Dispatches from Ukraine -The train to Kyiv

The train to Kyiv – (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Special to the Bloomingtonian)

Lviv, Ukraine, March 20, 2022

By Matthew Hatcher – Special columnist for the Bloomingtonian

To get to Kyiv from Lviv, one must go first to the train station and wait in an endless line, sometimes hopping lines in a sea of refugees trying to go the opposite direction, to Poland. Tickets are 25 dollars and only one train leaves to Kyiv a day.

When we made our trip we spent the better part of 3 1/2 hours waiting in the lobby where children ran about playing with their toys while anxious mothers and grandmothers tried to get in touch with other loved ones. 

Finally, we made our way to the platform, dimly lit and fitting perfectly the mood of the hour. There was a smattering of us, not at all like the hordes that pass through the station during the daylight hours.

Here it was mostly men going to Kyiv to volunteer and fight, then us, going to cover the fighting.

As it was an overnight train ride we found ourselves sharing a compartment with a man named Max, a Kyiv resident who had earlier in the day seen his family off on a train bound for the Polish Border. He spoke little English but we managed to hold a light conversation between cigarette breaks as our train crossed in darkness across the war-torn country.

My sleep that night was some of the best sleep I’ve had yet on this trip, the gentle bobbing and rocking of the carriage lulled me quickly to sleep, alleviating for a few hours the anxiety and concerns I carried in my chest for what lay ahead.

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