3 days / 3 nights
|In the train:
Toulouse – Paris
Paris – Warsaw
Warsaw – Kyiv
556€ for the tickets
Our today’s world is so modern that it can make any journey around the world last not only less than 80 days, but even less than 80 hours. Planes with the most unexpected connections allow covering absolutely crazy distances so fast that there is not enough time to have a good sleep. You know it already anyway. But admiring the landscapes and feeling every kilometre left behind make also a delicious part of journey. That’s why this time we decided to travel from Toulouse to Kyiv in the old way which means by train. So how it happened.
Toulouse – Paris
76€ – two tickets to the night train.
00:48 – 07:30
Somehow, the direct connection between Kyiv and Toulouse still doesn’t exist, so we had to change three trains. The first step in this funny adventure was the usual night train to Paris, though “usual” in this case is only partially usual, as the night trains in Western Europe lost their importance quite long time ago with all their TGVs, ICEs etc. Anyway this train was disappointing: 6 beds in a tiny compartment, just enough space to enter and to lie down, nothing more. Too crowded for such a small place and extremely uncomfortable, it’s good that we didn’t have to spend too much time in the train, only enough to sleep. Morning Austerlitz is very nice due to the absence of usual crowd and noise, and Paris… It was a gorgeous day, but about Paris we’ll talk another time. :)12€ – a taxi to the Gare de l’Est
5.50€ – the lockers
110€ – a day in Paris.
Paris – Warsaw
240€ – two tickets in a four place compartment including all age discounts
20:05 – 16:37 (depart every Saturday from the Gare de l’Est)
The legendary train Paris-Moscow, operated by no less legendary Russian Railways, or, as it’s simply called, RZD. Let’s start with tickets purchasing. Strangely, but the tickets for this train are not sold in French railway stations, we were sent to the travel agencies, alleging that they can book our ticket. I don’t want to imagine how much they charge for this service which is as difficult and tricky as booking of plane tickets. Yes, even here the site of RZD surprised us – everything could be easily done online – choosing, booking, paying and printing, the only inconvenience are the obligatory registration and the commission for the currency conversion (it cost us around 4€). Also, on the contrary to all expectations, there was no need of any particular blank, it’s enough to have just a printed A4 sheet with the code, even if it’s international train.
And here it was, our favorite classics: the stewards, tea in the glasses with iron glass-holders podstakannik (RZD wouldn’t be “R” if it wasn’t decorated with “Great Victory” slogans). The train was superb, honestly. There was even shower!
We were lucky to be alone in the compartment till Berlin, so we were free to smell with our French cheeses as much as we liked and wave with our fishing rod, that we really had to take with us to Kyiv.
When I see the mistakes like this one “la plancheя”, I’m really afraid of the whole train quality.
In this magic train a real restaurant is open, with real kitchen, decent meals and respective prices. Except for usual chicken dishes, one can also try there… kangaroo steak.
26€ – lunch in the restaurant wagon
Warsaw – Kyiv
200€ + 40€ – two train tickets + additional payment for private compartment.
16:50 – 10:32
Time to come back to reality. And namely to UkrZaliznytsia (Ukrainian Railways). The comedy started while buying the tickets. It’s possible to buy them online ONLY via PolRail (Polish Railways), but a new circumstance was discovered. In this train there are compartments for two and three persons, the last is, naturally, cheaper. Without any hesitation, we ordered two places in the compartment for three, and then we received a mail saying that for the name of morality the compartments for women and men were separate, so if we wanted to travel together, we had to pay more for getting a private one. It’s epic, especially considering that such Puritanism is respected only in Warsaw-Kyiv direction, but Kyiv-Warsaw is absolutely different thing, there one can feel free to indulge in lust. So 40€ more and in a week we received our tickets printed on special form (for some reason with DB logo) for our conjugal compartment. Joking apart, maybe separate compartments is something rather positive, when personal comfort is concerned.
We changed the trains without any additional troubles. As we got out the RZD train in Warsaw and just on the opposite platform arrived our last train. Perfect time matching and we didn’t have to wander in Warsaw railway station. 25 minutes were more than enough.
This train made us upset. I hate myself for these words, but after Paris-Moscow, this one made impression to be made of forgotten trash from crazy granny’s attic. The sits which are impossible to sit on, strange carpets, and a ridiculous stepladder (for getting to the upper beds), the screws leaving the windows. Suddenly I had strange pain in my heart. Actually, this feeling shows itself quite frequently when I’m in Ukraine, it’s a very touching country . The only advantage was the sink in the compartment, but it took us too long to realise it was there.
This part of journey was the least pleasant. It was extremely difficult to sit, the heat was too strong, and in addition to all that our train was full of European students that were exploring the corridors till the late hour. We also had to survive a particularly long border passing as it was not only passport control, but also changing of the wheels – obviously Ukrainian rails don’t correspond to “European standards”. Taking a laptop with movies was a great idea. This part of journey wasn’t worth its money at all, I guess people who prefer the train Kyiv-Warsaw to a plane must be really afraid of heights .
The conclusion is: that was funny and interesting, relaxing and very pleasant, but unfortunately the trip by train cost more than any plane we could take. Which is very sad, as the train journeys are much ecological and… natural, I would say.
Now we are in Kyiv and we’ll talk about it very soon. :)
And what was your longest train trip in your life?