Saturday, August 25, 2012

A few days in Munich and the great bus journey

Coming back to Munich after my trip to Amsterdam felt like coming home.  It was nice to be back where things and people were familiar.  I met Mario at the train station and surprised him with Ayran and sour gummies.  It was so great to see him again! It was HOT back in Munich so we went to the pool before cooking dinner and watching Alien 1 (NOT my idea).  It wasn't so bad though and really not scary - this coming from the girl who 110% doesn't do horror films.  Sunday we saw all of the critters in the Munich zoo, including the most ugly bearded pig.  You see, it was our goal to seek out the ugliest animal in the zoo because, well, we like ugly critters.  The zoo in Munich is really worth visiting.  You can easily spend the better part of a day there.  After the zoo we headed to the bank of the Isar river nearby.  In the evening we again cooked dinner, talked to Nastia for a few minutes on Skype, and watched The Great Outdoors! I have watched that movie already a hundred times in my childhood, so he of course also had to see it sooner or later.  As usual I laughed my head off and Mario also found it funny - Yay! Monday was my final day in Munich and we again went to the pool after walking in the center a short bit and realizing in such weather water is the only option.  In the evening I went to Unterhaching to visit the family one more time.  Regina met me at the door with a hug and "Chelsea I've missed you!!".  I had missed them too! We had dinner together and just hung out a bit before I headed back to the center.  It was sad to leave them, but that finally meeting provided some closure and I know I will see them again.  Back in the center we just relaxed because it was really hot in the apartment. It stormed during the night though and that brought the temperature down a little.
Tuesday morning was the sad goodbye.  We went by car to the bus station since Mario was also headed to home and waited for the bus to arrive.  After loading my luggage we waited together until the last moment and I hurried onto the bus.  After waving until we couldn't see each other anymore and then the tears began to fall.  I didn't want to make a fool of myself on a bus full of people I didn't know, so I held it in as much as a could. It wasn't easy though.  I was excited to be on the road to Ukraine, but there is also that small fear that accompanies the beginning of a journey.  I was leaving the city I had called home for over two months - what had become my comfort zone.  And, of course, it was also a goodbye to Mario, made only a little less sad knowing that it would be not quite two weeks apart.
And so the journey began! The 30 hour bus trip from Munich to Kiev! I realized once I got on the bus that, in my opinion, I had the best seat on the bus. I had a window seat next to a friendly babushka.  We were in the row after the second door of the bus, so instead of the usual folddownfromthechairinfrontofyou trays we had a long, wide, sturdy "table" in front of us.  That also meant no neighbors in front of us leaning their seats back and I could stretch my legs out straight until the table.  And when we made stops (we stopped every four hours to use the bathroom and stretch) I could zip out the door quickly and avoid a long bathroom line.  We crossed the border from Poland to Ukraine between 2 and 4 am (yes, it was a 2 hour ordeal) and were in Kiev by about 3 PM Wednesday. Crossing the border into Ukraine I was filled with an anxious excitement hard to explain.  Last summer in Ukraine I made so many good memories, which came flooding back as I caught sight of "Ukraine" written on the border station.   Everyone on the bus spoke Russian as a first language except me, but I was able to hold my own and chatted with my neighbor a bit as well as withe some girls closer to my age.  In general the trip went by quickly and wasn't too difficult.  I could tell that the attitude of the bus was "we're all in this together" and "we're going to make the best of this trip", as everyone was chatting, sharing food, watching movies and comedians together, and keeping the bus quiet when people were trying to sleep.  For some people I think such a trip would seem daunting, but I embraced it as just another adventure. For 75 euros I got much more than just a cheap ride to Kiev - I gained an experience I will never forget!

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