ми знайшли віконницями кіоск 20/02/2012Posted by brendan in Avions, Trains et Voitures.
Tags: Boryspil International Airport, kiev, kyiv, tourism, travel, ukraine, wizz air
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A dead cat lay in front of the entrance. Not in the parking lot where a careless driver could have sent the poor thing hurtling to its demise. Not tucked behind trash bags near a side door, nor hidden beneath shrubs running along the walkway. A dead cat lay directly in front of the entrance to Ukraine’s premiere international transportation hub.
Future travelers lining the terminal wall blew a constant haze of smoke over the corpse. Restless teenagers chattered on cell phones while pacing around the body. Defeated arrivals dragged squirming children and cheap luggage past the sad display.
Life was equally grim inside the dim interior of Boryspil International Airport. Once nothing more than a military airstrip converted into a limited weigh-station for visiting comrades from Moscow or Leningrad, decades of development and expansion couldn’t scrub the bus station fingerprints from the flickering departures board or endless rows of uncomfortable plastic chairs. Desperate officials lusting after 2012 Euro Cup dollars are bankrolling new buildings but for now the locals are left to fend for themselves.
The locals clustered in groups of multigenerational excess and stared through us as we sought the Wizz Air counter. We found a shuttered kiosk and convinced each other that, as our flight was not scheduled for several hours, there was no need to panic. The fact that the kiosk didn’t have the capacity to handle luggage checking or that our tickets were from a company that didn’t have business enough to maintain staff throughout the morning gnawed at our bellies and caused painful grumbling.
Or maybe that was just Janice needing to eat again, never satisfied with one daily meal bolstered by frequent injections of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. After wandering back and forth through miles of contiguous waiting room filled with rheumatic babushkas but no food-court inspired cardiac shacks we fell in with a troupe of youngsters dressed in hyperbolic period costumes. One babbled Ukrainian and offered us a cartoon pamphlet. One babbled Russian and offered us a cartoon pamphlet. They finally found the one among them who spoke English, and he handed us a cartoon pamphlet saying, “This is your ticket.”
The cartoon pamphlet depicted a table ladened with food and happy tourists, one of whom carried a surfboard.
Our guide led us upstairs past airport employees, stewardesses and pilots into what usually constitutes a secure area. There were no machine gun toting soldiers, German shepherds or even slumbering rent-a-cops to question us until we reached the restaurant. A very large man took our bags, added them to the neat pile at his feet, then he stood watching them.
Service did not smile when we ordered off the appetizer menu and refused drinks. Sure, we could have easily bought five courses and shots for the staff but our stash of hryvnia was dwindling and the idea of being caught without cash, or finding an ATM and being caught with too much cash, had brought the penny-pinching poverty beast out of its cage. Janice had a couple potato dumplings with cheese and mushroom, I had a slice of bread with garlic oil, the waiter negotiated for change through the narrow opening of a secured money-room door and the very large man returned our bags without any suggestion we might like to offer him a tip.
Near the still shuttered Wizz Air kiosk lies a modern addition to the Soviet nostalgia of Boryspil’s cattle car charm. Sleek lines, recessed lighting and chrome said hello and gave us both a bear hug. The bartender sent drinks to our table where we sat watching a shifting row of stragglers rent time on computers. A girl updated her Ukrainian Facebook page. One of us checked to see if they had opened the kiosk yet. A business man browsed local escort services. One of us checked to see if they had opened the kiosk yet. A couple teenaged girls sat next to the business man who nearly had a fit trying to make all of the wonton nudity disappear. One of us checked to see if they had opened the kiosk yet. A girl video conferenced with a cat.
Someone had the brilliant idea of looking past the shuttered Wizz Air kiosk, but it wasn’t me. Just around the corner we found the entire corridor clogged with Wizz Air passengers climbing on one another to check their bags. Collared priests scrabbled at scarred gangsters while hysterical mothers beat their fists on the counter. Janice noticed a confused Pole near the edge of the melée who kept checking the ticket clenched in his wavering hand. Follow him. We surged forward, we fell back, we fought to keep our feet and slowly we gained ground.
Beyond lay a different world. This looked like an airport with arching ceilings and girders and carpeting and security guards. We wandered through the metal detectors and looked for the humorless men who would interrogate us in foreign, shine flashlights in our faces, take our passports and leave us alone for hours. But no one gave a shit. I could have smuggled a dwarf through if I’d thought to bring a dwarf.