khar_muur: (khar_muur07)

TOP 3 best (omni) restaurants

1. Khevron, Odessa, Ukraine
2. Café Pushkin, Bakhchisaray, Ukraine
3. Rustic, Baia Sprie, Romania.

TOP 3 worst border crossings
1. Lithuania – Belarus
2. Belarus – Ukraine
2. Ukraine – Romania

TOP 3 most English spoken
1. Lviv, Ukraine
2. Vilnius, Lithuania
3. Sighișoara, Romania

TOP 3 accommodations
1. Casa Olarului, Baia Sprie, Romania
2. Hunting House, Kujbyshevo, Ukraine
3. Hotel Telecom Guest, Vilnius, Lithuania

TOP 3 most impressive cities

1. Minsk, Belarus
2. Odessa, Ukraine
3. Lviv, Ukraine

TOP mammals
1. Cow
2. Dog
3. Horse
4. Goat
5. Chicken
6. Cat
7. Sheep

Bonus mammal:
+ Donkey

TOP birds
1. Pigeon
2. White Stork
3. Sparrow
4. Western Jackdaw
5. Barn Swallow
6. Rook
7. Hawk

Bonus bird:
+ Peafowl

Achievements unlocked
⭐ Drove through the Carpathian Mountains during thunderstorm
⭐ Swam in the Black Sea
⭐ Sat in the chair of a missile base command centre
⭐ Saw the elusive city of Minsk
⭐ Bribed a police officer in Ukraine
⭐ Climbed the Potemkin Stairs in Odessa
⭐ Saw a white stork in a nest on the roof of a house
⭐ Saw a flock of bats flying over us on a dark forest road in Transylvania
⭐ Visited a crypt in Transylvania

Cases of blatant animal suffering witnessed
😡 a man striking a horse hard with the blunt side of a pitchfork (Bonțida, Romania)
😡 multiple cases of tying horses' legs together (to prevent them from wandering away, one assumes) in Ukraine, Moldova and Romania; saw two horses hopping down a road with legs tied in Romania
😡 dozens of strays everywhere, the majority of them ill and/or malnourished
😡 dog strongman contest; the animals were made to pull very heavy loads, and kept alone in small cages inside cars. Judging by the picture in the event poster, the dogs are pumped with steroids. (Gmina Wasilków, Poland)

Things the border guards inquire after or search for

- girls, tasers (Ukrainian; Belarus to Ukraine)
- petrol (Polish; Ukraine to Poland)
- gifts for guards/Finlandia vodka (Ukrainian; Ukraine to Romania)

Craziest drivers:
Kiev (Ukraine)

Best roads:
Belarus and Poland

Most white storks:
Romania

Most Hesburgers:
Lithuania

Easiest hotel to find:
Vila Chesa, Romania

Most difficult hotel to find:
Vilari Guest House, Ukraine

Most horse carts:
Romania

Most strays:
Ukraine

Coolest museum:
Strategic Missile Forces museum, Pervomais'k, Ukraine

Most insane memorial:
Dzyarzhynskaya Hara, Minsk, Belarus

Best cemetery:
The cemetery of the Church on the Hill, Sighișoara, Romania

Best overall service:
Ukraine

Best starry sky:
Crimea, Ukraine

Greatest bird density:
Belarus

Lushest lands:
Middle Ukraine

Most epic memorial:
Батьківщина-Мати (Mother Motherland), Kiev, Ukraine

Most impressive church:
The Church of the Saviour at Berestove, Kiev Pechersk Lavra, Kiev, Ukraine

Highest temp 30°C (Polish-Ukrainian border, day)
Lowest temp 13°C (Kujbyshevo, night)

khar_muur: (Default)

The hotel yard has been turned into a flea market. I'm momentarily tempted by a modern German military jacket, but decide against it.

Driving. Crossing borders like they don't even exist. A borderline surreal radio program in Lithuanian, with sound effects and solemn, powerful voice acting.

