I’m not really sure how to start a post about Ukraine as I realise I may very well come across as another hip “blogster” who think he knows stuff when in fact I do not. But Ukraine is on everyone’s mind these days; definitely on mine. Particular as Vova, who is not only someone I have ridden with, but someone I would like to think of as a friend, is in the middle of it all.
So I will write a blog about the Ukraine that I got to experience. As scarred as it will be, I do hope that I one day will get the chance to return to have a beer with Vova.
The first Encounter
My first trip to Ukraine is 10 years ago now. I rode with Christian and Ryan to Ukraine, where we met with Vova. Ukraine was a part of a longer ride through Poland, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, and Slovenia. I got in contact with Vova on AdvRider.com. We met just across the border to Ukraine. Having not realised that we had changed timezone, Vova had waited an hour for us.
It was my first encounter with the Ukrainian border officials. A certain type of people that I will come to learn that require a fair amount of patience. Although I had handed him all the papers: passport, green insurance paper, and vehicle registration certificate, he kept asking for “moto passport”. I didn’t know what he wanted, I had given him all the documents he could ask for. Although he kept asking for “moto passport”, almost screaming at me, I still didn’t know what he wanted. He eventually got so annoyed dealing with me, that he let me go. It was almost a year later when it occurred to me that he had asked for the vehicle registration certificate, and him not knowing what the Swedish version looked like, didn’t realise he already had it in his hand.
This was 2012, and my first experience with Ukrainian backroads. I remember the villages we rode through, the roads paved with gravel and potholes and how people were going about with their lives. Some working in the fields, old-fashioned style, you know, with horse drawn ploughs and what not. And then all of a sudden just around the corner, a couple of very well dressed young ladies in their heels trying to avoid stepping into mud holes. It seemed quite bizarre to me.
Vova lead us south through the Carpathian Mountains, taking us a bit off road. With our heavy bikes and our level of skills, it wasn’t much we rode off road, though. I think it was a lot less than Vova had planned and hoped for.
We stayed one of the nights at a B&B that Vova had found. I believe he actually had his wife finding it while we were riding. It was a fantastic place. A big wooden house owned by a very hospitable couple. Situated next to a river with mountains surrounding in all directions.
The following day we rode to a town in the mountains called Rakhiv. I would eventually end up staying there on the next trips to Ukraine.
Just south of Rakhiv, we stopped and took a picture at what is claimed to be the geographical centre of the European continent.
So this, my first encounter with Ukraine, and actually my first ride out of the European Union (not including the bike rentals at tourist destinations). It was an experience that was out of the ordinary for me, with a language I couldn’t understand, signs I couldn’t read, a scenery that was very different to me, and as scary it felt it the time, also a place I knew I would return to.
And I did with Ryan in 2013. We got to ride all the way to Crimea, but that’ll be in the next story.
Riding motorcycles around Europe, filming, photographing, blogging and vlogging. My passion is riding and seeing new places, sharing the awesome sights and seeings with the world.