Saturday, July 29, 2006

Raise your hand if you've been to five countries in one day

Five countries in one day is, of course, old news for Paul and Audrey, who hauled ass through England, France, Belgium, Netherlands and part of Germany on 25 July. At the moment, we're in Kyiv, the capital of what is (in Paul's opinion) the most beautiful country in the world, Ukraine. It's verdant, cheap, and the people have been so good to us. Here's a few of the highlights of Ukraine:

-We got through the Ukraine border with almost no problem
-Shortly after arriving in L'viv - an absolutely beautiful, old city - we were greeted by Roman and Marta, a lovely couple who were more than happy to show us to Hotel George, where we stayed the night. (Roman and Marta, if you're reading this, be sure to email us!)
-We stayed at Hotel George, a grand old place suitable for a czar. Our room would have cost us like $500 a night back in New York.
-We saw the phrase "Space Inverters" spray painted on a garbage dump and agreed that, while Team Newyorkistan is a great name, Team Space Inverters is almost as good
-We went to a big, modern mall and saw ducks walk down a red carpet into the fountain and give a duck-show for the kids
-There are goats, cows, roosters, dogs, and various other animals all along (and sometimes in) the roads
-We stopped moving on a road shortly after leaving L'viv. This was scary because it was somewhat similar to the two times the clutch imploded and cost us a bundle to fix. However, the mitigating factors were a) no clutch smell and therefore no problem with the clutch b) locals who were able to get us moving again with little effort and c) any mechanic here can fix any problem on any Lada within like an hour. The part that cost us a small fortune to get replaced back in England was available at the corner store for a handful of hrvina (Ukrainian money)
-We went to the local auto repair shop and left the car for a couple of hours. The clutch was given a clean bill of health, but the mechanic did something so that the car is far less noisy than it had been...previously, it had been "can't hear the person next to you" loud...now it's loud but tolerably so.
-While the car was being looked at, Anton (who was called in by his father, the mechanic, for his good command of English so that we could tell them what was wrong with the car) and Sergei took us to a local eatery, where we had borscht and beer. It was delicious. Anton and Sergei were awesome and told us a bit of Zolochiv's history (Zolochiv, a city about 75 km outside of L'viv in western Ukraine) and gave us an insiders' look at everyday life in the most beautiful country in the world (Paul's opinion.)
-We got the roof rack welded on yesterday, which will enable carriage of extra fuel.
-I have to trim my moustache with scissors periodically.
-There are 24-hour flower and produce markets in larger towns and cities here, we've discovered.
-We bought two cassette tapes at a gas station - some kind of disco mix and "best of the 90s." One of the tapes had the song "Hands Up" on it, which I last heard circa 1990. I now fully realize how fruity that song truly is.
-We drove around Kyiv for like an hour looking for a place to use the Internet. We figured the large, modern mall would have Internet access. Not so. We drove around a bit more looking for the place that did have it, and trying to park (not easy.) We drove up and down curbs, over trolley tracks, and through roundabouts and half-roundabouts before we finally parked in a garage, where...
-WE FOUND OTHER RALLY CARS!!! There were three of them parked in the garage that we went into by chance. They were pointed out to us by Vladimir from Kazakhstan, the very helpful attendant. We now have to find the owners of those cars.
-Audrey and I are considering getting a tattoo (when we come back to NY of course) of "E40" - that's the road that runs from France to Kazakhstan. I will enjoy explaining, for the rest of my life, what the E40 is.
-I still need a suit/tuxedo for the End of Rally party in Ulaan Bataar. I know, I know, don't count your chickens...but I don't want to be there dressed like a schmuck (although Audrey says that I look neat and presentable in my handsome .travel shirt.)

Well then...let's find those other Rallyers so that we can convoy our way to UB!

-PH

2 Comments:

Anonymous Sarah Grafman said...

Do you remember the "Hands Up" dance? Totally adds another shade of meaning to the song.

I'm glad you're loving Ukraine. I'm sorry I can't get through to call you (been trying all weekend). I hope you have continued awesome & safe travels.

Oh, and have you started playing road games yet? Billboard ABCs in Cyrillic!

xoxox

12:23 PM  
Blogger ICMT said...

Team Ramrod is reported to be in small town near Luhansk in Ukraine, near split of E40 and E50, getting repairs. That is as of July 30th.

3:45 PM  

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