Nov 042010

Due to our unpleasant little encounter in Lviv Station two days earlier, Peder and I were concerned that we might be in store for one more police shakedown on our way to the train to Krakow – so just to be safe we left the hostel over an hour in advance.

Thankfully, we made it onboard without an issue. The only challenge that now remained was to cross out of the country; it would be our last and final bout with the most corrupt police force I’ve ever experienced. For this trip, at least 😉

On the one hand, Ukraine-Poland is an official EU border crossing, so it’d probably be reasonable to expect professional and courteous treatment. But on the other, it’s hard to forget the unpleasantness we experienced while making our way into the country a few weeks earlier (though to be fair, those were Transdniestrian guards and not Ukrainian ones).

In any case, for the time being we did the only thing we could. We waited. And when we finally did reach the border, the immigration process went by without a hitch:

1) First were the formalities of exiting Ukraine. Immigration officers boarded the train, walked up and down searching the rooms, checking passports, and collecting arrival cards. They also did something I hadn’t yet seen on any train: a walk-through with a drug dog.

2) After they finished, the train continued just one or two kilometers farther before stopping for the Polish border patrol to enter and repeat a similar procedure. Each step took probably half an hour, with a half an hour of waiting in between. Tick tock…

3) Finally, the train’s wheels had to be adjusted. Because the Soviet countries use different gauge rails than the rest of Europe, every train that crosses between the two systems either has adjustable-width wheels or the ability to lift the passenger compartments off the carriage below. Ours was the former, which involved another half hour or so of bumping, jolting and clanging.

By the time all of the above had finished it was just past 2am. At last I could enjoy my wonderfully comfy bed.

…Until around 4 when the sun started to rise.


It was now just one day before the Summer Solstice, so by 4:00 our cabin was already filled with brilliant sunlight. I guess the only thing our perfect train lacked was a set of blackout curtains 😛 And although a simple eye cover is usually enough to let me to sleep through any level of brightness, the sun just happened to be positioned right outside our window, shining directly onto my face. I eventually did get back to sleep, but it took way longer than I would’ve liked.

Ah well. It was still a fun little experience – and perhaps the only time in my life I’ve actually wished for a longer train ride. This room was seriously more comfortable than some of the hotels I’ve stayed in 🙂

Next stop: Poland, my 40th country.

  8 Responses to “Sleepless Sleeper”

  1. Hi Justin,

    Since you last version of Facebook Photo Fetcher it stopped working again.
    Tha problem with “Fatal error: Cannot redeclare class FacebookRestClientException” is back and even though the albums is displayed the don’t show nicely as before.

    Thanks for a great app!

  2. Please post plugin support requests on the plugin support page (not my public blog).

  3. Nice to see comments that are relevant to this post 😉

  4. Lol seriously…

  5. Hmm, even though you call it an EU border, it’s still an *Ukranian* border first, then the Polish border. There is nothing preventing them from doing whatever they want on the Ukranian side while they wave at us with flags and bonbons from the other side of the EU border 😛

    Anyway, your memory seems to have blocked out what was supposed to be shakedown #10. Don’t you remember how the one officer came up to us and asked “any cigarettes, vodka, drugs”? We put on our puppydog eyes and said “no”, and he promptly ordered us to open our bags for inspection. I’m not sure if our little “Roskilde Reserve” would even be illegal, but I’m pretty sure they could have made life miserable for us for the next couple of hours…ending in the common money changing owner and shaking of hands, as if both parties were happy with the agreement…

  6. Of course I remember! See my comment on the last post: “I did omit the thing about the bag-checking…intentionally…” 😛

  7. Well, good thing I’m here to keep people informed then 😛

  8. Yep…fill in the gaps! That’s why I usually try to read my blog notes to you before a trip ends, since you always think of stuff I don’t (though in this case, I did :P)

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