First impressions of Kiev

Last week, I visited Kiev – which is the capital of Ukraine – for a couple of days. Before I forget why it was special, I would like to share some of my initial impressions of this fascinating place.

UkraineImmigration at the airport was effective and painless, although the officials were as stern and humourless as those types always seem. The airport is also not very large (at least compared to Heathrow The Monster) and I was outside quickly.

Here, I was met by a driver holding a sign, and as I nodded to him he walked off, leaving me to follow him into the car park. The walk was short and I got in after him, asking him if he had been waiting long.

“No English”, he said and smiled. This turned out to be quite common – most Ukrainians know Ukrainian and Russian, and not much else. Not too far from most English, who know both English and American.

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Waiting for luggage

I have just arrived in London on a flight from Ottawa in Canada, and I’m
still waiting for my luggage.

What galls me in particular about this is that I have been waiting for
more than an hour, and before then waited for half an hour on the
runway. The plane touched down close to 2 hours ago, which ought to be
enough to get my suitcase from there to here, but apparently isn’t.

Since I flew business class, I thought I would go and ask some of the
nice staff about the reason for the delay, and perhaps gain a little
insight into the length of the expected delay. Air Canada normally
treats business customers very well: we fly often and are their bread
and butter.

The guy at the Air Canada desk clearly doesn’t know this. After
glancing at the two colleagues sitting idly next to him he told me it
would be a while “because there is no driver”. This strikes me as odd,
since a bunch of luggage from the flight did appear after about 10
minutes’ wait – just not mine, of course. Did the driver die, or fall
sick, or did his shift end while he was driving my suitcase?

Mr Unhelpful doesn’t know how long it will take to get a driver to where
my luggage is waiting, but seems to think that another hour is likely to
pass. At least – who really cores? My suggestion that one of the 3 idle
Air Canada arrivals people (of whom he is one) could help in some way is
met with a shrug and a disbelieving look. Perhaps it’s a union thing.

Whatever it is, it’s pissing me off. My luggage still hasn’t arrived,
and there is neither a cafe nor a smoking area until after you have
passed through customs. Which you can’t do until your luggage has arrived.

I do realize that smoking is a horrible antisocial thing to do, but I
quite enjoy it. And after flying for 7 hours and waiting for 2 more, I’m
about as ready for one as it’s possible to be. But my luggage is waiting
for a driver…

Allan (via bb)

Update: In total, it took almost 3 hours to get the luggage. And just
to add insult to injury, my suitcase was broken when I got it: the
handle could not be extended. Mr Unhelpful this time gave me a phone
number to call: “They will arrange for it to be repaired”. Well, thanks
a lot! 🙁