I’ve been living in the Ukraine for over a year now and I have a huge amount of photos (more posts about Ukraine to follow) but these ones are specifically from the road. The town that we live in, Kamenets-Podilsky, is a seven hour drive from the airport in Kiev. We’ve had nine hour car trips each way to Odessa in the south and five hours each way to Lviv in the north west, as well as some random touring around. The last three photos are actually from my first day here and I loved the blue and green coloured cottages against the snowy landscape.
Almost all of these photos have been taken with my iPhone from the car as we’re driving past on the way to somewhere else with a long journey ahead and no time to stop, which is why alot of them are so blurry and grainy. You can drive for hours here with very little to break the monotony but then you might unexpectedly see a group of babushkas out walking in the snow, heads together for the latest news. Their brightly coloured clothes and shawls are such an exciting relief from the grim and dreary winter landscape the scene has me frantically searching for my phone. Usually by the time I’ve got the camera on the moments gone, or the picture is just a massive blur. I’ve missed so many great ‘Ukraine moments’ in that way.
Looking at these pictures and the ones I have that were too blurry to keep, and also remembering all the moments I missed, I am definitely planning more trips into rural Ukraine to really do it justice. Walking and cycling is a much better way to properly see the countryside here, while the main roads are notoriously bad, the rural roads are far worse. We’ve been down some roads where we only covered about 20 miles in an hour because of manoeuvring the potholes. Calling them potholes doesn’t really give the right idea, there are parts where whole sections of the road has been eroded away!
Much of Ukraine can be strangely familiar, sometimes it doesn’t feel all that ‘foreign’. When we’re asked what is it like to live in Ukraine we talk about how the roads are so bad, how eating out isn’t always a disaster and at times the poverty and political corruption can be shocking, but there’s no cultural identity in that.
The thing is there’s no easy way to get into the heart of the real Ukraine. There are many villages here where the only way to the bus stop and back home again is anyway you like through the sunflower fields. What you find down the inaccessible roads and through the fields is not just unfamiliar, it’s unique. There are brightly coloured cottages with hand painted flowers and beautiful folk patterns, surrounded by wildflower gardens and trees like something right out of a fairy tale. Everything is brightly decorated in ways only they would know how. Inspired by their own folk heritage, things suddenly begin to ‘look’ Ukrainian, ‘feel’ Ukrainian. I’m sure the locals there could tell you a story or two that would put their village on the map.
Posts on Kamenets-Podilsky to follow… △