I cant remember if I told you, but this year I joined a Samba Band (buying my own small drum, much to the delight of my husband). At the end of April the opportunity arose to travel to Kiev for a meeting with our sister bands from around Europe, and the chance for a good old knees up in a relatively secluded area so as not to upset the locals - or at least a few as possible with a band of over 100 drummers :).
Accompanying me on my journey were two lovely band members (when I say accompanying I mean they planned it and I brought a ticket).
The first leg of the journey was straight forward and relatively dull - we got a bus to Vienna, which took 25hrs. We saw Dover, the euro tunnel (gasp), Calais, Lille, Brussels and slept through a massive amount of German motorway before hitting Vienna mid morning.
From here on it was easy - team London picked up the "just tag along with people who are more organised" routine . After spending 2 days doing touristy bits we hit the road again, this time a train to Budapest.
A few members of the Vienna band had managed to hitchhike and would be meeting us at the station in Budapest for the onward journey. All this sounded terribly organised, and of course therefore didn't work out quite so well. We arrived at the train station in Vienna with plenty of time to spare - only to realise that one of the band members was at the wrong station, luckily loading 10 people with massive bags and drums is quite time consuming and she managed to just make it. Then of course the train was delayed and we missed our connection, but not to worry as team hitchhiker were on the case to find a back-up route, which we made with minutes to spare... we were on our way to the border.
All was going well until we hit passport security in the Ukraine. The youngest amongst us had forgotten his passport and wouldn't be allowed in to the country. I on the other hand was unable to pass through for reasons that were never revealed to me. The nice man (and he was nice) found a problem with my passport which was then taken away. Then he disappeared. Everyone else passed through and were ushered out and still I stood there. Eventually I was taken in to another room, where the other band member was still having issues with his lack of passport. Eventually a translator turned up - who was clearly at the end of her shift as she couldn't wait to leave. When I asked her about what was happening with my passport she looked at me like I was mental and disappeared. Ordinarily this wouldn't have concerned me (I get it all the time) but we did have a train to catch in 20 mins.
Out of the blue (or more accurately out of another room) man in a marvellous hat (obviously in charge) returned with my passport and I was sent on my way. That's it. No explanation.
Train tickets were speedily brought, stray band members rounded up, and we were on our way to Kiev.