2018-11-21 Day 71 Wed

A nice hot shower and then I did a bit of hand washing. I need to do small lots as there will be no hanging out to dry!!
We headed north to the capital Chisinau. As we drove north there was more snow on the ground and then in the air.

We visited Milestii Mici which has the largest cellar in the world; 200km of them!  At the cellar we booked in for a tour tomorrow at 3pm. The attendent offered to hire a taxi for us to do the tour in, as although EC is within the height 2.7m she is too long…. Oh well.

John directed us to a small shopping center that had a restaurant and we had a great meal of soup then a Moldova special with pork then a coffee with cheese crepes….Yum One of the better bought meals. We shared each plate.
The waitress had some English but understood better than her ability to speak. Next door in the supermarket we bought some eggs and 2 rather thick pork chops for dinner. The lunch cost A$10 and the pork chops A$3.50.

One of the towns we drove through had all their wells  as tea pots. They looked great!

Next north to a monastery and a camp. As there was so much snow on the ground we did not venture on any of the tracks and ended up below the monastery just between the dirt white road and the creek, on the tracks of a horse and cart.

Forecast for -5℃ tonight and a little snow. As John was taking his camp photo several cars stopped and chatted to him. People seem friendly.


2018-11-20 Day 70 Tue

Mum and Ben's birthday.

Today we’ll cross into Moldova. We arrived at the border of Ukraine and waited in line. They were allowing about 5 cars at a time through the gates, After 2 lots we got through and parked where indicated. The customs guy jumped up onto the step and peered past me into the back asking if we were a commercial vehicle? He came in and looked in a few draws asking for medicine I showed him the Neurophen which was fine. He began asking for Australian coins and I know I have some but could not find them but found a kiwi 50c. He was very happy. Passports took a little while to process with all the passport control personal having their input. We got our stamp and were away.
Next to the Moldova border. Here they were also friendly. The lady had a few problems with the vehicle details but the customs guy had reasonable English and helped her. We paid our road tax of €5 and the customs guy looked in from the doorway into the house and walked off. We were all done by 13:30 - 1 hour to exit Ukraine and half to enter Moldovia.

Headed North on the red road, It was pretty bad in places but soon came mostly good. At one stage the “speedway” looked dry enough … no it wasn’t, so in 4x4 we climbed the bank back onto the road.


Stopped in Taracia and bought a SIM, so we had internet. The young lady who served us had some English. We finally found the post office in a derelict building and managed to post our vote for the Victorian election. Who knows when they’ll arrive. 

 All the rubbish bins had US-aid on them.

Had a little trouble finding a camp as all the little tracks were dirt and very slippery. Finally we found one and hid behind an abandoned building. Still could be seen from some of the red road but we were 1 km away.
Was forecast to snow but there was none.


 Camp site

2018-11-19 Day 69 Mon

After my first cup of tea I looked out the window at the waves lapping at our back tyre so I asked john to move up the beach a bit. By the time we had showered and ready to leave the wind was pushing the waves over the top of the beach and down into the swale. The waves were again passing under us. I am glad we moved earlier.

Our luck with the roads ran out today. We drove into Vylkove first off to get as far south as we could and look at the Danube Delta, we were on the Chilia branch.
The houses backing onto the river had little swings and their boats tied to jetty's. We noticed a supermarket and went in for a few vegies and milk. We were very surprised at their deli selection. They had an amazing array of dried fish, some big fresh fish one about 12kg and the others about 8kg.
A great range of cheese - we bought some hard goat cheese and a french Parmesan. We also walked out with a semi dried fish so will have to work out what to do with it, hopefully it has been smoked.
We stopped for lunch about 1:30 after 5½ hrs and 70km of very slow roads. Because of the rain we could not use the speedways and even off the side of the road was very slippery so a lot of time it was very slow going. The holes were full of water so had no idea if they were deep or not so had to treat them all as sharp edged holes.

When we got to Izmail the roads were great. Got our printing done but the lady who printed was obviously having troubles and printed everything a few times….
Any way, got that done and headed out. 

John only slowed (not stopped completely) at a stop sign by a rail crossing. There were gates beside the road across the train tracks. A police car pulled us up and wanted to fine us for not stopping. John, agreed with the cop but was pressing to walk back to the crossing to explain and take a photo of the crossing.  Another police car charged past with lights and siren. Our police car let us off in a a hurry explaining that they had to go (and join the fun I guess)

30kms of great road in 25 mins to krynychne where we camped off to the side of a slippery track above the river.

Snow forcast but none fell.


2018-11-18 Day 68 Sun

We left our camp around 9:30.

