Getting to V'yunyshche

My first Couchurfing host Andrey invited me to visit his godmother’s village on my first day in Ukraine. But first, I had to take several forms of transportation to get there from Vilnius.

The staff at Do Re Mi Vilnius Hostel directed me to a place where I could find coffee early on a Saturday before I caught the bus to the airport. The coffee shop and the bus stop were just around the corner from the hostel, so it took no time at all before I hopped on and bought a €1 ticket from the driver in cash.

Stay caffeinated

I didn’t even realize we had arrived about 15 minutes later because the Vilnius airport looks like an old train station.

Doesn't look like an airport Arrivals area ceiling

The part that did look more like an airport was to the right of the entrance to the airport, which is where many people walked after getting off the bus for the departures area. (But I discovered that you can have a much more enjoyable walk through the main entrance through the arrivals area to departures.)

Ugly = airport?

Before getting on the plane, I surveyed the food options in the domestic departures area, which was terribly limited. I found some things that looked like savory hand pies (€2.50 each) and nommed on those for breakfast. The staff even heated them up for me.

They resemble Cornish pasties.

Michael, a Couchsurfing member from LA I met at last night’s meeting, saw me waiting in the boarding line and said hello. We talked about his current meandering route around Eastern Europe, including visiting his host family in Georgia whom he stayed with when he was in the Peace Corps. We ended up having seats in the same row: coincidences are funny.

Obviously, there had to be Cyrillic letters on the plane since I was flying Ukrainian International.

On the plane

After the 1.5-hour flight, Michael and I looked for an ATM and found two to the left of the information desk as you’re exiting the Kiev airport. They charged about ₴50 in fees per withdrawal. I wasn’t sure how much to take out, but the Sky Bus ticket into town cost ₴60 in cash, plus the Kiev metro tokens are ₴4 each, so I needed at least that much.

My backpack didn’t fit in the overhead shelf on the Sky Bus, so I held it on my knees rather than stashing it under the bus. It took about 45 minutes to reach Pivdenny Railway Station from the airport.

On the Sky Bus

I wished Michael the best for the remainder of his trip and went in search of the Vokzalna Metro Station. I ended up in an underground passageway filled with small shops on either side. (This turned out to be a common sight in Kiev.) Eventually, I found it despite my limited recognition of Cyrillic letters and the lack of visible English signage outside of the station. At least they had a clear indication of the direction that the trains from each platform went in.

To the last stop Blue trains

At the last stop (Akademmistechko), I walked to a shop called Baul to look for the marshrutka to Malyn. It wasn’t immediately obvious, but I eventually discovered that the two-story kiosk to the left of the entrance to Baul was where to wait. Andrey told me to show the driver a message in Ukrainian and that I should not have to pay for the ride because he gets a free one every ten rides. (Lucky me!) The driver didn’t have his reading glasses, so I had to ask a fellow passenger to read it to the driver. (Usually the ride is ₴35.)

Baul looked like a second-hand clothing store. On the very hot shared taxi

We reached the center of Malyn after about 1.5 hours, and Andrey was waiting for me in the square. From his mom’s house, we picked up some samohon. Then we bought some groceries as dinner supplies, as well as this funny sesame-seed-coated, poppy seed ice cream popsicle that urges people to stop using narcotics.

Stop narcotics, eat poppy seeds

Andrey’s family’s preferred taxi driver picked us up from his house and drove us about 15 minutes to reach V’yunyshche, a 21-person village. Check out my post on the village for more of the story.

Written on July 30, 2016