As I sit here it is past midnight and I really want to go to bed but I feel I should wait for the Ukrainian customs officers to come onto the train and stamp our passports etc. as I’m a heavy sleeper and not good being woken up. I’m actually a bit nervous this time because its the first time we are using (all of us except Sandy) our European passports. We did this so that only Sandy needed a visa – and consequently saved us hundreds of dollars. Well I’m having visions of the customs officers telling us – well actually Greek citizens do need visas so go back to Moscow and get one- mmmmmmm! Not sure why customs officers can instil so much nervousness – they never smile – maybe it’s the fact that they always seem to come in the middle of the night and you just want to go to bed. The funny thing with this crossing is the Russians stamped us out of Russia at about 9pm but the next stop is …….well who knows how long away it is – Kiev? Maybe I should just got to bed.
Our overnight trains are coming to an end which is sad cause we actually really love them – they make us stop and just sit and ponder and view the world outside the window and nap and play hours of Lego or read. It’s great. Getting on and off the trains with our many kilos is another question though – that is not so great! Every time we do it we dream of settling in Greece and putting some of our things away.
Our next border crossing is in about 4 days into Moldova, though that is just a 5 hour train ride from Odessa. We pass through an autonomous area of Transnistria which they think is a country though no one in the diplomatic community recognises yet. Apparently they sometimes come onto the train and sometimes don’t, if they do they will try to get about 20 Euros as a transit visa from you. We know so little about this part of the world – must do some research.
Customs check completed – took a while – our customs officer looked furiously through our empty Greek passports looking for our Russian visas (not his country so shouldn’t need to worry really!) and trying to get around his head that we were travelling with two passports. The lady stamping passports in Sandy’s compartment next door worked it out in her head way before him and told him what to do – all stamped – off to bed. Wish us luck – the kids have no barriers on their upper bunks and the Ukrainian trains don’t supply any! Our first impression of Ukraine from this train and the stations outside is ‘functional poor cousin’. We hear Odessa, where we are heading, is absolutely gorgeous and has great beaches so looking forward to getting there after lunch tomorrow.