Last evening I was thinking a lot about my first ever abroad trip. Maybe it will surprise you, but my very first trip was to Ukraine. How it happened, how I got there and what happened there? Answers on these questions you will find in this blog post. Have a nice reading and get ready for my biggest adventure from 2013! And, please accept the fact that in this year I still owned old camera and I was not so perfect in taking photos 🙂
It started in Slovakia, in front of cave
Before I started to travel away from Slovakia, I wanted to discover my own country first. So I bought a month ticket and was traveling from home to somewhere and back. Everyday like this. It was really tiring but I loved it. One day when I was sitting at home, I decided to visit Dobsinska ice cave. It is located in East part of Slovakia. I had never been there so I though it will be nice to go. I packed some things in backpack and catched the first morning train. Train brought me to village on time and I started to walk up to the cave. On the way up I met with a guy from Nove Zamky. It is a city in South Slovakia. He came here with his mom and he was quite talkative. So we talked a lot, in front of cave also inside the cave and when we were returning from the cave, he saw a small waterfall. He liked it that much that we went down to the waterfall, where we wanted to make a picture. Next to it was a couple, he asked them to take a picture of us. As we found out, they were not Slovaks. With my not so good English I found out they are from Ukraine and they are making their honeymoon trip to Italy from Mikolajiv in South Ukraine. I was really interested so I asked them if the would like to go with us for a lunch. They agreed so we went. Our chat was really nice. We found out many new things about Ukraine. It was time for me to leave for a train back home. But my heart did not want to let me go so early. So I decided to take a bus with those Ukrainians and to go to Poprad where they stayed in hostel. I remember I went to their hostel room where I talked a bit with them. We took some photos in the city and that was it. It was time to leave. They promised me to visit me on their way to Italy in my city. And as they promised they arrived. They stopped just for few minutes, brought me some Ukrainian candies. I have to say it was really nice from them. I think I still keep some of these packs at home. Later they arrived to Italy and in few weeks they got back to Mikolajiv.
As time went, I was talking with Elena, the girl from this couple, on Skype. She told me that I have to visit them once in Ukraine. I remember, it was a Friday and I said like, ok so, I will come on Monday! She said no problem. And this is where the real story begins.
Train to Ukraine – Mikolajiv
I told my mom that I am going to Ukraine to visit those friends who I knew just for few hours. She was not really happy but she agreed. So I fastly packed myself during weekend and on Monday I took a train after lunch. First stop was going to be Chop in Ukraine, where we had to change the train wheels. I remember we arrived there really late in the evening. As we were coming to the board, police cars were riding the road next to us and when we stopped they stopped also. There were with me some Czech guys traveling on the same train and I remember as they had this huge bottle of beer, which they put of from the window on small rope. It was really funny to see the combination of our train, police car and beer bottle which was hanging out from window.
So we got to Chop and the train crew told us to stay in our beds, police should come to check our passport. First, police dogs ran through our wagon and were checking for some illegal stuffs like alcohol or drugs. One guy in my place forgot some kind of weed cream on the desk, but dog did not notice it. So we found out there was no probably any percent of weed in this super natural product haha. Than a big lady came and asked for our passports. She collected them and took them away to the office at train station. Our train moved and we were quite nervous without our passport. That workers started to change the wheel. It took about 3 hours to change them. It was quite a fun to sit on train which was hanged 1 meter over the ground. When everything was done, we returned back to the train station in Chop and got our passports. Than, we were ready to get with our train to our first official stop in Lviv. And there was waiting Marichka.
Lviv – Marichka and chocolate
I arrived to Lviv … actually I do not remember if it was early morning and after the lunch. But it does not matter. I arrived and when I opened the train door, Marichka was waiting there for me. Who is Marichka? Marichka is another friend from Ukraine who I met during my Slovakian journeys that summer. I met her in Martin on bus stop and we planned together one trip in Slovakia to Spis castle. And now on my way to Mikolajiv I decided to visit her as I had few hours free time in Lviv. She was working in chocolate factory, so we went there to get some nice cups of chocolate. It was really delicious I have to say. I miss that chocolate really a lot. She recommended to me a cup where was mixed white, dark and normal chocolate. On the top was a hazel nut. Than we walked around the city a little bit and later I had to catch my train to Mikolajiv. It was a direct train which went 25 hours or so. I said bye to Marichka, found my bed on the train and got ready to take some rest. First of all I have to say, I did not find my bed so easily as it was necessary to build it first. But one really nice lady helped me. I got clean pillow and other things which I put on the bed. When the night came, I was trying to fall a sleep but it was kinda hard. I really do not remember why, I just remember that the countryside was just like fields, fields and field than a train and fields again. When we arrived to Vinitca, we had a break for 30 minutes. As I did not bring enough food I hoped to get out and find something to buy.
I was pretty lucky. I did not know it exists in Ukraine but on platforms in Vinitca were some old ladies, selling some products. Cheese, bread, sweets, water and also smoked fish. Smoked fish were really weird, and the whole fish was smoked and hanged on some piece of wood. I wanted to try one but when I imagined to come back on train with this fish in my hands, no, I said I could not do this. When I had enough food for rest of my journey, I felt satisfied. I got into my bed, closed my eyes and hoped, that I will arrive to Mikolajiv on time and Elena with her boyfriend will wait for me there.
