GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)|
Ukraine covers an area of 603.500 square kilometres, and its government is Unitary semi-presidential republic. Here are around 43.000.000 citizens of which 93% are Christians and 6% have no religion. The currency is Ukrainian hryvnia (UAH), worth 0,26 Danish Krone. The GDP is US$87 billion.
The climate is mostly a temperate climate, with the
exception of the southern coast of Crimea which has a subtropical climate.
After well over an hour, I reach Kamyanets-Podilsky, which is a huge new town, with an ancient part in the middle. It lies in an almost closed horseshoebend of the river, and is in the middle of being given a complete makeover. It have a lot of churches, old houses and copplestone streets. Within a year or two, it will be a lovely tourist trap.
I find my hotel, but the price is a bit steep. The receptionist recommends a hostel down the street; Art House. It is three months old, and look like a four star hotel. The price is a quarter. I head out in the old city to get some cash and dinner. Here are more tourist shops than Moldova have in total. It is getting late, and I head back to work. It turns out, I have the dorm to my self. The road to Kamyanets-Podilsky.
14/7. A great night's sleep, but I'm up too early, and sit and work a bit, before I head out into the city. Here is not much action, and I head on to the fortress by foot. It is on the other side of a deep gorge, and the views are great. They would have been even better with sun!
I especially notes one feature here, I haven't seen anywhere else in the world: The steep wooden stairs. Every step is either left or right footed. It make it way more easy to walk a steep set of stairs like these. On the way back to town, I find a statue which look like a caricature of me.
The Kamyanets-Podilsky Fortress is interesting, as it is partly renovated, and many of the buildings originate from different times. Further more, here will be some activities during the day for the kids, and serving of food, cooked in old ways. I walk most of the fortress, and head back to town. It is not big, but when they finish renovating it, it will surely be great.
I walk some of the old streets, and realises; it will take some time before the entire renovation of this city is done. My host tells me, it is done by each landowner. The municipal and central government have nothing to do with it. A pity, that would have helped, I think.
Here are some ruins, some old neglected houses, but also some which are in a pristine condition. I finish with a tour around one of the souvenir stand squares, but still fail to find anything interesting. Well, they have a lot of figures in clay, and some are kind of cute - but too big. The most interesting I have found so far is a petrified snail, in the gravel on the street.
I have a chat with my landlord, then I set the GPS for Kolomyya. It is through more farmland with endless barley fields and only a few villages. Here are new wooden and timber churches, huge rivers, free ranging cows and horse wagons.
The roads are in general real bad, and when one finally is well sealed, cows are running around on it. When I reach the little town of Borshchiv, there is a Saturday market outside town. Here are everything from day-old ducklings to ancient Ursus tractors.
Despite the lack of sun and the shitty roads, I do enjoy the drive. I finally make it to Kolomyya, and start with their large market. Then I see the town, which should be "Picture pretty". Well, I am without any doubt spoiled, and I fail to adore it. Here are some nice old houses, but that is all. Well, a improvised Saturday market in the pedestrian street helps. I find lunch, and head on.
This stint should be a great drive, but to me, it look just like the others, and the roads are just as bad. I pass a lot of churches, but not that many houses in general. Then I reach Kosiv, and I fail to find any interesting features at all. It should have a handicraft market, but it might be closed - although I fail to find where is was.
I figure I can make it to Yaremche, and now, the landscape changes a bit. The hills get higher and smaller. Yaremche is famous for all its souvenirs, and it sure have a lot of stands. And her are a lot of people as well. But why! I spend two hours, failing to find out what the attraction is. None seems to speak English, and finding vegetarian supper causes a bit of a problem.
Then I find a rather posh pizzeria, and they do have a vegetarian. It is with beans, carrots, broccoli and sweet corn form a frozen bag! I have never had one like that before - and don't need it again. I'm back at eight, way too late! It is way pass one, before I finish, and I decide to sleep late. Kamyanets-Podilsky Fortress and town, Kolomyya, Borshchiv, Kolomyya, Kosiv and Yaremche
15/7. Despite I have a expensive private room, I get woken by someone else's alarm clock at five - and they don't, turn it off for half a hour. Then they start noising around. The shower is a joke: A geyser, that is so pressure-related and a water pump with no tank: Within half a minute, it goes from icy to boiling and back. I sure prefer cheap dorms....
It is drizzling and a murky day in general. The first part is still through tall hills, but then it flattens out again. It could be Denmark for that matter. Well the houses in the villages does not really look alike, although not that fare from, and the everpresent yellow gas-lines neither. I'm pulled over by the police, and he start laughing when I speak English (covering he don't get a word at all). Have I been drinking? No. And I can go.
The first planned stop is Ivano-Frankivsk, a city which should be "Pleasant". It sure helps, when I get to the old part of town. Here are some real nice old buildings around several large squares. Here are rather Sunday closed, but a few second-hand markets dodges the drizzle.
Here are several newer buildings mixed into the old ones, and I have seen worse. I walk the central part, but after half a hour, I kind of seen it. A sunny day would surely be different. On the way out of town, I pass a huge wooden church with golden onion towers. If it have been dry, I would have stopped...
