Day 29. Crossing the border ; meeting Ukraine.

1 Jun

When we went out of the hotel in Moldova, this is how it looked liked :

We therefore spent some time taking care of our bikes before leaving, then head up to the border. Exiting a country is rarely a problem, so we went quickly through the moldavian one and met some very nice officers, amused by our vehicles, and warning us that the ukrainian customs were not funny guys.

Official separation between Moldova and Ukraine

No Man’s Land

After few kilometers in a no man’s land, we reached the ukranian territory and went through the control, with a more detailed inspection of the passport. However the guys were nice too and even offered to fill our empty bottles of water ; which we didn’t refuse. Despite all the warnings we got about customs in those countries, all the people we met were really nice with us. We probably look pretty innocent on our bicycles.

First stop in Ukraine

We entered Ukraine through a very small road going through villages. The first ‘town’ we encountered was Bolgrad, but we decided not to stop there as it wasn’t raining anymore and it was already late. We had just a bit of food left, a bit of water from the custom guys, and no ukrainian money. We cycled long without seeing anything except fields, then a solo biker who stopped to talk to us. Again, the man was heading towards Mongolia…but in 20 days 🙂  You can check his blog here (in german)

Meeting Pit the Russian-German, with some sun in the background!

We stopped at the next town, around 30km from Bolgrad, to get money, food and water. Ukrainian reality hit us as we quickly understood that there were no bank there, and no way to pay with cards/euros/romanian/moldovian leis. The only bank around was in Bolgrad, where we came from, and we had no will to get back there. On our way, the next bank  would be in Tatarbunary, 60km ahead, too late to get there today. So we were moneyless for the first time of the trip, and thought we’d camp, eat some of the emergency noodles we have in our bags, and get some water from locals.

We cycled until Bannovka, another village -around 1000 people-, big enough to have a church and a monastery. We headed to the church and luckily met an orthodox monk. He seemed to be the only not drunk person in the village, we asked him if we could possibly sleep in the monastery or in the church. He then went to talk to a group a villagers having beers outside, stayed there for 15 minutes, then waved us and ask to come with our bikes. He kindly arranged us to stay with the owner of the local shop, so we were very thankful to both parties.

Monk arranging us a place to stay

We met the family : mother and father (Darina and Vassil), daughter and grandmother -in all the houses we’ve stayed in so far, there is always a grandmother, aka Baba!-. We were offered a warm shower, food, and homemade wine.

With Petru, Darina and Vassil

Bulgarian/Ukranian food

A friend, Petrus, is joining the party. All of them are Bulgarians, and very nice with us. We used our Russian conversation guide, what we know of Russian and Croatian, and Google Translate to communicate. It’s pretty funny. Wine helps all of us getting more fluent. They explained us that there is a lot of corruption in the ukrainian government, that life is pretty though over there, and that they struggle to earn 100$ a month. We then wanted to help them somehow and contribute to what they were generoulsy offering us…but they didnt accept the 20 euros we wanted to give them. We then decided to payback with the bottle of Tuica we had left from Tulcea in Romania. They liked it pretty much and we finished it together. We went to sleep in the early hours, as you can imagine.

Our mark in the house

Thank you, technology!

Best friends

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