Thursday, 18 October 2012

Shanghai to London Part 10

Moscow- Kiev

Moscow Kievska is the grandest of the cities stations.
It is dusk by the time we arrive at Moscow Kievska station for our overnight train to Kiev. This is one of the more grand of Moscow’s railway stations both above and below ground- Many of Moscow’s metro stations look more like palaces than railway stations! Getting into the station however is a little more difficult than it could be. The entrance near to the metro station is only for the airport train, and there appears to be no way in from the front of the building either. Eventually we follow some people around the far side through what appears to be a building site to find the trains. Ours, train No.005, the 21:29 to Kiev is right in front of us on one of the outdoor platforms.

Platzkart- Not luxurious- but quite adequate for a nights
sleep. Some coaches pack in even more beds than this.
There is some question over our accommodation on this train. I have booked 3rd class ‘Platzkart’ (essentially open bunks) but the English cover letter reads ‘1st class with services’- clearly I am hoping for the latter. On initially seeing our coach, with partitions I comment ‘well, it’s not Platzkart’ but once we step inside it is clear that I have been mistaken- it is! The second thing I notice about the train is the stifling heat. We have the small window to our bay of beds open but it makes little difference- the heat is almost reminiscent of the Russian Banya- except that in the bath house there is a plunge pool of cold water to cool off in, oh- and men beating themselves with Oak branches. For better or worse this is not happening on the train.

We bid goodbye to Russia with our CHS7 loco.
We depart Moscow on time (it is almost totally dark outside now) behind our CHS7 locomotive. Almost immediately entry cards for the Ukraine are handed out.  It is clear that many of the passengers (myself included) are already tired and it is not long before the coach is in sleeping formation and the lights are dimmed.

Passengers are awoken at some stage during the night for Russian border control. While still inconvenient the process at the border between these former Soviet states is far less strenuous than the crossing from Mongolia was. I struggle to get back to sleep after this, not helped by a blocked nose, but it seems I did achieve sleep just in time to be woken by the next interruption- entry into the Ukraine. This procedure again is not arduous and we are finally free of visas and back in the EU. It is already starting to get light but there is definitely still the potential for a little further rest.

The sun is still shining the following morning as CHS4-102
is uncoupled from our train at Kiev Pass.
I wake up a while later and decide to spend the remainder of the journey admiring the Ukrainian landscape. As it turns out I have longer for this activity than I expected as the time zones have shifted once more. Initial impressions are quite different from the barren birch woodland I have grown used to on the Trans-Siberian. To start with brown has given way to green and the tree species have diversified hugely- the Birch which is present here is also covered in new leaves. The land is more utilized as well, there are more houses and extensive farming. All in all it is a pleasant outlook and it seems we are in store for yet another warm sunny day. By the time we cross the mighty Dnipro River downtown Kiev is very much in sight. It is not long before we pull into the platforms at Kiev Pass. I think we are a little late, but am in all honesty so confused by the times of this train by this point that I really can’t say- either way we have arrived, and have survived the night in ‘Platzkart’!

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