Today I decided to head to Kyiv since the Russians appear to be on the run and it is safe to do so. I also figured it would be a much shorter trip to Chernobyl, and since getting close to the nuclear plants is a top goal of this trip, and Chernobyl a top prize, we decided to defer Rivne and the others for now.
I said goodbye to the Ukrainian Catholic Church and boarded a train at Lviv station for a long ride to Kyiv. The train ride was interesting, however, for its passengers who turned out to be a combination of young men of prime fighting age, housewives, and old husbands. One old couple I spoke to were heading home from Poland. The old man had been caught on a business trip when war broke out and was heading home. I also saw young children and their mothers who were also apparently heading home, which gives me great confidence that things in Kyiv have settled down.
The arrival at the Kyiv train station was anything but boring. We arrived in total blackout conditions and everyone funneled in the darkness at the stairway, past armed soldiers who were checking passports and baggage. Fortunately, I sailed through with my American passport and didn’t have to unpack for the soldier.
When I got out onto the street there were no taxis, and it was less than a half-hour away from curfew, which is at 10 o’clock. So, I started walking to my hotel using Google Maps. As I was walking, I went past an armed soldier who I believe advised me in Ukrainian that I needed to get inside because of the curfew. I told him that I was heading for my hotel and he let me pass--but when I was halfway down the block, he called me and offered me a ride. He called his associate who spoke much better English, gave him his gun, put me in his car, and drove me to my hotel. I'll never forget how nice that soldier was.
I was able to find a hotel, and like the other hotel I stayed at in Lviv it is small and was closed because I arrived so late. But I was able to find the doorbell and woke up the purveyor. I went up seven flights in a very small elevator and they checked me in. Now here I am at the WOW hotel in Kyiv looking forward to a self-guided tour of the capital city in the morning. Whew!