booked out. Nothing left. WTF I say to myeslf. How the hell do I get out of here? Can I catch a bus? Yes the bus station is way over there and basically, good luck finding it. Oh shit… major problem. Luckily I read my lonely planet book and they mentioned that the hotel I was staying at had a travel agency on-site. I’ll risk that and hope that they can arrange a seat for tomorrow.

Exiting the station and the scam taxi sharks pounce. “Nyet Nyet, no taxi” I say. Soon I find a vehicle with the driver asleep. Taxi on his roof. I arrive at the post-Soviet looking hotel, and ask at reception, after catching a “taxi”. These are just ordinary guys who put a neon sign on their car, and rip off the tourists for a fare 4 times the cost of a normal taxi. You know how much I love taxi drivers people. Don’t know how they get away with it.

The hotel reception send me to the travel agency, and they tell me the same thing, the trains are full. Happens to be a day of festivities at Zaporozhye Sich. Good news for me, the Cossacks are putting on a show, but bad news for me, the 8 hour train is booked out. “Is there anything you can do” I say. All seats are taken, but you can fly to Kiev for 1000 UA (about $125). Here we go, the inflated prices to rip off the tourist. Oh, or you can take a first class seat on the train tomorrow. Really, how much? As she pauses 500 UA, which is about $61.00. About 5 times more than the ticket is worth. Apparently the scam artists buy all the tickets so there are none left then sell them for an inflated price. I know I’m getting scammed and play dumb. Look shocked, pause then say, O.K that will have to do. I’ll take it. Little does she know that to me that is cheap for a sleeper to Kiev, and apparently for only 2 passengers in first class. I reckon she just sold me a 2nd class ticket for the inflated price. The tourist won’t know, he’ll board the train anyway. Oh well. Chalk that one up to another experience.

Good news is that the Cossack celebrations on Khortisa Island will start at 8.30am and my train leaves at 8.30 that night. Plenty of time to see the festivities. I’ll post some photos soon as soon as I have some more time. My journey in Ukraine can’t end soon enough. I want to get back home to the family, who I miss very much, This adventure has been very difficult to say the least, even if I was 20 years younger.


1 Comment

Michael Doroshenko

October 15, 2011 at 8:19 pm

not sure who has got the biggest belly, but i don’t have belt to hold it in Mr.Cossack

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