Found a track on the map which went along the coast of the Black Sea so we followed it. 

Someone had had a feed!

 At one stage we got to drive down on the beach and have a little walk. There was a pile of foam trapped by the wind against some rocks . When the wind blew the foam wobbled. Looked very funny.

The track got to narrow with trees so turned back and took another that was not listed on the map. A lovely place with any number of places to camp for the night. In the trees there was a lot of evidence that a lot of campers use it every summer.

 I was surprised that the roses in gardens were still looking wonderful after the freezing weather and snow.


Some of the roads were in bad repair but there were speedways of very good track off to the side so it wasn’t too bad.
We made it to Lebedivkaon on the coast then had to go inland around the lagoons.

Camped just out of Prymorske on the Black Sea beach for the night. Only a little above high tide mark. Lots of jelly fish here on the beach. Rained during the night and blew a bit. 


2018-11-17 Day 67 Sat

0.0℃ We slept in this morning. Still cold but at least our water pipes are not frozen. 

Somehow today just disappeared. We went to a supermarket to find it was a big “Bunnings” so bought some bolts. Went to another mark on the map that indicated a supermarket and it was, but again had a bit of everything and food. Bought all we needed then found a fortress ( Bilhorod-Dnister) to have lunch next to. A guy was holding a transistor radio out his window to get a better signal. By now it was after 3:30 so with an hour to find a camp we did not have time for a visit.

Tried to drive out to the outer sandbar at Serhiivka but it had a barrier across it and the guard said we needed to get administion approval. Drove thru some small villages on very rough roads and camped on the outside of the outside wall of a camp-ground overlooking a lagoon next to the Black Sea. Still cold, but no snow falling - some still on the ground. A late camp…. Nearly dark.


2018-11-16 Day 66 Fri

 0.5℃ Not so cold this morning. 

We didn't realize that wombats lived here too!

John installed the new wipers then we headed south for the catacombs in Odessa, My drive started fast-ish then dropped down to a crawl.  37km in the first hour then John drove, after his first 5 minutes of his shift the road became good. It is wonderful having new wipers and with antifreeze in the windscreen washer we have clear vision.

We got to the catacombs north of Odessa at about 1:30. Had a bite to eat while we pondered where they were and how to find anybody. Finally found a guide and off we went. There are over 2500km of catacombs under the city of Odessa. They were formed with the cutting out of Limestone for building materials. These that we entered were used by partisans during the second world war. A group of 50 men 20 females and 5 kids used these as their base while gathering info and I guess, hindering the German enemy where possible. They had a water well and the locals would deliver food and information down the well. The Germans tried to gas them and flood them from the Black Sea waters but as the catacombs are so huge neither worked.

Continuing our trek south and back into snow, we found a camp on the edge of the Black sea. It was bleak, windy and cold. Not at all inviting.


2018-11-15 Day 65 Thu

-1.5℃ It had not snowed during the night but our water was still not running so john melted some snow. I did not like the tea and when wiping out the pan with a tissue it came out covered in black!!! 
We arrived at the missile silo museum in time for a tour at 11:30. We grabbed a quick sandwich and joined the Danish guy on the tour. AU$2 for the tour of the museum and another $10.00 to go below ground into the command center. It has been left as it was. The guys that worked here are now maintaining it and keeping the museum open. The “Button” has been disabled and the silo’s emptied and filled with concrete. To sit in the command room was very sobering. Two men on shift sitting in a chairs with seat belt, with no authority to move from the chair, occasionally entering codes as they flash on their screen. They may not even have known if It was the “real“ one. The command center was a 35m long tube suspended in a silo with a silo lid that did not open. Very interesting and well worth a visit. Above ground they have the missile carrier vehicles which weighs over 200 ton with an empty missile on board. And numerous missiles, tanks etc. 

After this sobering tour, we headed south. At Voznesensk, we spied an auto shop and stopped bought 3 bags of grease and two new windscreen wipers and some electrical connectors. Not long after we turned off and went under the bridge and along the river to find a lovely little camp, actually there are a lot of camp spots here. There were a lot of freight trains during the time we were there. I made a tapioca pudding and a port stew with couscous for dinner.

2018-11-14 Day 64 Wed

-4.5 at 02:30 so we filled some bowls with water. In case the lines freeze. 
We finally left camp about 11:30 aiming to be at the nuclear silo for the night. But was not to be. Shortly after leaving, the snow started. It snowed on and off all day. The roads were slow so only made 230km. Supposed to snow another 2-3 cm tonight and only get down to 0. The warmest it was today was 0.8℃ and the coldest we saw while driving was -1.8℃. 

