The time has finally come to write about one of the most eventful parts of our trip so far – crossing Stavropol Krai (Ставропо́льский край), Kabardino-Balkaria (Кабарди́но-Балка́рская Респу́блика) and North Ossetia-Alania (Республика Северная Осетия — Алания), but mainly to write about the people we met there. The latter federal subjects of Russia would rarely be found on a tourists’ wish list nor would they be the first choice for travellers’ routes if other options were at hand. With all the literature and information given to us and advises that the regions might be dangerous and a little wild, we were still pretty excited to be closing in on the North Caucasus.
I woke up on 14th November, not having a clue where I was. This was definitely not a tent, since then I would be squeezed between Dainis and Ivars. I had so much free space around me, so we were definitely not Couchsurfing or staying in anyone’s house, there was ceiling… which meant we had not slept under the starry sky. So where..? After these and some more thoughts had run through my head in a split second, it all came back to me, we were in Yalta, Crimea (Ялта, Крим) and had just spent the night in a furniture shop. The uncommon spot probably did it, since it does not happen very often to me and thus it has definitely stayed in my memory.
“Goodbye, the Land of Wine!” we shouted out loud, it was 16th October – the day we left Chisinau and Moldova. Of course, if you have read any of our previous posts involving leaving cities, you’ll already know that it was definitely not an early morning activity.
By the time we got organised and said farewells to our new friends, it was already early afternoon and we decided to say goodbye to the city itself by having a meal in a simple Moldovan diner “Strelka” using our last Moldovan money – leu (MDL). Suppose, we got a little over-excited with our order, choosing 3 courses each – we definitely got a bit over our heads, particularly because we intended to cycle straight after the meal. This resulted in not having enough of the right cash in our pockets (we were around 1€ short). We contemplated of going to a currency exchange place to get some more money, but then again, getting more leu was something we would not need anymore, since we planned to cycle to the border of Transnistria that afternoon and back in Ukraine after that. Thankfully, the women at the counter accepted some of our Ukrainian hryvnias (UAH) instead, this proved to us once more – there are good, understanding and kind people everywhere. Continue reading
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.
So we entered Ukraine in the evening of September 26, it is now, however, a month later. There is no reason or explanation that could justify our absolute laziness in keeping up to date. Good thing is, I’ve been keeping up with the adventures in a travel journal I was given by my mentor and friend back in Glasgow – Darren. It is quite difficult to write though, there always seems to be something better to do than to type the events that have passed. Right now, we’ve been in Odessa for five days already, the weather is horrible, rainy, cold and we are not moving anywhere (we can enter Russia only on the 1st of November as stated in our visas) so one could say – the conditions are perfect.