This week I’m “liveblogging” my trip to Ukraine. Unlike traditional reports, these posts will be shorter and more frequent.
The trip report is not over, but a choice has arisen: take a train to Chișinău and fly out of Moldova or take a bus back to Warsaw?
My Dilemma: A Train To Chișinău, Moldova Or A Bus To Warsaw, Poland To Catch Flight Home
I had hoped to take the same train (“The Kyiv Express”) back to Warsaw that I had taken to Kyiv, but a different way back is necessary: not only is my preferred train sold out, but I cannot even buy tickets at the station if there is a no-show or last-minute cancellation.
She suggested I take a train to the border and then find my way over. I know this has been suggested by a knowledgeable reader as well, but I’m just not comfortable traveling to the border without knowing how I will get to Warsaw once I cross.
In traveling to 140 countries over the years, I’ve been in my fair share of border situations where you find yourself at the mercy of the taxi touts on the other side of the border and I am really in no mood for such drama, especially in the middle of the night in the harsh cold of winter.
I asked if there was space on the train to Chișinău, the capital city of Moldova. The agent checked and there was space…and sleeper accommodations available as well. The train departs at about 5:00 pm and arrives the following day just before noon.
Cool side note: this train service just resumed after a 24-year suspension thanks to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Next, I pulled up flights and saw that LOT Polish has a flight leaving Chișinău (KIV) at 2:45pm with a connection in Warsaw (WAW) to New York (JFK). That looked solid so I booked the flight instantly on my phone (using miles).
I haven’t been to Moldova or Transnistria in 12 years and the thought of spending a day or two there also crossed my mind.
But then I got to thinking about how late trains run and how long border formalities take. Even though nearly three hours to get from the train station to the airport should have been enough time even with a slight delay, I was not sure.
So I held off on buying a ticket in order to explore the bus options more.
Buses frequently from Kyiv to Warsaw and advertise power plugs, wi-fi, hot drinks, extra legroom, and bathrooms onboard. The (huge) downside, of course, is that you are still looking at a 15+ hour journey without a bed.
The other advantage to the train would be that I’d get home at a much more reasonable time (I’d arrive at 5:00 am and then take LOT Polish to London and connect on United to Los Angeles).
So those are the options. Any thoughts?