More nice farmland, quite like Denmark. Even the
buildings and small towns are not that fare. Jutland perhaps? The area
flattens out into a huge plain, partly moor. The few villages are generally
build in red bricks. The clouds are black in some areas, and I guess it is
just one of these days.
I reach the big city of Lviv, and the modern part does not look interesting at all. Then I reach the huge old town, and that does help a lot. Polshcha Rynok square is the centre piece, and I work my way towards it. I park on the edge of old town, and pass some of the hideous newer buildings.
Here are so many old glorious buildings, and it have been a huge and rich town once. It is still doing quite well, not badly helped by tourists. Here are so many bars and restaurants, and despite the lousy weather, here are a lot of guests. Some even talk foreign languishes and join guided tours.
Here are a lot of souvenir shops as well, but most are crap. Some have some lovely clay figures, others bunches of glass figures in all sizes. I have to buy a little dog. I can imagine it is a great looking town to stroll on a sunny day. Unfortunately, it isn't. I have my fleece jacket on, and the umbrella ready. I have paid for three and a half hour parking, but after close to two, the rain picks up, and I leave the rest for another day.
I hope the 150 kilometres to next sight will shake off the rain. At first, it intensifies, and I don't really appreciate the landscape. The road is newly sealed, and a treat. I pass a huge coal powered electrical plant, sending black smoke up into the air. Where cows and horses look real miserable, the numerous geese seems to thrive with the rain.
In heavy rain, I reach the old town of Zhovkva. It
is not big, but I feel fine, driving around it in the rain. No chance I'll
get out of the car for that. It does have the big old buildings, but here
are way too open and no life at all.
The rain is getting real heavy, and the road is real bad. Half pass three, it is like driving in a pool. It is impossible to tell, if it is a shallow puddle or a well on the road, and here are a lot of both. I spot a motel in a little town; Smerekiv, and check the price; around €10. Only afterwards, I find out; they have a wedding this evening.
I get a real cosy wooden room with a view to the garden, and start working right away, hoping to get an early night. At five, I find another restaurant, a bit down the road. Unfortunately, they have a wedding as well, and that include the little town's restaurants.
I find a cafe/bar, and the nice lady find some vegetables in the back (her home), and serve it for me along with a mug of tea and some nice peaches cookies.
At 20;30, I think I can't hear the wedding. At 20;35 I
can indeed hear it! Then there is a fireworks at eleven, and that apparently
marks the end.
16/7. It is yet another rainy day, and I don't see much interesting on the first 150 kilometres to the Pochayiv Monastery. I pass the Olesko Castle, but the rain defiantly make it less attractive. Here start to be some birch forest and wetlands. The willows have a lot of mistletoe, actually most leaves are from them.
As I get closer to the monastery, the farmers huts get smaller and smaller and more and more badly maintained. The road have been good, but now, it is a nightmare in the rain. People are walking a single cow long the road, and here are a lot of cows and some goats. I figure the monastery for once will be humble as well.
Then the Pochayiv Monastery emerges from the mist,
and it is huge! It is like a city, sitting on a hill with all its golden
roofs. The town around it have a lot of hotels, and I figure this must be a
The huge buildings are pristine, and even in the gloomy day, the golden roofs shines. Here are several churches and alike, and they are excusive decorated. It is not the Vatican, but close. I walk the area, see some of the churches inside, and can't resist the shop. Humility is the last thing you can find here. Extremely expensive jewellery crucifixes and along other shiny stuff. I can't really figure out, if this temple is for the Female God, or Mammon?
When I have see most, I find the car. and head towards Kremenets. It is still drizzling, and the flat landscape could be Denmark or southern Sweden. Even the road have some long, smooth stretches. A hundred kilometres of eventless road, and I reach Kremenets.
It seems like it once, many years ago, was a fairly rich town. Now, it can at best be described as neglected. Here are a castle and several churches, but most trade is done at the improvised market at the bus station. I pass right through, and find a copplestone road, heading up the little mountain.
Here lies the last remains of an ancient fortress, and in a clear day, they views would be great. I walk the fortress and some of the top, but all plants are familiar, and animals tug them self away. The rain pick up, and I set the GPS for Poland; close to 500 kilometres away.
I do a breath stop in the town, but here are not anything worth the drizzle. I figure, I drive right into Poland before I find a hotel, and spend the last 444 hryvnia on Diesel. And it couldn't have a drop more. The sun and rain swaps all the time, and the landscape it real flat and not heavily farmed at all. There are fare in-between the villages, and only a single town. Pochayiv Monastery, Kremenets Ruins and town, Western Ukraine.
Ukraine is a pretty country, however, it does not have
that much to show yet. I have only seen the western part, but I doubt much
more will be found in the east. I have enjoyed the stay, but I don't plan to
return. I have driven 1034 (my estimate from home was 1020) kilometres,
taken 810 photos and spend €92. Diesel the most with €40, then hotels with