Our minibus arrived in Kiev just before midnight. Although we hadn’t reserved any lodgings for the evening, I’d read in Lonely Planet that there are loads of clean, cheap rooms available right inside the main train station – so I figured that showing up and finding a place would be relatively quick and painless.
Oops. I probably should’ve noticed that the bus and train stations are on opposite ends of the city 😐
Luckily, as we stood in the parking lot fumbling with the map and guidebook (and attempting to repel the countless ripoff taxis about which we’d been warned by some friendly young travelers), a sharply dressed Italian businessman – a furniture dealer from Moscow – came up to offer his assistance.
His first thought was to call a legitimate cab to take us to our hostel (at less than a tenth the cost of a “black taxi”). But when none were immediately available, he offered that we share his instead. Despite the fact that it was already past midnight, and that our best option was pretty far out of his way. He even went so far as to call the hostel to make sure we found it safe and sound. Nice guy!
Unfortunately the phone number listed in Lonely Planet didn’t work, and no exact address was mentioned – it described the location simply as “right near the American embassy.” But we didn’t want to trouble the guy any further so we had him to drop us at the embassy, found our way there on foot, and checked into our first shared room of the trip.
Although I almost always stay in hostels while traveling alone, whenever Peder joins up we tend to go for private doubles instead – they do lack the social atmosphere of a hostel, but offer far more privacy and security for (typically) very little extra cost. And while I can’t say I’d recommend IYH Kiev as one of the better spots I’ve patronized – the staff was pretty unhelpful and there were virtually no common facilities at all – I have to say that we really lucked out in the roomate department. We were placed with a pair of young Russian travelers here to promote their startup footwear business…who, as it turned out, were also fairly well-known DJ’s at Kazantip. Kazantip, a festival Peder and I had been discussing just a couple hours earlier, and which we’ve been dying to check out ever since a friend sent me a link to its promotional video a few months back.
See the video here.
So even though we didn’t check in until nearly 1am, rather than going to bed early and resting up for our first day of capital city tourism we ended up chatting and sharing photos until well after 3. By the time our two new friends finally said goodnight they’d offered us a room in their private 20-bedroom Kazantip “mansion,” if we ever made our way out to the festival.
Now that’s what I call a good couple of contacts! 😀