May 14 2008

Following the Moldovan border in Podillya

Published by at 9:47 pm under World Tour 2008

Countryside road
Countryside road

The last few days have felt like some sort of vicious training for Paris-Roubaix mixed with a mountain stage of the Tour de France.

All the roads look flat and smooth on my 1:500k map and I unknowingly entered a very hilly and unpaved part of Ukraine when I decided to follow the Dniester river along the border with Moldova. Dozens of smaller rivers flowing into the Dniester have carved deep valleys 150 metres down from the main plateau and the road is sprinkled with steep climbs. Eventually the bad tarmac ends and the rough track begins. My average speed drops to 10km/h and after barely 100km that day I am looking for a quiet spot to camp when someone hails me from his house. I end up in Sasha’s house for the night. I meet the whole familly and I feel like Salvatore in The Name of The Rose when I try to communicate: a bit of French, English, German and Russian, all mixed together. “Hitler Kaput” says Sasha… A good start!

Tania, Babushka, Sasha, Frog & Koshka
Tania, Babushka, Sasha, Frog & Koshka

I have a chance to taste homemade products that night: pig fat, goat cheese, fish, everything extremely salted except the vodka. Sasha’s wife, Tania, is interested in the wages difference between Ukraine and Western Europe as well as the price of my bike, my camera, a haircut, etc… I give them numbers which are half the actual price but that’s still 3 or 4 times more than in Ukraine. In the morning I start the day with green Borscht, a Ukrainian specialty from what I understand. We exchange addresses; Sasha was impressed by my map of Ukraine so I’ll try to post it to him when I’ll get into Russia.

I am now in Odessa Oblast, about 120km from the city itself. (Show on Google Maps) I had a great tailwind and sunshine today, apparently this region doesn’t see much rain and that’s a nice change from my first few days in the country. There are now a lot of large fields everywhere (the “breadbasket of the USSR”) and finding a quiet spot to camp isn’t as hard as in the North West. This still generates a lot of barking from the dogs in the surrounding villages though.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Following the Moldovan border in Podillya”

  1. Julian Kingscoteon 16 May 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Hi Arnaud, just checked out your website… bloody good! Sounds like you are having a great adventure! I will read all in the next day or two. I am preparing for my own arduous trip… going to climb up Mont Blanc with a good friend, and the guidance of a company called icicle mountaineering! Just for two weeks…. wish I could travel for a year like yourself!!!!

  2. John Mearson 16 May 2008 at 4:25 pm

    This is really interesting – keep up the postings! It sounds quite an adventure. Not sure if I like the sound of cigarette ash flavoured cakes though.

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