As we were passing thru Bohuslav the snow was falling more heavily then low and behold there was a statue of three elephants standing on the back of a turtle - the world of Discworld by Terry Pratchett. No idea  it is here not on google or our map.
When we stopped for lunch we had no water. Either the line is frozen or because I didn’t leave the pump on with all the bumps there is air in all the lines from the hot water leak.
We are camped near a front gate by a frozen lake, covered in snow.
A beautiful drive in the snow. 

Shortly after snacks for dinner and as we were pouring hot chocolate to have with our Baklava there was a knock on the vehicle. I poked my head out saying hello and a couple of police emerged from the back of the vehicle. The short of it they rang a number to someone who spoke English. Basically it was unsafe where we were lots of robbers, and they’d take us back up north 20km to a gas station for the night. I argued we were headed south. Anyway they waited for us to pack up and we followed them, we thought to a gas station, One we went past was closed so we ended up on the main road on the out skirts of the town, being told that the town we were headed for (Pervomaisk) was that way. They left and we trundled off about 10km and found a white road that ran alongside a pine forest, then a little track into the forest which we ventured down slipping and sliding in the snow. A lovely little secluded spot for the night.

2018-11-13 Day 63 Tue

 -2.5℃ & legs a little stiff. Put our sheets onto wash and folded our now dry washing from yesterday. Did some blogging and looking for a place to buy shock absorbers. We collected our wet washing and hung it inside EC. 

John needed to scrape ice from the inside of the windscreen, maybe cause we had the privacy screen up. 

We drove south and looked in at a couple of places for shocks but they were unhelpful and the traffic was manic so gave up and headed SE.

We were following the Dnipro river south. The section near Kozyn was like a mini Miami. Lots of big houses with water frontage. Some houses were quiet amazing certainly the rich live here.
On dusk we found a nice little beach at Rzhyschiv. A guy on a scooter visited to say he liked the truck and a lady came by asking for food and bread in English. We gave her an apple and half a loaf of bread. I went to bed early and did some Russian on Duolingo. Struggling with it. 
I filled the hottie from the shower, nice to start the night with warm feet.

93km Camp site

2018-11-12 Day 62 Mon

2℃, a bit warmer when we woke at 6am but got colder as the sun rose then settled on about a high of 6℃ for the morning. When Pavel arrived at 9:30 we dropped a bag of washing off at the hotel, 5kg for €2, very reasonable, and headed for the bus.
It was cold outside. The warm bus ride to the subway then about 8 stops to Kiev university station. Fast,warm trains arriving every minute. They move 1.5 million passengers a day. St volodymyr’s which was a “new “ cathedral built early 1800’s But the internal paintings took 15 years and were of the Old style. Cathedral is still active.

St Sophia’s Cathedral, within a walled monetary and being renovated again and is now a museum. Some of the pictures were called shimmering paintings which are mosaics, and still hold the rich color as they did when made, 1000 years ago in 1018. 
Some modern art was displayed and a replica of Mary’s eyes made by Easter Eggs, real eggs painted by hand. Some 1000.

St Michaels , St Andrew’s and lots of monuments. We lunched at a large cafeteria. Borsch (soup), chicken Kiev (had to) and a wonderful soft cheese dessert. Ate far to much…
These flowers were amazing and she sells them all in 3 days!!! John bought me one and it's stem was 90cm long,  the longest I've seen.

Pavel was great and kept taking us indoors to warm up. As a tour guide he was good and respected our space, I would recommend Pavel on to anyone visiting Kiev. We had gotten quite cold in the morning wind but the afternoon was not quite so cold till the sun set.

We visited the scene of the Euromaiden demonstration in December 2013 thru January 14 where 111 demonstrators were shot and killed, but the president did resign and escape back to Russian with many suitcases if cash. So I guess it was successful.
We saw the Peoples friendship arch on dusk then went and saw the lady which is taller than the statue of liberty. It is possible to go inside but we were there after dark so it was closed. Caught the bus to the subway it was slow going and then the subway back then another bus. It took a fair while to get back to camp. By the time Pavel had shown us some places on the map to visit on our way to Odessa and I’d checked in on the laundry it was 9:30. A good long day; we went to bed tired and foot sore.

2018-11-11 Day 61 Sun

Another -2.5℃ John noticed this floating island on the lake it came into shore for a while then drifted on it's way.

