The next day was hot again. My first target was to buy a train ticket to Odesa, a task made much easier through being accompanied by April, a traveller from Australia who I’d met in the hostel. At the train ticket office, we wrote out our ticket requirements in Cyrillic and joined a queue. As we chatted, a lady in front of us asked us if we would like her to help us buy our tickets, and she turned out to be a lifesaver. Both the trains we wanted (mine to Odesa and April’s to Lviv) were full and we’d have struggled without a Ukrainian-speaker to help us book alternative trains.
Our trains sorted, we headed out to see more sights, and we took the metro to Dnipro station. The metro cost only 50 kopeks, or about five pence, for a ride, and it was almost as grand and impressive as Moscow’s. Dnipro station was near to the Pecherska Lavra, a monastery founded around some caves in 1051 and regarded as Ukraine’s most important sight. We bought candles and wandered through the caves, passing coffins containing the mummified remains of long-dead monks. Then we walked along to a more modern symbol of Ukraine nearby: Rodina Mat, a towering Socialist realist statue of a woman holding a sword. She is 60 metres tall and stands over the Museum of the Great Patriotic War. Around the museum are various relics of Ukraine’s Soviet history, with statues and sculptures commemorating the Soviet Hero Cities and the USSR’s military victories.