My readers often ask me, “Little Miss Moi, how do you move about the city of Kyiv?” (I made that up. My readers couldn’t be faffed to ask me about that, but I’ll answer the question anyway).
I have four main means of transport around Kyiv. Here they are, ranked from most frequently used to least frequently used:
- On foot
- On the Kyiv Metro
- In a taxi
- Being driven by someone else’s driver.
Today’s lesson will focus on the Kyiv Metro.
My experience on the metro here is that it’s fast, reliable, clean and a great spot to see some bad fashion. I’ve previously alluded to how deep the metro stations are, and this Wikipedia article gives you a good run down of the metro altogether (notice the big map? Bold names in Ukrainian, lesser names in Russian. This is why I have so much trouble learning the darn lingo).
To ride anywhere on the metro costs 50 kopioks or kopeks, which is about 12 cents Aussie, about 10 cents US, and 5 pence sterling. To travel, you buy a zhiton (token) from the kassa (cashier), slot the token into the gate and jump on the escalator to go down.
The only bad thing about the Kyiv metro is that there are no signs in latin letters (i.e. ours), and the only time one sees a route map that isn’t written in Cyrillic, is once you’re on the train. Not a lot of help if you then find you’re going in the totally wrong direction. This makes is hard for people like Mr Moi, who still hasn’t learned the whole Cyrillic alphabet.
There’s one confusing thing about the metro, but works OK once you get used to it. In, for example, Sydney, the Town Hall station has about six platforms because there are four of five lines running through it*. But regardless of the line, the station is called Town Hall.
In Kyiv, when you come to a station where there’s two lines running through, each line’s platform has a different name. Albeit, the platforms for the two lines are usually separated by a two or three minute underground walk too. So, for example, the stop Maidan Nezalezhnosti is on the blue line. There is also a red line stop at that station: Kreshchatyk. Different lines, different names, same station. It actually makes it easy when you’ve arranged to meet someone at the station, as the margin for error is considerably more narrow (I’ll meet you at Kreshchatyk is much more definitive than I’ll meet you on the third platform from the entrance, fifty furloughs from the northbound tunnel).
Now, let me have a rant about the Tube in London. It’s small, it’s dingy, and, even if you’re at a major travel hub station, they DON’T have lifts. So, for example, I forked out 15 pounds to ride into Paddington Station from Heathrow at 6:30am, because I was at the end of a 27 hour transit from Australia. This is a lot of money, but I was exhausted and wanted to get to my brother’s house ASAP. And my suitcase weighed 27kgs.
When I arrived at Paddington, I had to then catch the Tube six stops to get to my brother’s place. So I followed the signs to the Tube. First, down some escalators. Then, down some stairs (bang, bang, BANG went my suitcase). Then, through a tunnel and UP some stairs! The effort of pulling of my up the stairs almost pulled my arm off.
Then back down some more stairs, and onto the Tube. Then repeated the same pully-uppy shitehouse routine when I got off the other end.
Where the London Tube is warren-like, the Kyiv Metro is cavernous. Where the London Tube has stairs, the Kyiv metro has escalators. Where the London Tube trains are tiny and slow, the Kyiv Metro trains are a normal size and go rather quick.
I could go on and on, but I won’t. I’ll leave it right there.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this lesson on the Kyiv Metro.
*I just made up these numbers.