Kiev, Ukraine — Friday, July 1st

Three capitals in three days

This is quite a trip: three capitals in three days! Overland from Simferopol, the capital of the autonomous Republic of Crimea, through Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine, and on to Moscow, the capital of Russia, in two nights and a day — just over thirty six hours.

I began this journey yesterday evening, traveling by car from Yalta, along the Black Sea coast to the resort town of Alusta, then up through the hills to Simferopol, which is about 120 km (75 miles) northeast of Balaclava, the scene of one of the most famous battles of the Crimean War (1854), which featured the Charge of the Light Brigade.

The overnight train to Kiev left Simferopol at nine-thirty, and two hours later crossed over into the Ukraine at Novooleksivka, where the Sea of Azov washes up against the mainland...

For three hours we travel north to Zaporizhzhya, then west for four hours to Dnipropetrovsk, Verhovnevo and Oleksandriya, before snaking northwest through Chevchenko, Myronivska, and Tripolli for the final five hours, to trundle into Kiev at two o' clock in the afternoon. We have been traveling for eighteen hours, but are only halfway there: we still have eighteen hours to go.

We have just ninety minutes in Kiev; we switch trains, and at three-thirty, the overnight train to Moscow pulls out of the capital city, and we head north to Chernigiv, then east to Konotop, before again heading north to Russia.

We are woken sometime before midnight, somewhere in the middle of nowhere, by the Ukrainian border guards, and again, miles after we have crossed the border, at Bryansk.

All my papers are in order, but I guess they don't get many South Africans coming through here, because all the guards poke their heads into my compartment to get a glimpse of the man from Yuzhno Afrika.

Now I'll try to get some sleep again, as we speed through the night, north-northeast to Sukhinichi, Kaluga, and (finally!) Moscow. We should arrive in this third capital city in as many days shortly after seven o' clock...

Moscow, Russia — Saturday, July 2nd

Meeting in Moscow

A flashing red sign at Moscow's Ladozhsky railway station informs us that it is 13°C (65°F). The last time I was in Moscow — eighteen months ago — it was 28°C degrees colder than it is today...

Radha Raman Prabhu picks me up at the railway station and drives me to the temple in Kiselny, where Sripad Avadhut Maharaj welcomes me. Three hours later, Sripad Siddhanti Maharaj arrives from Siberia, looking good after his successful preaching tour in Tomsk and Krasnoyarsk, which culminated in the "river raft festival" on the Mana River.

The three of us have been traveling for weeks, visiting our many Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math centers in the Ukraine, Crimea, Siberia, and Russia, so it is good to kick back and relax with my two senior godbrother sannyasis, and compare notes, as it were, at our main temple in Red Square.

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Layout by iMonk — July 2nd, 2005.