Thursday, December 29, 2011

Markets and Trains

D and I have had the nicest, slowest week, sleeping late in the mornings and then staying up late with friends. I've accumulated a ton of photos of cafes and Christmas trees and am putting together some photo-posts...coming soon.

In the meantime, we visited the ticket office to buy train tickets for Crimea. Crimea!! : )
The ticket office (касса) was kind of a depressing place. It's a looong narrow room with ticket windows on one side and a couple wooden benches on the others. All the windows work at different hours and cater to different things (one is for invalids, etc) so you should definitely bring a Russian-speaker along if you come here. The касса is a bit modernized in that you push a button, take a number, and wait for your number to be shown on a screen. It's like the DMV office. There's also another screen you can use to look up train schedules. I found it amusing that to search for trips on a specific date, instead of clicking "search" you move the cursor over an on-screen jackpot machine and pull the slot. Like gambling, yeah!

If you have a question and don't want to take a number and wait, you can pay 3 griven (37 cents) to talk to, um, how to best put this, a Ukrainian version of a customer service representative. She was kind of grumpy and didn't give us completely accurate information but it was worth a shot. Anyways, we ended up getting second-class tickets for this weekend. Second-class, or купе, means a closed room with 4 bunks. I've always enjoyed traveling купе. The cheapest option is плацкарт, an open car divided into 6 bunk sections and definitely not as pleasant as купе. They even offer first-class for this trip (люкс, luxury), a private room with 2 bunks, but it would cost 1200 griven ($150) for two tickets. Купе tickets cost us 440 griven, or $54. We'll arrive in Crimea just in time to spend New Year's Eve with D's relatives!
Tsentralnyi Rynok. Ukrainian: Центральний ринок. Russian: Центральный рынок. Or just plain old Central Market.
Today we went together to Central Market. This semester it usually fell to D to shop here on Sundays while I was slogging away through classes. It was the perfect afternoon to visit the market. The skies were finally clear, the wind slowed, the sun was shining (it was still freakin' cold though). Central Market offers almost every edible thing under the sun: fresh fruits and veggies, any possible kind or cut of meat (beef spines, etc), all kinds of homemade things (pickled watermelon, etc), cheeses, spices, everything. There were also a lot of dangerous-looking fireworks for sale, as in "Would you like to lose a hand this holiday season?" Secretive cigarette sellers are everywhere...they're usually young guys lurking by the side of a building, and as you pass they offer in a low voice to sell you cigarettes from Russia. Overall, I like this market more than the big one, Barabashova. It feels a little friendlier, the stalls are a bit more generously spaced to thin out the crowds, and it's a nice mix of covered areas and open areas, whereas Barabashova feels like a giant rat maze.

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