The “only” 190 km to Odessa, which we wanted to divide into 3 days, turned out to be the biggest challenge of our journey so far. On the 1st day, rain and sun and thus rain clothes on and off alternated in a 30-minute cycle. Finally we capitulated and let the rain sprinkle us.
On the 2nd day we were looking forward to better weather and remote roads and villages. While planning the route, we noticed a small, 4 km long intermediate section, which was marked as an unpaved road. We didn’t think much of it, as this is basically the rule, even if the road is marked as paved. So we made good progress at the beginning, enjoying the reasonably good roads and beautiful poppy fields.
Arriving at a small village, Volodymyrivka (just before the dirt road), a local resident pointed out to us with hand signals that the road further ahead would not be passable. Thereupon we answered with the translator that we have already crossed some muddy roads and that this was not a problem.
When she saw us again 5 hours later covered in mud, she just smirked. Now to our 5-hour detour (during which we covered a whopping 2 km 😂):
The first few meters we could still push our bikes reasonably well through the clay-like mud that stuck to the whole bike. But soon the mud became deeper and deeper, the bikes heavy as lead and both wheels blocked completely again and again.
When it went neither forward nor backward and we were up to our ankles in mud, we had to make a decision. Either we push/carry the bicycles for another 3 km or turn around and take a detour of at least 30 km. Since our forces were almost completely used up and Beni’s mudguard was blown away by the mud, we turned back.
On the last meters of the way back it started to thunder heavily and we could just find shelter at a bus stop. Finally we had the opportunity to prepare our “lunch” at 4 pm and wait out the rain. While we were still eating, a man and his son came towards us and made it clear, again with hand signals, that we could spend the night with them. It was a unique opportunity to gain insight into simple village life. No running water, many power outages, no shower, outhouse in the garden and mainly self-sufficient life.
Luckily for such nice people we brought a souvenir from Switzerland and we were able to make the boy a huge joy with a small Swiss army knife 😀.
We had lost all our strength, so we decided to travel the rest of the way by train.
To do this, we first had to drive the 30 km detour and then another 30 km to the next station. All this on good luck, because we didn’t find a timetable and nobody could really tell us if we could take the bikes on the train.
It worked 😃, we and our bikes went for € 4 the remaining 70 km by train to Odessa!
Arriving in Odessa we are picked up by Alex with his adventurous folding bike and we ride together to his apartment, where we are allowed to be his Warmshowers guests for the next days. Thanks to him, we get to very exciting places in the city, far from the normal tourism. He took us to a party where experimental music was being played, which you can think of as people making instruments out of everyday objects like a rusty piece of tin. Furthermore, together with him we visited a secret, abandoned, dilapidated industrial complex with a private beach section directly on the Black Sea.
Alex also helped us to take the PCR test to be able to take the ferry to Georgia on 6/22.
But now it so happens that the evening before we noticed that the departure date has been moved back by one day – without us being informed about it. We were then told on the phone that our ferry had suffered an engine room fire and was therefore out of service indefinitely. At the moment the shit is hitting the fan at the ferry company and we have no choice but to wait 1-2 days for more information. We are also toying with the idea of taking the ferry to Turkey if there is no other way. Let’s see where fate takes us 😃.
In the meantime, we stroll through the city and do various little things. We are already looking forward to repeating the PCR test again 🤪.