Our intrepid duo hit the potholed streets of the Ukraine, and find that although the citizens are more friendly than their Moldovan neighbours, their police are very insistent too.[Not a valid template]
In Romania, we were ready to try our luck at the Moldavian border for a second time. After providing all the supposed required documents, everything seemed to be going to plan until we were denied again. Not ideal, but we soon put Plan B into action. We drove north for three hours to the Romanian/Ukraine border to try our luck there.
Fortunately for us, the Ukrainians seem much more hospitable than the Moldavans, and with forms filled in and passports checked, we finally got the stamp of approval we needed, and were let into the Ukraine. It was hard containing our excitement but we did so until border control was out of ear shot.
Again, just when Ukraine was making us feel warm and fuzzy inside, it brought us roughly down to earth. The notoriously awful roads – more potholes than tarmac – didn’t help. Then, a few hours in, we were pulled over by the police. On roundabouts in the Ukraine, you have to give way to anyone looking to join the flow of traffic. Obviously we had no idea of this, took what we thought was our right of way on said roundabout, and got a hefty fine as a result. Lesson learnt!
After this we weren’t in the best of moods, and driving in the Ukraine is pretty exhausting. The alphabet is no longer familiar, complete with all sorts of symbols and hieroglyphics. So the names we would use to describe their cities are completely different when written down: Kiev for example is KniB in Ukrainian.
This is very confusing when using an English map to navigate from city to town to city. Fortunately, thanks to a generous random stranger, we found ourselves a hotel for the night.
After checking in, we headed to the restaurant over the road but were hit with a massive menu all in Ukrainian. We were obviously struggling to speak to the waiter, because we soon heard this voice from behind us saying she spoke English. Svetlana is a beautiful Ukrainian girl fresh from studying in Holland and was more than happy to help translate the extensive menu for us. So Svetlana, thank you so much for your help.
To help our second day of driving in the Ukraine, we got ourselves a little road map, and we also started to find our own vocalisations for these new names. This made it easier for us to recognise and understand road signs, and meant we could actually go in the direction we wanted. They are are not the correct pronunciation, obviously, and in all likelihood make no sense to anyone else save Jess and I, but when you are on a busy Ukrainian road and you see 3ham’Rhka on a sign, it is easier to yell Birmingham Shakira than 3 H A M R H K A (the English name for this town is Znam’yanka if you were wondering, but that was never on any of the local street signs).
So we left XmenBunk (or ???n????????? in Ukriane, and Khmelnytskyi in English), and headed for B’ham Shakira. Fortunately the roads were significantly better on the motorways but they were not without potholes. We were also stopped by the police again, supposedly for going too fast (if that’s even possible on the potholed roads). At least this time I knew how to handle the questions and got away with sliding a few notes under their clipboard.
When we arrived at B’ham Shakira, we couldn’t find a hotel but finally stumbled upon a railway station with a restaurant outside of it. I quickly ran inside and asked if anyone knew where a hotel was, and a lovely lady called Victoria sitting outside pointed us in the right direction of a motel, so long as we would come back for a bite to eat. Which we did.
Finally in bed we contemplated the distances we had covered, more gorgeous stray dogs that we wanted to home, and even more sunflowers, but also the number of kilometres we would have to cover tomorrow to hit Russia.
– Find out how you can contribute to this charitable drive by clicking HERE, and find out where Mike and Jess are today by clicking HERE