Coffee + morning = happy
see why we get lost??
We ended up in Disneyland

Mountain Bike Trip Map: July 23, 2006
Day 18-Ukraine, Lublin-Ljubomi :
Complete Log entry for Christian

Today we awoke from our apartment in the university dorms and had our coffee from a vending machine which was situated just down the hall. It wasn’t the best but it’s nice to know that vending machines all across the world suck.

The day started fine as I made my usual time on a perfectly bike-friendly road which for the first time had a shoulder large enough to bike on. Every ten kms there was a strategically placed sign telling me to thank the European Union for the road. Anyway I met Emmanuelle in Chelm which was just 20 km form the border of Ukraine. She had planned to take the train to the border but the guys that sold the tickets failed to mention that there was no train.

So we biked together to the border where it became really weird really quick. We first stood in the line of cars for about an hour watching cars pull in front of us. I'm not sure if they had some diplomatic status or special privileges or what ever. Anyway when it was our turn the border guard said that we could not enter Ukraine because we didn’t have a motor vehicles but jus as he finished his sentence he was quickly corrected by his superior and let us through reluctantly. The next obstacle was a long bridge that was backed up with cars for about a km. We weaved in and out to push to the front of the line. Kind of rude but I’m sure it saved us about a month of time. We arrived at the next gate where a mild mannered man was pretending to ignore us for about 2 minutes. We watched as people were getting out of their cars to bug him.

Anyway he gave us a number and pointed towards another gate which separated us from the road. We waited another thirty minutes and a man in a blue hat came and pulled us out to the side to check us in. There was another man who joked with us the whole time about Emmanuelle’s broken arm and the bikes.

We finally crossed the border and took a break of the heat some 10 km down the road. We were exhausted and needed to get out of the sun. We had drunk almost all of our supply of water and headed towards the gas station to refill but we hadn’t thought about changing our money before crossing the border. We also hadn’t realized that no one in the area took MasterCard, traveler’s checks, euros or Polish money.

We headed into the nearest town to find a bank machine but the machine didn’t work and we were lost. On our way out of town we had seen the cab driver who gave us directions to the bank machine. He informed us that there were three machines in town and made a motion to tell me to get into the cab and then he left for some reason. 10 minutes passed and he came back and took me to the machine that worked. Happily Emm and I ate a small supper and left for the road. We wanted to get as far down the road as possible.

About 10-15 km later we turned right on a seemingly harmless path which should have only been for a minute or two. this is one of the most contrasting situations of the whole day and it certainly would be impossible to describe... Imagine being in some of the flattest territory you have ever seen in your life, and then turn left into a little green forest with a little dusty road... Now imagine everything that you would expect not to be there and I assure you they were there right in front of us.

The road opened up unto a little utopian community with brightly lit log cabins a heavily stocked fish pond, deer walking freely among the people and a chief of security that looked like he was just fresh out of a Vietnam book from the early 70s in his military outfit. The people walked slow and wore traditional Ukrainian clothing and I’m not sure but I think there was soft music that seemed to come from the lake.

Everything seemed too perfect and this made me a little uneasy. We were greeted by a man with a huge smile that seemed to bend his whole face upward and he gave us a pricelist. It was only later when I checked the daily exchanges on yahoo when I realized how cheap it was. ... too perfect...