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Published: September 23rd 2011
From Moscow i managed to hitch a fast car all the way to Kiev in only 12 hours. i payed a 20p English coin to get through customs quicker - my smallest bribe ever! i felt slightly uncomfortable getting into Kiev when the driver started negotiating with street hookers whilst i was still in the car. i quickly left.
Although almost completely destroyed in WWII, Kiev is an incredible city, with plenty of magnificent churches and a huge park at its center. Its strange how all the girls look like beautiful models and all the guys seem to be punching above their weight.
As it worked out cheaper to get the train than to hitchhike (as the night train was cheaper than a night at a hostel), i got the train to Ivano Frankivsk then onto Kolomia in the Carpathian mountains. i did some cycling in the surrounding villages - getting strange looks by all the locals and chased by all the dogs. i also did a few hikes in the mountains. i went to a really weird museum shaped like an egg which had hundreds of painted eggs behind glass cabinets, some of which were 100 years old.
Hitchhiking into Romania was abit crazy - waiting hours in the middle of some farmland somewhere when it was getting really dark. luckally someone picked me up before i had to sleep rough in a field. given how cheap local transport is here, i have been taking public transport for the last couple of weeks.
I then went to Sucheva in Romania where i traveled with Delphan from Belgium for a few days and explored some cool monasteries in remote mountain villages.
Then i went to Chisinau in Moldova to meet David from Quebec (who i hitchhiked with last year). although the city was pretty bland, the hostel where David was working was really cool and i ended up staying almost a week. there i visited an awesome underground wine cellar 80km long and saw Putin's massive private wine collection and the most expensive bottle of wine in the world (although i question the 'guides' credibility as she was also making ridiculous comments such as "red wine is nice when it is raining"). i tried 8 bottles of different wine from Moldova, but they weren't brilliant (the wine in Macedonia was much better).
A small group
of us then went to the strange "country" of Transnistria. its a country with its own government, border and money yet is not recognized by a single country. not only does the Home Office advice caution about visiting, we heard so many bad stories about the place from other travelers - from corruption to extreme harassment and interrogation by the police...this all made us curious and made us want to go even more.
I was almost disappointed getting through the border with no problems, not even a bribe. In fact the whole place seemed really laid back and safe. we hardly got harassed by the police at all. Transnistria is a really cool place - it seemed like we stepped back into the Soviet era.
we went out Russian style - drank at the bus stops and local kiosks with the locals until 5am. our "hostel" was a proper squat - a soviet apartment with no running water and mattresses on the floor - as Alister put it "a Bosnian refugee camp".
Note 1: sorry to everyone i met and traveled with and didn't mention - its hard trying to cram 3 weeks into a few paragraphs!
tagged along with some Aussies and got a free tour around the Carpathian mountains
Note 2: Unfortunately i lost my compact camera on a bus somewhere, so i lost alot of photos
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