Driving. Partially skies, lush fields, wonderfully boring roads. Crossing another border, shooting at the deserted station, gleefully defying the obsolete rule against photography. A BMW caught speeding equals schadenfreude. Finns on motorcycles. "Peintbols Pif Paf". Passing the dam, back on the Via Baltia. "Moses taps (tm)"

Driving. We're in a bit of a hurry now, it seems, if we're going to catch that boat back to Finland.

Driving. Thinking about the journey and what a great experience it was. Came up with a short list of places to see next time in Romania. (1. the Danube Delta
2. Brasov & surroundings)

Sailing. Food is so strangely expensive. People are strange and speak with tongues I know. This floating-bar part of the trip is such a nosedive to reality. So is the drive from Helsinki to Turku. It's beyond odd to watch the sun get up again at 1:30 AM.

So much to do now. Clothes to unpack. Car to clean up. Over a thousand pictures to go through. Seitan to eat. Cats to comb.

Well, I'm back.

khar_muur: (Default)

I love the smell of mould in the morning, especially when it's right at the level of my nose.

We tour the old Lviv on foot, merely scraping the surface of all the things this city has to offer. Flea markets, alleyways, churches, marketplaces, parks, palaces, museums, cobblestone, pavement, statues, monuments, townhouses, manors, old and new, from 18th century to 21st. Nearly everything about the city speaks more West than East to me, but with a twist that's completely unique. It's too bad we're constantly in a bit of a rush.

Crossing borders to Poland takes quite a while, apparently because at one point they completely forget about us and we have to go knocking after our passports to get going.

Poland is mostly what I remembered, and bears a striking resemblance to most of Ukraine. Fields, towns, fields, trees, fields. I leaf through the Polish part of a phrasebook and find the pronunciation actually mostly doable. Mostly.

Today seems to be the official get-hitched-day, since both in Lviv and in Poland we spot couples (with entourage) and cars decorated with pink ribbons and/or balloons.

Driving in Poland is surprisingly uneventful. Roads are in mint condition, straight, and traffic is low. I'd be bored if I wasn't thankful. It comes to mind that actually, with these roads and what most houses and other buildings look like, Poland is starting to look a lot like Germany, probably due to EU standardisation. S.O. says how this seems to be the EU's agenda—to make everywhere like Germany. And that sounds kind of familiar... Well, my only wish is that they never pass a directive limiting the appearance of bus stops.

The only hotels available in Bialystok, the originally planned cite of accommodation, are four and five stars and therefore far too expensive, so we booked a cheap hotel at Gmina Wasilków some ten kilometres north of there. Arriving at Nad Zwelem proves easily the single most surprising experience of today; there's a dog strongman—strongdog?—contest going on right here on the on the grounds (this facility serves both as a shabby hotel and a camping area). Dogs bark and people shout and cheer and laugh drunkenly. It's not exactly a nightmare, but something very close to one. Our room is silly-shaped and very big, and the bed springs have definitely seen their better days. The dog contest seems to know no end, the barking continues, and it's nearly midnight. Posting this tomorrow at dawn when we leave for Tallinn, because the Wi-fi only reaches the common areas and I'm dead tired.

Road Trip!

Jun. 2nd, 2013 12:57 am
khar_muur: (khar_muur07)
At approximately 6:00 AM, it begins. The little journey we've been planning. See new countries. Speak new languages. Navigate new routes. Eat new foods. Capture new images.

We'll be leaving on a ferry at nine o'clock today, and returning somewhere around midnight on the 17th. First across the pond, then driving through the Baltics and to Belarus, then, circling the Black Sea, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania; and returning via Poland and again through Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. I'm just filling in an online form at matkustusilmoitus.fi so if we end up in a ditch somewhere, the Finnish foreign ministry will know which one to drench. I'm really excited, not very nervous, and slightly tired from all the organizing and tidying and shopping... mostly just excited.

Most hotels we've booked have free Wi-fi; if it's not a complete hoax, I'll be sure to send some signs of life when possible and/or convenient.

Yay!

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A Journey in the Dark

March 2016

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