The longest train ride in history…16 hours from Kiev to Mariupol


As I walk into the train station, I recognize instantly this is a monument to Stalinism.  A relic of the Cold War.  The grand lobby is huge and in the middle is the largest and most beautiful chandelier I have ever seen.  The station is alive with activity and this
seems to be the place to be.  Shops, families, travelers.  I am excited.  We walk through the entire station and then proceed down three sets of stairs and all of  a sudden, there is a different feeling.  It is not quit as electric, it is more subdued and the Kiosks are small and old.  Then there in front of us is our train.  I look at the train and in my mind
I think of the children’s story, “The little Engine that Could.”  But this is the little engine much later in life.  All aboard!

The train is also a Soviet relic.  I can see the attempts to keep it up, but the attempts are mainly layer upn layer of paint. Irena, my Ukrainian liaison, helps me as we trundle up the narrow stairs into the train car.  We find cabin #11 and my seat and I see instantly that I have too much luggage.  I am that crazy American with the huge suitcase and the carry-on.  Then my Ukrainian travel partner enters and he speaks a little English and I find out his name is” Ivan.”  Perfect.

The seat/bed is exactly six feet long.  I know because my head touches the wall at
one end and my feet touch at the other.  As I lay on the bed my right arm touches the wall and my left arm the edge of the bed.  Ivan is about 18 inches away from me.  It will be a cozy 16 hours.  I like Ivan, he is very polite and we seem to be able to communicate whatever is needed.  The residual effects of jet lag hit me and by
6 p.m., I am fast asleep.

I wake up at 2:30 a.m. and I am wide awake and looking for the bathroom.  I would like to freshen up and walk around a bit.  We just happen to be at a stop and so the bathroom is closed during all train stops.  Seems a little odd, but I can wait.  I finally get in to the toilet area and take the opportunity to brush my teeth and splash some water on my face.  It took me a good five minutes to figure out the water process.  There are two knobs that have to be turned just right and then there is a rudimentary plunger on
the faucet itself that you have to manipulate and then the water appears. Woo
hoo as my students would say, I have water. Then it is time to use the “facilities.”
Not the greatest, but this proceess I figure out pretty quickly.  When I am done and flush, I see the train tracks flowing by under the flushing toilet. Then I remember the restrooms were closed at the train stops and now I know why.

The train stops at about 6:30 a.m. and the nice Ukrainian lady that is in charge of the train car shows me all ten fingers indicating that I can walk around at the train station for about ten minutes.  I welcome the fresh air and the opportunity to stretch my legs.  I reenter the train and as I look out the window at the sights of Ukraine as they pass by, I am excited to meet my host teacher and continue this great adventure in a country
that is captivating me with unexpected vigor and excitement.





10 thoughts on “The longest train ride in history…16 hours from Kiev to Mariupol

  1. You write entertainingly about a journey that was probably largely an ordeal. They did pick the right guy to send on that trip. I hope your host teacher and school are as inspiring as ours. We met one woman who has been teaching there 48 years, and she still has that rush of excitement in her voice as she talks about former students. I’ll keep reading if you keep writing. Good luck, Mr. Bundy.

    • For my students. Thiscomment is from one of the nice teachers that is also in Ukraine. See…even other teachers like me!

  2. Pryveet, yak spravy? Good job on you going potty, how did you get talking to ivan? Courtney wants you to ask the people if they know who Hannah Montana is. Krissy wants you to also print off pictures of polar bears and hand them out too all of the children there. You also need to tell them some Joe-Ha jokes and some Knock-Knock jokes. Krissys thinking of other stuff to write about. Williams being a party pooper right now and criticizing all of us. Scandalous!! POKA! FOOO SHIZZLE!!

    • Thank you for being so concerned about my hygiene. Here go the answers.
      – I was only 18 inches away from Ivan and he kept looking at me.
      – They don’t know Hannah Montana, but luckily I have a picture, so I will show everyone. jk
      – Polar Bears…got it.
      – I am teaching an English class tomorrow. I will use my classic “Dwayne the bathtub I,m dwowning” joke. thanks for the idea.
      – Will, you need to be nice or I will call the Navy.

  3. Hello Mr. Bundy,
    This is Katz. The whole class has agreed that Austin Young is the best student in the class.
    Anyway, Ivan seems like a pretty cool guy. Make sure he adds you on Facebook. He can look at you all of the time without it being awkward for you. When you teach the English class you should talk in 90s slang and tell us how that goes. Also, use German words every now and then just to confuse them.
    As far as the bathroom goes, I’m sure Wal-Mart has a funnel. If the funnel idea doesn’t work out.. I’m sorry.
    By the way, this is Katz. I agree that Austin is a pretty cool guy.
    This is period 5. Read the last part first about which period it is so you aren’t confused.

    • I wonder who wrote this, is it Mr. Katsulas? Perhaps, that is scandalous! I taught them some cools words today. For example, I would say “Mr. Bundy is the best teacher in the world.” and they would say “WORD.”

      I am unfamiliar with the Katz concept of a funnel. Scandalous.

      Vlad has already found me on Facebook.

  4. Dobry Den Bundy!
    Are you in prison with Tom Cruise? from Julia and she says to bring her back a Ukranian pigeon
    Katherine and Jon picked up the floor and made a puzzle out of the paper 🙂 Leah says hi!
    Take more pictures of pigeons! Have more crazy experiences this weekend!-skyler Tyler says Shchaslyvo(Good Luck)!!!!!
    POKA! Period shist

    • Tom Cruise and I are hanging out this weekend. You will see the post on Monday. Hi Leah! I don’t understand the floor comment!? Is my floor still there?

  5. Dear Mr. Bundy,
    Luke misses you.. DJ would like to know where is the best places to grub on? Ashleigh says hey derrrr. 🙂 Karen was wondering if you gave the posters to the kids yet. We would all like to know if they celebrate 4/20 over there. DJ: Are there any krumpin’ parties? Do the Ukranians know how to krump or jerk? We miss you very much!
    Love, period 7 🙂

    • The food here is great. They feed me evryday in the school “canteen.” Yep, that’s what they call it. I have cucumbers and cheese. Then I get some mashed potatoes and meatballs. I get a box of apple juice to drink. I be grubbin on school food!

      I will give out the posters next Monday. I gave away the little plastic potato pins that say “Idaho” and the students were wearingthem around school. I gave the teachers daughter at the school my copy of the Hunger Games and the t-shirts will be going out Monday as well.

      Tell DJ that I am not confident onm y ability to discern a Krump or a jerk, but there are some pretty good street dancers here. I have video!

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