An early morning walker came past and looked at the maps. John went out to talk to her but she was not very comfortable. Just before leaving a fisherman arrived, as we left, the lady walker turned up and spoke to the fisherman who hailed us, we stopped and John had a good conversation with him, but the walker left. 
As I had told Pavel we’d be there in the afternoon we mosied on north east to find the large river north of Kiev. John did a great job of picking smooth roads. There was only one very short one that was very rough. The large river is the Dnieper river, Kiev Reservoir, and has upriver of it the cooling pond for Chernobyl. We got to within 50km as the crow fly’s from Chernobyl. 
Still very foggy and windy. Our little Piklet stop on a dam wall neer Kozarovychi was cold foggy and windy. Although a couple of little kids came down to the beach for a play.
We left at 3pm to arrive at the camp ground at 4pm. An accident caused a bit of a traffic jam, so we went round, not sure if it was quicker but at least we were moving. Pavel had to help me via WhatsApp to actually find the place. Just the carpark at a hotel.
Pavel showed us the ins and outs, were the showers/toilets were the black water dump (a concrete manhole in the sewage line out the back). He left us for a cold night with the knowledge that he’d show us around Kiev tomorrow. Starting at 10am.

151km Camp site

2018-11-10 Day 60 Sat

 Another -2.5 morning buts seems to warm up quickly; by 7:30 it is already 3.3. In Argentina it was coldest at about 7:30am.

I wrote between 8 and 9am again…..

Driving north then east the roads were OK. Not great in places but overall not bad, averaging about 50km/h. For lunch we perched above a lake outside somebodies house at the end of a little white road. It was decided that we’d head for some pine forest NW of Kiev as when we leave Kiev we'll be heading SE so don’t want to cross tracks.
I drove for 2 hours on red roads at about 80km/h. A comfortable speed. The roads were very good. Sometimes with two lanes. We drove through one of the biggish towns instead of taking the by-pass, but it was very uninteresting. 

We did pass a lot of very colorful bus shelters during the day.

The yellow and then the white road to the pine forest was pretty terrible. The yellow being an old concrete road resealed with tar, now with potholes. The first side of the lake at Bilka overlooked houses at close range so we drove to the other side and found a track in through the forest to the lake foreshore. A delightful little spot. very pretty as the fog rolled in across the water making the lights appear bigger than they were.

309km Camp site

2018-11-09 Day 59 Fri

A cold morning. -2.5 when we woke at 6am. A good frost crisping the grass. Winter is coming! John turned the ignition on and no glow plug light. Still not convinced that that is not our cold cold start problem.
I actually got some story written this morning…… Am putting the hour between 8 & 9 aside for story writing. Not sure how it’ll go long term but we’ll see.
Left camp about 11 with the changed plan of heading to Kiev. I had been in communication with a tour agent/campground guy when looking for help for a visa. We thought we could go to his camp ground for a couple of nights and bus into Kiev for a look around. Something different.
However we took yellow roads, some were faster than others. Had lunch just off the road in the corner of a paddock and although the sun was warm the air was cold. John sharpened the knives.

We have noticed piles of turnip looking “roots” in paddocks. We saw some machinery working in a paddock so stopped on the side of the road and walked into the paddock. They were loading the roots into trucks with a big machine. One guy came across to us while the others jeered him on. He had no English but found out it is sugar beets for sugar. The beets are harvested into tractor and trailers and heaped at the end of the paddock then some time later this machine with an auger picks up the beets onto a conveyor belt which dumps them in truck and trailer. John took some photos and when the truck was full, he pulled away then stopped beside John, wound down his window, and wanted his photo taken. Victor then got out and gave us his number so we could send him the photos…… The initial guy rang a mate who spoke English so john was able to understand what the process was.
We stopped at Teofipol as we saw a fruit & vegie stall. Bought a little from both stalls. There was live music behind the stalls outside a restaurant with woman dancing. Back at the truck we were inundated with interested men. One guy with 4 words of English told us that his mate was a good father and had twins which had just been given their names in church and there was a party (music and dancing). We met the father who bought us a bag of cakes with the help of his older son. John gave the boy a kangaroo but he was to shy to take it. We were dragged over for a drink. I couldn’t drink I was driving so john got the glass of vodka. I had bad vibes from the ladies. We met the “mother” but she was not very happy, we took our leave. I am not sure whether our being there caused problems or what.

Back at the vehicle more guys to look at it. Finally we departed it was now after 4pm and time for a camp. Certainly were not going to make our 200km today.

We passed a row of sugar beet truck and trailers waiting to drop their cargo off at the processing plant.
Had trouble finding a camp but after a few more miles finally tucked in off a white road near a dam and houses. People don’t seem to mind where we stop.

169km Camp site