I arrived. After almost 3 days I did it and arrived to Mikolajiv. When I got from the train, I found out I was in last wagon so I had to walk like a kilometer to the train station. Luckily I saw Elena on the other side so my heart jumped a little bit as I was no more afraid if they will wait for me or not. We hugged and did not believe that we met after so short time. We went to their flat and I finally had chance to put my heavy backpack down. First evening we just walked around the city, I bought s SIM CARD and that was it. I was curious what we will do next.
Mikolajiv day 2nd
Houston we have a problem. I recognized that I did not have a ticket back home. So we went to the train station and on our surprise we found out that all the trains till October are fully booked. So what to do? We were trying to call everybody to ask for a solution and finally, we found out that I had to travel to Odessa with a bus and then catch a train to Lviv and then Slovakia. I don’t know why but I was not really stressed. But now when I think about it, I did not know how to speak Ukrainian, how to read Ukrainian etc. I am surprised now that I was not really stressed. So this problem was solved and what next? I was going to be in Mikolajiv for some days so what was the plan? Elena said, the had a plan and that I will see next day. So I was really curious!
Mikolajiv day 3rd – leaving
We woke up in the morning and went to Sasha family to get his father car. When we got the car we went to store to buy some things. They were buying food, rice, potatoes, majonese etc. I really did not know where we were going. And when we packed all of these things and 2 other friends joined us, they told me the secret. We were going to Krym in South of Ukraine to camp next to the Black sea. It was 400km far away and I was .. just amazed. I had never ever though once I will get to the Black sea and to the Krym.
Journey to the Krym took many and many hours. We arrived super late in the evening and we were building tents just with some torches. I heard the sea in background but did not see it. I had no idea how the countryside looks around. I was so nervous to see it in the morning. So I jumped into my small tent and I was waiting for the morning.
I was opening the zipped door of my tent. And when I opened it I saw it. The Black sea was just right there. We built our tents maybe just 200 meters from the sea. I was amazed. I loved it. I went to the sea as it was first time in my life when I saw it. I loved it. Color was so beautiful and it was super clean. Water was nice, I mean it had good temperature and it was also windy in this area so when I got back to my tent and wanted to rest, it felt so good as it was warm and the wind was like air-conditioned in my tent. We lived far from city and in this place was just one store. So when we wanted to buy something like a beer or so, we had to walk for about 40 minutes. I loved it here. I was so happy they took me here.
Next day I woke up really early in the morning as I wanted to find some shells and to walk next to the sea as far as it was just possible. I remember as I was calling to mom and telling here what I was doing. She was still a bit scared haha as she imagined that there might be some bad people around haha. But she was not right. I was completely alone. Sun was going higher and higher and I was just further and further from our camp. When I returned after 4 hours or so, everybody was awaked. They put some swimming suits on them and we went to the water. We had some great time.
In the evening Sasha alway went to the sea to catch some crabs and shells and later we cooked them by ourselves. I loved the taste of crabs. I will never forget the taste. It was so nice. And when I am talking about food. Maybe you are thinking if we were so alone there and the city was far, where we went for a toilet. It is a good question. We dig a hole, put some textile around it and that was it. Super beach toilet. On my big surprise, it was really clean and I promise that sometimes when I used it, I also heard that flushing sound as you can hear when you flush toilet at home. It was really funny.
One day we also made a trip to cliffs. We had to climb a ladder down and then we had a chance to enjoy nice cliffs with its shadows which protected us from sun. Sasha also brough some scuba diving things so we were doing some scuba diving also. I loved it. We also jumped from the cliffs. I was pretty afraid but I did it few times. Later we returned back to our beach.
We had a lot of nice and fun time in Krym. We peeled potatoes next to the sea, we lost our water melon and beer in sand and found it later few meters away. We had many nice chats and … just everything was perfect. I loved it. A way back to Mikolajiv was kind of sentimental for me as I knew I will have to return back to Slovakia soon.
Last moment in Mikolajiv, Odessa and way back home
Last day in Mikolajiv Elena walked with me around the town once again and we went to the zoo. I forgot to tell you about animals in Mikolajiv. Everywhere were dogs, just dogs. When we went to the store, dogs, in parks dogs, next to post office dogs. I was thinking, where are all the cats? And the last day gave me an answer, They all were in the ZOO, probably hiding from all these dogs.
Later, I had to catch my bus to Odessa. I said bye to Elena and got on the bus. It took about 4 hours to get to Odessa and luckily I found train station really fast. I had to find also a train to Uzghorod. With this mom helped me as she knew how to read Ukrainian alphabet. So from that time I know that in word Uzghorod you have a letter which looks like a spider. The officer checked my passport and ticket, I got on the train and the train started it journey to Lviv. There I met with Marichka once again, we spend few hours together and then I started my final journey to Puchov, to my home town.
Way back was kinda sad because I had such a great time in Ukraine. I have never expected to have this kind of experience. And if I remember how this story started, that I was lucky to meet strangers in Slovakia, and get friend with them and then go to visit them. If you asked me before if this is possible, I will never say yes. I loved it and this is why I love traveling also. It brings every time so many nice moments and situations. And because of traveling I can also share these amazing stories with you. I appreciate I had a chance to share this story with you and thanks for reading it.