Freedom of the open road
11.07.2009 - 12.07.2009
A quick flight, and I'm in Kiev, meeting Chuck at the airport. Everything is in place.
Central Kiev, we arrange for an overnight train to Odesa for that night, which gives us a few hours to kill looking around the oldest Slavic city there is. Kiev is nice, more european than Moscow in my eyes, tree lined boulevards, cafes, quaint old buildings that definitely look their age. Of course, this quaintness is surrounded by giant generic Soviet blocks and more modern buildings with shine plastic windows, but who would have it any other way? Although it seems Kiev has managed to throw off it's bad memories of the past.
As it was a weekend, the main thoroughfare is all pedestrianised, there was a mini anti-drugs techno rave, complete with 3 ravers, and all manner of vaguely entertaining street performance, like a man trying to cycle with no steering.
The churches in Kiev are definitely worth seeing, golden domes glittering under the blazing sunshine, it was very photogenic. We even managed to catch an orthodox service, the trance inducing harmonic chanting and incence was very awe-inspiring. A quick capoeira session on the square and meal later, and we got onto our overnight train heading south to the seaside, sharing a cabin with 2 Ukrainian Babushkas going on holiday.
Odesa is a nice town, very atmospheric old world buildings with the paint peeling off. I kept picturing in my head a story about my great-grandma, who lived here as a little girl. Apparently when she would go to the theatre with her father, he would always carry a pistol with him, just in case. Odesa has a huge network of tunnels underneath it, which have traditionally been the hiding place for all manner of brigands and pirates, giving a reputation of the black sea pirate capital during the Tsarist era.
Now it is a tourist haven, packed full or tour groups taking in the sights and the sun (although there has been a huge thunderstorm and rain all day today). We spent most of the day in a cafe, and fortunately stumbled upon the office of the ferry company that would take us to Georgia. Everything has worked out incredibly well, perfectly to plan. The boat is delayed for a day, so we can get on tomorrow, we found the offices 10 minutes before they shut, bought the tickets and now we're ready to go.
We have raced through the Ukraine in search of places more wild, and tomorrow we get on a 40 hour boat to Poti, Georgia, finally leaving Europe. See you on the other side .