The last days in Košice (still in Slovakia) were marked with preparations for the border crossing into Ukraine. After a whole day in the city we were able to work off our long to-do list incl. PCR test.
Excited about the test result, we set off that same evening towards the border, which takes us 2 days.
At 5 o’clock in the morning, we were not woken up by an SMS with the test result, but by a violent thunderstorm with lightning strikes in the immediate vicinity. We immediately decided to pack all 7 things and cycle to the village. We found shelter at a church and as we comfortably toasted our breakfast bread, the pastor of the church approached us. After an interesting exchange, she invited us on a tour of her church. Who can enjoy a private tour at 7 in the morning 😃?!
In the afternoon we were approached by Jan, a young Slovak, on the bike path and ended up at his and his mother’s house for tea and coffee. Enthusiastically he showed us his motorcycle, with which he has already traveled around the neighboring countries and now has planned a trip to the north (Denmark, etc.) for the summer vacations. When we told him about our onward journey to Ukraine, he only said “Oh, there is a different world waiting for you then”. It’s not like we already felt like we were in another world in Slovakia 😊.
Now the time has come, we see the border and are slightly nervous; what awaits us? Do we have all the documents we need? Leisurely the border officials set to work and took a close look at our papers (passport, Corona insurance certificate and PCR test). After four stops, we successfully set our feet on Ukrainian soil.
Since Ukraine is not a member of the EU and therefore does not accept Euros, we first had to go in search of an ATM and withdraw Hryvnia (1 CHF = about 30 Hryvnia).
For our “tips and tricks” box, here’s some advice for a travel credit card:
We both use a Revolut bank card, which is highly recommended as it has extremely good exchange rates and no foreign transaction fees. In addition, you can withdraw CHF 200 per month from the ATM free of charge.
You can find more information here: Moneyland
As in Slovakia, we asked a Warmshowers host for the first day to get first tips on the route and other important info. Wir konnten bei Alissa in ihrem Bed & Bike Hostel übernachten.We were able to stay with Alissa at her Bed & Bike Hostel. One planned night turned into three. The events came thick and fast 😅. It was like this:
Alissa asked us if it would be ok if she would organize a small party for people interested in our world trip and if the local TV for the German speaking minority in Transcarpathia would come by. We agreed.
Fully professional came two cameramen and a moderator incl. complete equipment. Quickly we approved ourselves a schnapps, now we are ready 😂.
Together with Alissa we cooked the traditional Ukrainian dish “Borschtsch” in front of the camera. We were then interviewed about our travel plans and equipment.
The recording will air around mid-June, if it’s worth watching we’ll share the link 😉🙈.
Tomas and Viktor, whom we met at the party, showed us their city of Uzhgorod the next day. Together with them and Viktor’s girlfriend we strolled through the alleys. They showed us various beautiful corners and culinary highlights and helped us to organize the SIM card for Ukraine.
Alissa asked if we would stay an extra night because she was organizing a breakfast with her hiking group at the Bed & Bike the next morning and the group was interested in us. So it happened that at the end we were able to enjoy a local breakfast with a fun group and musical accompaniment.
It already tickles our legs, we want to continue. Our destination in Ukraine is the city of Odessa in the south of the country on the Black Sea. There is still a long way to go – the country is twice the size of Germany – at the moment we are driving through the hills of the Carpathians.
So far we feel very comfortable in Ukraine, very friendly people meet us every day and the food is super tasty and super cheap. It seems as if time has stopped, everything runs a bit more leisurely.
A few impressions from the road: