I often travel to exhibit my textile art works and have visited Japan, Texas, Bratislava and Vilnius among many other places showing my work in solo, group exhibitions and biennials. In 2012 I was invited to exhibit in Kherson in the south of Ukraine. When I told my wife she said she didn’t want to fly and asked if we could we go by train.

We went into a travel agents and asked the question receiving a very negative reply and quizzical looks. I told my Dad and he suggested we get in touch with a company called Ffestiniog Travel who will help you organise rail journeys across the world. A few days later we received our itinerary travelling from Northallerton to Brussels via Eurostar on day one arriving in Koln in Germany early in the evening to eat Pizza in a bar in the city.

At the end of the first day from Koln we caught the overnight train to Warsaw. A good sleeping car with beds so comfortable that when my wife tried to wake me to tell me the train was going through Berlin I looked up, saw the sign and fell fast a sleep again.

It was nearing midday when we arrived in Warsaw with crowds of football supporters there for the world cup. We selected a street restaurant for lunch and sat watching the crowds go by.


After a good refreshing lunch ( pictured above) we were ready for the next leg of our journey – a bus ride across Warsaw to a train station heading south by overnight train to Kiev. What we didn’t realise before then was that in Ukraine trains run on different gauge rails to the rest of Europe. Just after midnight the train pulled into an engine shed on the border between Poland and Ukraine where they checked our passports and changed the wheels on the train. In the morning we arrived in Kiev a beautiful city where the light shines off the golden dome of St Catherine’s Cathedral.

Our four day train journey didn’t finish there. After a day exploring Kiev we found our way to the station and the overnight train to Kherson. The guard told us to shut the door and the window and after another night on a train where the comfort and quality had deteriorated more and more as we continued on our train journey across Europe we arrived in the hot early morning of a Ukraine summer day. Climbing over the train tracks we orientated ourselves to where we were in the city and, exhausted by the journey, hailed a taxi to take us to our hotel. After four days travelling by train we were glad to be there.

Dr Robert Burton

Associate Dean International

School of Arts and Creative Industries

View my artworks and website here


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