By now we have spent about 44 hours on trains in the last few weeks which has been pretty full on. All overnight trains, the first two we took first class and the last two second.
First class cabins are for two people which is perfect for us, your bunk is already made and the loos aren't too bad. It was a good way to go for us being new here, relatively luxurious really.
Second class holds four people, you hire sheets and make your bunk up yourself and by the end of the journey the loos are for emergencies only.
On our first second class trip from Odesa to Lviv we shared with a couple called Pavel (Paul) and Olga who both had some English which was great. Paul was from Prague and Olga from Odesa but living in Prague. They cracked out the wine (from Crimea, more of a port than anything) and food (Olga's mother's Paella made with mussels Paul caught off Odesa hmmm) and were so generous we felt bad for only having cheese, bread and juice to share.
We had a great time talking to them both and learning a few odds and bods about Ukraine, such as why every single man seems to be called Sasha, turns out it is a shortening of Alexander which is a very common name, seems every man in the country shares the name.
Half way through the Paella Paul pulled a tiny pearl out of his mussel which was pretty cool. We have a funny feeling we may have ingested one or two ourselves.
On our second shared trip we had a couple of fellows early in the trip who looked like they had never clapped eyes on a set of backpackers then a lovely lady called Elina who had very little English but flicked through our phrase book for ages to make conversation. Turns out she is a single mother who is a soldier at the local airport, we have her address now so we may have to polish up our written Ukrainian.
The whole train thing has been quite an exciting process really, something we had planed for a long time and to have everything work out was wonderful.
Photo: Adam keeping busy playing snakes and ladders on the train (sorry it is sideways, we have no way of turning it)