Saturday, March 22, 2008

Transportation in Ukraine, summer 2006

We went a lot of places while we were in Ukraine, and this meant we did a lot of traveling. Some of our means of transportation were quite standard and expected, others were not.

In order to get to Ukraine, we flew, with Lufthansa, by way of Frankfurt. Upon reaching the airport, we got into a large blue van owned by Randy. When going to and from Vasiliy's house and the rest of the city, we generally took the Metro, though one time Valentin drove. We also used the buses once, and the trams as well. In formerly-Soviet countries, these have these awesome trams that roll around on tracks, getting power from overhead lines. You get onboard, and a lady sells you a ticket. You then have to take your ticket and stamp it in a little metal stamping device, so that the ticket is known to have been used. They also have electric buses that run off of the tram-power-lines, while still retaining the ability to change lanes. We took a little boat tour of the Dnieper, so that Dick could sit down and have a meeting with a friend, and, strangest of all, we took a little trip on the funicular. I am pretty sure that this last one was just so that we could have the experience, not that we really needed to. Dick does that kind of thing.

I have already written plenty about the trains that we took, so I won't talk any more about those. Once we got to Sevastopol, Kostia met us at the train station, to take us all to the Camp. How did he do this? With a UPS truck, of course! Big, brown, and possessing plenty of room for people and their baggage, this truck took us to and from the train station, to and from church, and into Sevastopol to see the city on Sunday as well. It was hot, it was sweaty, but it was also pretty cool to be able to say "I am riding in the back of a UPS truck!" I have no idea where Kostia got it, or why he had it, but it had a German slogan on the side. The return trip from Camp was way more crowded, because we had a bunch Ukrainians with us, and our ridiculous American baggage seemed to have grown. It was incredible.

To get to camp, you had to get to the beach. To get to the beach, you have to take a ferry from Balaklava. There are two ferries, owned by the same people, named Jupiter (well, Yupiter) and Mercury. They're pretty good ferries, I thought, and they weren't usually too crowded. I haven't talked nearly enough about Kostia, so I will tell you that every day he would hike/run over the mountains into town, buy lots of food, and then bring it all back on the ferry. It was a lot of food to keep all us campers fed. The ferry was not the only boat we used, as we did get a tour of the Submarine Base Tunnel in a little motorboat. It was a pretty small boat though, and it almost doesn't count.

There are only two other forms of transportation, besides the obvious use of our legs, that I can think of. To get from Balaklava to Yalta to see the Botanical Garden, we took what they call a Marshrutka, a mini-bus taxi. On our way back from Ukraine, we had a several hour lay-over in Munich, where we hung out with Paul's friend Dominik, ate delicious sausage, and saw a big Catholic cathedral with lots of statues and no paint but white. To get from the airport into the city, we took the S-Bahn, which turned out to be a very nice commuter train/subway. Once, while waiting at the station, a lady came up to Adam and asked him about why the #6 train was delayed. Despite his half-forgotten knowledge of German, Adam was unable to answer. Thankfully, Dominik and Dick were there to inform the lady both that Adam did not speak German, and the reasons for the delay, which had just been announced.

This is what we looked like after traveling. I mean, really, it's after a long hike, but we felt like this a lot. Except Paul, who is almost never too tired to not be able to do that thing in photos. Oh man.

I think this might be the end of my Ukraine posts. I don't have much else to say about it, that I can think of, and the videos we took, upon further inspection, are not likely to be of much interest to the casual reader. I hope these were good posts, and I might be writing more in the future, about other things, but only if I feel like it.

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