The last time we wrote we took shelter in Poland on the way, since we met a quite intense storm. Unfortunately, almost the same happened the next day, despite we reached our destination: Vilnius. We left the hotel in Poland quite early in the morning, with the hope of reaching Vilnius by the afternoon (it was at least a 7h drive) and have some time to explore it. The road passed through Warsaw and headed North and it was in very good conditions despite the rain of the day before. The highway finished at some point and there was a one lane road until the border with Lithuania. We made a stop in Augustow, a small town in the North of Poland where we initially planned to stop the day before. This is a resort city and there are a few restaurants available. We had quite a good lunch at Dom Kresowy Przewiez (despite some bad review, which looked a bit unfair) for a very cheap price (something like 17 euro for 2 people).
After this we just went straight to Lithuania to the hotel in Vilnius we booked the day before. Once crossed the border, it took just few hours of very pleasuring drive through Lithuanian countryside to reach the Capital. Here we settled down in the hotel and prepared to go out. Just prepared, since a heavy rain with thunders and lightings popped up. We were 15 minutes of walking from the city center but we decided that the tour wasn’t worth the effort of walking under the rain so we did something awesome. We ordered 2 pizzas from a restaurant and we had it delivered to the hotel. The look of the receptionist while taking our two Sprite bottles and our pizzas at the entrance was priceless, but we were starving and the pizzas, despite being mediocre, made their dirty work.
The Lithuanian chapter ended like this, since we needed around 7-8 hours to reach Tallinn and we needed to turn the car at around 20 the day after, so in the morning we decided to just leave after breafkast. We basically watched just the hotel of Vilnius, but is very close to Estonia, so we will definitely go back there someday.
Returning the car after such a long drive together was quite painful. This Toyota Corolla accompained us for 13 countries and had become our shield and our comfort zone, from wild parks to busy cities. We didn’t have much choice, so we said goodbye to our beast, petted its doors, took a picture of our final Km counter (7187km done!) and the highway vignettes and turned the keys.
We found our apartment as we left it, and we had just the time to mess it even more, pack, make a laundry and sleep few more than 3h, since at 6 in the morning our flight to Kyiv was leaving.
Probably nobody has ever been so sleepy as us in Tallinn airport at 5 in the morning waiting for boarding, but somehow we managed not to miss our flight, and we reached Riga where few minutes we boarded on the rotor plane that brought us to Kyiv.
We arrived to Kyiv around 9.30 in the morning, and the first thing we did was to go to Sixt (again!) and rent a car. The guy at the desk was friendly and gave us a Skoda Octavia (with 90600 km – our Toyota had 2710 km 🙂 ) right after Daniele had his first real passport stamp (Liechtenstein one doesn’t count unfortunately).
Our first destination in Ukraine was Vinnytsia, where Ira’s brother and his family were waiting for us. The city is a bit more than 300km from Kyiv, but the roads in Ukraine are not all good, so Google routed us through Zhytomyr. The drive was through a sort of highway and the quality was decent, plus some part through some villages where you can meet animals on the road together with people using carriages with horses (no kidding) or people sitting on the side of the road selling berries or other necessary items like brooms or bread (on the highway). Some parts of Ukraine are very wild in this sense, and you can meet for Kilometers unmanaged fields where nature is still the only presence. This is not the case of Vinnytsia, as soon as we reached it the look is very similar to an east European city and the area where we were headed is in development and looks very nice. It was early afternoon when we arrived to destination and we met with Marina and Ira’s 18-months old nephew. We have been welcomed with Borsch and we spent the evening chatting and playing until we went to the biggest show of the city, the Roshen fountain show, the largest floating fountain in Europe. This fountain sits on the river Buh and is used to create a show with lights and its many jets, together with a projector which shows images directly on water. During the working days the show is the same, but in the weekend everyday the show is different, and when we went luckily was Saturday, so we spectated a special show, this time dedicated to the story of The Little Prince. The show lasted one hour, but it took us less than 2 minutes to understand why we found places to sit even if we arrived few minutes before the show (basically all the city was there, plus some nearby towns). That night the wind was quite intense, and as soon as the biggest jet of the fountain sprayed at its maximum height the water, the wind carried it toward us and our neighbours, and we soaked. We pretended for few minutes that we were ok with it, but after a while we moved a bit on the back, where we could only stand, but at least stay a bit more dry.
The next day was lake day. We went to a nearby (1h drive) lake, in Cherepashynci quarry. Here a cave has been flooded by an underground river and now the lake is untouched, despite the many many people camping, resting, sunbathing and biking near it. We had a nice time there and we swam also before heading back home.
Our next stop was Haisyn, Ira’s and her parents’ city. This town is something around 100km of not very good road from Vinnytsia, so after we said our goodbyes we reached it in around 1h30. We found Ira’s parents waiting for us together with an enormous amount of homemade food and a bottle of homemade vodka. We spent two days in their company, that probably have been enough to gain some Kilos, and we filled our luggage with all kind of food, from candies to (of course!) a bottle of vodka, from zucchini to dried apples. We can open a Ukrainian market in Tallinn with all the stuff we brought back, but it was worth.
After these two days spent in a small Ukranian town, experiencing a very different life from what we are used to, we drove back to Boryspil airport where we took our long connection flight to Tallinn, spending the night in a random hotel in Riga, and now we are back home.
What’s next? Well, it is hard to say. Definitely it won’t end here. We are planning to refine and post pictures, write guides based on our small experience and also reviews of the places where we ate and stayed. The first step though will be finding a suitable place for our 14 flags that we collected, and to gather together all the souveniers and memories we collected during these 25 days and try to close them in a box, even though all the episodes will keep floating in our mind during the next days, bringing a smile with them, together with a bit of nostalgy.
We wish you goodbye and we hope you will enjoy soon our pictures and maybe keep us in consideration if you ever decide to visit one of the places we have been!
D & I