Ukraine Travelogue -
New York to Kyiv, Kyiv to Lviv

Wednesday August 16, 2006

This is the long, detailed version of the travelogue - there is also a Short Version. In addition you can see an 40 photo JFK - Kyiv - Lviv Slideshow of all photos I took today.

We actually began our trip on Tuesday morning. Unfortunately for me, Fiddler on the Roof (one of my favorite movies, and set just south of Kyiv) was on TV at 1am so I stayed up with Bob until 4am watching that. That meant that I got only a few hours of sleep before waking up again at 10am, to get to my mom's house by 11:30am. Mom, her husband Len and I left there at 12, getting to my godmother Stephanie's house for 1. We then packed up the van there at 1:30, so that added in Stephanie, husband Nick, and kids Kris and Peter (well the kids were in their 30s like me :) ). We then spent 2 hrs driving out to JFK airport in New York.

There was a long line in our terminal but very luckily our 3 remaining travelling companions, Nadia Myron and son Victor were right at the head of the line and the attendant motioned us over so she could process us all together! Hurrah!

There ensued much rearranging because the seats were completely hosed, despite us asking our travel agent numerous times to get us arranged properly. Very few of us got to sit side by side in the end, and poor Peter and Victor had to sit in completely different areas of the plane. We thought Peter was moved forward into Business Class but apparently he was just further up in the same class. In any case, we had our luggage weighed, then got it back again to drop off at a security machine. Now we had about an hour to kill - they wanted us to board at 4:30 for a 5:30 departure. There's a food court, shops and a small bar in the substantially sized pre-security area, as shown here.

JFK Airport

Past the security area (i.e. in the gates) there's nothing at all except a little snack counter so we ate at the food court. I had a sandwich and others grabbed pizza etc., then in through security. Even with the recent terrorist threat, besides seeing a soldier with a rifle, it was very smooth. We got into line at 5:15pm. The line moved quickly, no issues at all, and we were at the gate by 5:21pm.

When 5:30 rolled around, nothing. It wasn't until 6 or so that they began thinking about boarding - and everyone raced into a giant mass line. Since we put our stuff at our feet when we're on the plane, and therefore don't need to fight for overhead compartment space, we waited for it to subside and then joined in. People would just cut into the line's middle. By 6:21 I was on the plane, which was jammed full. I had a seat on the right side of the plane on the aisle with a stranger to my right. Mom was in front of me, Kris across the aisle to the left. So at least I could see friendly people :)

I promptly put on my Bose noise cancelling headphones which made a HUGE difference in the entire trip. It was just so amazing how much engine noise they cut out. On the other hand, I should have brought a deodorizer. The plane, maybe because it does two 10-hr flights a day without any real cleaning, was quite odiferous.

We sat in the plane for over an hour. Our actual take-off time was 7:58pm. I tried to sleep as much as humanly possible on the flight. They gave us a drink (I had water) shortly after take-off, then an hour went by. Then we got dinner with nothing to drink about 9pm. This was meatloaf, shrimp, a little cake, bread and broccoli. Then I slept. It became night, it promptly became day again (we fly into the sun in this direction) and soon they were serving breakfast - egg, tomato. I wasn't very hungry yet. In no time at all we were landing in Kyiv! Everyone applauded when the wheels touched down.

The rush to get OFF the plane was simply a madhouse. People were actually pushing and shoving to be off before the doors opened. They bumped into us numerous times when the plane doors hadn't even opened. We walked down a short corridor to get to the passport area. The lines weren't too long in the grand scheme of things although we got into a slow one, and they barely asked any questions before sending us along to the luggage area.

We stood here at the baggage carousel for literally an hour, with again people pushing and shoving to get to the front of the area, before luggage began to slowly trickle out. It took quite a long while before all the bags were out. Because we had nothing to declare we walked out the green doors and POOF we were in amongst throngs of noisy visitors.

Part 2 - Kyiv to Lviv
JFK - Kyiv - Lviv Slideshow - 40 Photos

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