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  • Writer's pictureSigurður Traustason

A Week in Ukraine !


Three weeks have passed since I travelled to Ukraine. The reason for the trip? Well to meet someone I have been conversing with for 9 or 10 months now.

Last July, I attempted this mission but due to Covid and, I guess a lack of research, I wasn't able to make it all the way. I was stranded at Luton Airport in England for hours and hours before getting back to Iceland, depressed and disappointed.

Iceland has been surviving Covid pretty well now. We have been having 0 infections for weeks and we have remained a Green Zone for months now I think. Due to being a Green Zone, I was able to travel to Ukraine now with very little restrictions. Although there is always a risk, that some border guard might not be aware of the rules or someone just decides to be nasty and powerful, I decided to try again on the 20th of February. So two weeks prior, I purchased four flight tickets. Unfortunately there is no direct flight to Ukraine from here and since England was and is a blood-red zone, I decided to try my luck transiting through Poland.

With by last attempt being a failure, I went deep down in my research mode trying to figure out everything I needed, everything I might need and everything that would give me extra probability. The only thing I was required to have, according to to the Ukrainian government, was medical insurance. So what did I do? I went and got 5 of them. Additionally, I also applied for a Covid PCR test here in Iceland for extra safety at the airports, though especially meant for my transit through Poland.

Well, going a little ahead, I made it all the way to Ukraine. But it wasn't completely uneventful. And no, not really because of Covid.

As I sat down in my first plane on my way to Poland, glad that I got so far at least, it really started to occur to me that something wasn't right after waiting onboard for some 40-50 minutes.....yes of course....the plane was broken. Something technical was wrong. We had to wait 20 minutes for just a technician to arrive and then another god knows how many minutes or hours for that technician to look at the problem only to tell us that it can't be fixed.

We were sent back to the terminals, me sweating from my profusely raised blood pressure and in a sort of state of panic or almost some traumatizing delirium. It is these moments that make atheists like me think for a split second that there must be some demonic, evil entity wishing upon you all the misfortune possible.

We were sent to a nearby hotel in Keflavík to stay until a new flight would be confirmed. Since I missed my transit flight obviously due to this, I had to figure out what to do: Take this new flight to Poland and then once there figure out how to get to Ukraine or cancel everything and just go home.

Well, having failed once already, it didn't take me long to decide to take that plane no matter what. After a while, the flight was confirmed later that evening. I found a computer at the hotel lobby, so riddled with viruses, worms, trojan horses and god knows what else that I thought it might miraculously transfer those computer viruses to my biological body. I scanned...Skyscanner for any flights from Poland to Kyiv and luckily enough, I found flight that would not even require a long wait after my arrival to Poland. I asked a nice Polish girl there at the hotel whether I should buy the ticket now online or if she thought I could safely buy it at the airport in Poland. I was glad she told me the Polish airport had a very easy layout and it would be easy for me to just wait until there to purchase the ticket.

Well, I made it to Poland after a 3 or 4 hour flight. Arriving at Chopin Airport at 3 or 4 at night, I had to wait a couple of hours for the ticket booth to open. Purchasing the new ticket went smoothly and I was able to board the next flight again with no problem. No one asked for any insurance, any test, nothing.

The flight to Kyiv was a short one, just over an hour. Only at the airport in Kyiv was there an actual problem. I was confronted by border guards that all looked ready to wage war. I approached one, sure that they were just asking for medical insurances, but no, he asked me for a negative Covid test. I showed him my test but unfortunately he spotted the date, realizing that the Covid test was actually too old to be valid. I tried to explain my flight was cancelled and it was the only reason for my test being too old. I showed him the rules for Iceland, how coming from Iceland required no self isolation and no tests or anything....he inspected it for a while and told me to get an app to monitor my phone, like a Covid tracing app so many countries have now. I had it already and activated it, even knowing I wasn't supposed to quarantine. While the guard was busy with someone else, another guard called to me and asked to see my phone. He looked at the app confirmation and said "Go on". I decided to leave my papers with the other guard. I wasn't going to try my luck talking to him again and hearing some reason why I could not enter.

The only obstacle left was the actual security booth. I was a little worried now since I had so gracefully given the border guard two of my documents. But my method for the security booth: Drown the person with a speech while handing over my passport and showing her my bible-thick stack of papers to scare her into thinking: "Yeah no I'm not going through that stack he can go right through." And it worked like a charm. I straightened my back and switched on my business man voice and made her believe I was a man on a mission. A man here to save an economy from crumbling.

As she stamped my passport and let me through I almost wanted to crouch down and cry from relief. As much as I wanted to rush through and out, I put my insurance bible into my bag to finally get rid of it (it was heavier than one might think) before meeting my driver outside.

The drive to the apartment I had reserved was a full 40-50 minutes drive. The driver was comfortable thankfully. Since I was a day late to arrive in Kyiv, the lovely person I was to meet had already spent one day and night there. As I was lead to the apartment, I presumed that she was out but surprisingly I walked right into her waiting there in the room.

The five following days I spent in Kyiv...I can tell you this trip is one of the best decisions I've made and these five days some of my better days. The first day, we walked around Kyiv with a lovely friend of hers who lives in Kyiv. The days went by too quickly but it was enough time to figure out what a sweet person I met.

Since this is an actor's website, I suppose I should say I visited a Ukrainian Theater! No not just to see see a play!

Now one might think a play makes no sense in a foreign language you don't understand. Well it certainly didn't make sense but it is amazing how a great

performance can still move you, regardless of the language.

I am now waiting eagerly for nothing else but a chance to visit again and I will the minute it is viable. I haven't been eagerly waiting for the vaccine but now I have a very good reason to get it as soon as possible. I scour the news sites every day for any positive news about vaccine distribution in Iceland and when vaccinations are hoped to be finished. My goal not to be able to be without a mask everywhere or be safe from Covid, but only to travel without restrictions to Ukraine again.

Until next time!

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