First of all, we must apologize for the delay, the article which should have been published on 10th January 2015, is being published almost one month later. This has happenned due to some objective (we have had to take care of a lot of things) and subjective (laziness) circumstances. We are still in Tbilisi, Georgia and trying to raise some money so we can continue our journey. All three of us have found a job here and even though the salary is small, it is still better than nothing. We will cover all the happenings in Tbilisi only when the events leading up to our arrival here will be covered. One thing we can already say about our lives here – we cannot complain about boredom. So, here is the promised article about our journey from Odessa to Crimea.
Farewell to Odessa
November was approaching at the speed of wind (as we found out the wind was not blowing in the right direction) and that meant that we had to say farewell to Odessa to start moving in the direction of Crimea. Taking into account that Crimea is under Russian control, in order to enter we had to possess Russian visa. He had received Russian visa without any problems already in Latvia, so we only had to get to the Crimean border. As we had acquired a tourist visa for 30 days and it started on 1st November we wanted to get to the border on 31st October at the latest. We said good bye to our lovely couchsurfing host Alina and her family on 27th October and we were ready to get back on our bicycles.
From left – Dainis, Alina, Ivars and Laura. Alina, thank you very, very much!
Riga-Odessa – 2880km travelled. Distance from home – 1250km.
How Many Roads in Odessa
When telling stories about Odessa, it will always remain as the city where we encountered the Fireman – Pozharnik. He is indeed a fascinating character and it’s no great wonder that he, Pushkin’s Kitchen and the surrounding happenings are the first to cross our minds when recalling Odessa. Nevertheless, there are more things worth telling about our stay in Odessa, which was somewhat longer than those two bohemian days. Pozharnik is only one of the million inhabitants of Odessa – the third largest city in Ukraine. Continue reading →
Artem is the 7th host we are staying with through Couchsurfing network. Just an ordinary guy who’s living in the center of Odessa and probably working some 9-to-5 job. Of course, as all of the CSers he probably likes to travel. And we’re sure that he is completely aware of our arrival time. At least, those were our presumptions about him. If you don’t know enough information about someone, you create a character in your head before the first meeting, just to get a better image that this person is real, that’s how the human brain works, well, mine at least. And that’s fine as long as you don’t start developing other thoughts and conclusions based on those presumptions. Because in reality the world can turn out a lot more interesting than one can imagine and the people in it can be even more unique than we think when saying the conventional “every one of us is special” phrase. Continue reading →
While spending the last days in Kiev, the feeling that we have stayed in the city for too long, never really left me. It was time to move on. I think it is kind of tricky with cities, if you stay in one place for a long time you start to become lazy, you get used to the comfort which cities offer and as a result, you end up spending too much time and money. Of course we also did something useful in Kiev, if “filming” a short hyperlapse video can be regarded as something useful (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mc9RkejUOig). One way or the other, on 8th October we finally got back on the road.
Crimean red sparkling wine. We tasted it on the last evening in Kiev, but unfortunately it was not tasty.
In the morning we packed our panniers and, together with our host Roman, drove to the central train station. The plan was to get from Kiev to the Moldavian (Transnestrian) border (to the city Kotovsk) using Ukrainian train network and then to jump on our cycles and pedal to Chisinau. I can almost hear people asking me “How can you call yourself bicycle tourist, if you are travelling with trains all the time?” I can almost hear myself answering this imaginary question “Firstly, to travel by trains in Ukraine is even cheaper that to travel by bicycles. Secondly, these trains are almost like social clubs where you get to know a lot about people travelling with you. Thirdly, it is a lot faster to travel by train and as we have to be in Crimea on 1st November, train is our only option to see more.” Actually, this was neither the first, nor the last time, when I had similar discussions with myself.
This blog entry has been brewing in my mind for a while but is really difficult to form in actual words. How do you write about a place you find extraordinary? It was more than two months ago, when we had the opportunity to spend 10 days in Kiev Kyiv (Київ), but some of the memories still feel so fresh, as if they happened last week. It is, without doubt, an incredible city with many riches, but often somehow ends up hidden from the vacationers and travellers wish-list. (Or should I say – forgotten?)
Kyiv has, however, become the central topic of conversation in the past year, considering the active conflicts taking place in the country. The Ukraine (Україна), I find, has suffered greatly and has never really had enough recognition from the world for its simple, natural beauty, and while I can’t ignore the timing and circumstances of our trip, I find that it is a place for travellers to go to not only because of the recent revolution that took place in the Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Майдан Незалежності), but also because Kyiv is one of the biggest cities in Europe and has a lot to offer – from great, rich history and its own unique sense in the arts – to a flaming, hot spirit.