Last Thursday I took a road trip across Ukraine that took me from Donetsk to Dnipropetrovsk to Kiev, around 740 km (460 miles). It took around 10 hours to make the trip.
Ukraine is in full bloom right now after a long winter. So, it was a beautiful drive to see the trees turning green. Much of the land between the cities was being plowed in preparation for crops.
One of the least pleasant aspects of my trip were the roads. The roads in Ukraine have been virtually ignored for many years so they are in really bad shape. Of course, winter just passed so there are lots of pot holes needing to be filled in. Another fact is that most of the main roads are just two lanes.
Imagine driving down a two lane road filled with long haul trucks, and other assorted vehicles from the Soviet era, and you get long stretches where you are caught behind vehicles and not able to pass. Therefore, a 460 mile trip turns into 10 hours. Also, I only made 3 short stops on the way.
The return trip I took a different route. I went from Kiev to Kharkov to Donetsk. I have to say the roads from Kiev to Kharkov were some of the best roads I have driven on in some time. Also, they are expanding the roads between the two cities to a divided, 4 lane highway. This road will definitely be ready for Euro 2012.
The trip between Kharkov and Donetsk took 4 hours (I did take a 20 minute break along the way). This road was probably the worst of all the roads, except maybe a stretch around Kremenchuk. Lots of potholes, especially in the cities.
However, the landscape was terrific. I noticed the soil was dark and is part of what makes Ukraine the “breadbasket” of Europe. Lots of plows dotted the landscape preparing the soil for crops.
Another thing I noticed on Monday morning were the number of people walking to the cemeteries. The Sunday after Easter is their “Decoration Day.” The day they remember their dead. Sunday, May 1 was also Labor Day, so I guess many waited to go on Monday as it was a holiday as well.
I enjoyed the road trip but I am always glad to be home. Dorothy was right… “there is no place like home.”