Sisua Rajalle! - Osa 8 - Kiova ja kotimatka

Sisua Rajalle! - Part 8 - Kyiv and going home

With all our commitments completed, most of us finally had a day to ourselves. We had breakfast and then headed out to explore the city's major tourist attractions, buy some souvenirs, and enjoy what Kyiv had to offer. The city really showed its best side, with brilliant sunshine drawing locals out in large numbers to parks, squares, and outdoor cafés.

However, before we could head out, the air raid siren went off again. We chose to err on the side of caution and went down to the hotel's bomb shelter in part of the parking garage, where we sat for a while joking about various things before we got bored and went back up. The alarm also ended shortly after, once again without anything coming towards Kyiv. Then we ventured out into the city.

We visited the exhibition of destroyed Russian vehicles, the Wall of Heroes' Memory, Maidan with its sea of flags - one for each fallen soldier, the beautiful viewing bridge over the Dnipro, and the souvenir sales at St. Andrew's Church. We had a delicious lunch at a Georgian restaurant and finally enjoyed a couple of beers on a terrace in the sun. Eventually, it became a bit stressful as, due to a miscalculation with the time, we had to hurry to the train station. To top it off, our taxi was also stopped by the police, so we were already considering alternatives in case we missed the train. In the end, we managed to reach the train station in reasonably good time, and not even the tens of meters long queue through security was slow enough to cause problems. With several minutes to spare, we finally sat on the train to Poland. Our journey home had begun.

Since all regular air traffic to and from Ukraine is suspended due to the war, getting to and from Kyiv is not the easiest task. In my case, it involved first a ten-hour train ride to a border station just inside the Polish border, a long queue for passport control, then another train to Krakow for three hours, a change to the train to Warsaw, and an additional two hours there. Then some time-killing in the city and finally moving to the airport and flying home to Finland. From the moment we got into the taxi at our hotel in Kyiv until I am home in Helsinki, it will take roughly 30 hours, assuming everything goes somewhat according to plan—I'm still on the train, an hour from Warsaw as I write this.

In conclusion, I want to say that it has been an incredibly rewarding journey that has given me new perspectives and even more motivation to continue helping in the ways I can. The Ukrainians are incredibly resourceful and, under the unimaginably monstrous Russian assault, they are doing everything they can to win, and with everyone's help, it's fully realistic. We must not tire, because they do not either.

That said, I am certainly looking forward to a shower and my own bed. Thank you for following along on the journey!

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