We finally arrived! Our flight over was uneventful except that I couldn’t sleep very well on the plane, so I was majorly jet lagged. Kiev is 7 hours ahead of Boston time, so I basically tried my best to stay awake until 10pm so I could get into a normal sleeping routine.
Some tips about navigating the airport – after we got off the plane, and were led to line up according to your passport. We stood in the “All Passports” line and waited until it was our turn. The unsmiling lady working the booth did not say one word to us as we gave our passports to her to stamp. Good news is that there is no paperwork to fill out for a visa – and apparently, no interview either, as we just got our passports back silently and were motioned to move on. We walked to baggage claim and picked up our bags, and then went to customs. In the customs line, there are two clearly marked paths that are green or red – with green meaning nothing to declare, and red meaning you have nothing to declare. So we went ahead and walked through the green path, and was surprised to find that we had walked straight out to the pickup line! Best customs process ever!
We searched to see if anyone was holding the BioTexCom sign to indicate that they were there to pick us up, but no one was there! We realized then that we had arrived a bit early, so the driver might not be there yet. During that time while waiting, we had to continuously decline offers from aggressive taxi drivers multiple times, so expect to be saying no quite a bit. There is a purple taxi stand at the exit, and it is there where the BioTexCom driver gets the sign to hold up, so stick around that area, and someone will be there soon. Our driver showed up shortly thereafter, holding the sign, so soon we were off to be driven to the Venice Hotel, where we will be staying for the next 5 weeks. The drive to the hotel was about 35 minutes, but it went quickly because we were busy looking at the sights through the drive. Note that we had absolutely no conversation with the driver, probably because he couldn’t speak English. It is important to realize that our American super friendly culture should not be expected in Ukraine, where you regularly say hi to strangers and make small talk. This doesn’t mean that they do not like you, they just don’t know you, but once you approach someone, they will be extremely helpful.
So far, the best way to describe Kiev for me is that is reminds me of Beijing and Mexico City, with its many tall apartment buildings and crazy traffic. You might recognize some brands like Domino’s and KFC, which we plan to try at some point! Since we will be here for 5 weeks, we will be doing quite a bit of exploring on our days off from the clinic, so we look forward to sharing those bits with you.