We wake up to cloudy skies and it looks like it might rain again any minute. Time to pack up, have some breakfast and then onwards! Today we aim for Bukovel, mostly known as a big ski resort. We had planned a route via some smaller roads on the map, but seeing the condition (or sometimes even non-existance) of what should be a fairly big road on our map, I have my doubts about the feasiblitly.
We set out after saying our goodbyes to Andrej, the nice hotel manager. We had an interesting talk with him yesterday evening while trying to escape the girls who were clearly trying to get us to party with them. He gave us some insight on the current situation in Ukraine and how local people perceive it. He was also quite open on his ambitions and where he wanted to go and that was basically anywhere in Europe as long as it was not Ukraine. He was working hard to reach his goal and I’m certain one day soon he will!
We leave Sinevir behind and head for the mountains. On the map we have a fairly big road but on Jo’s gps the road is indicated as unpaved road and on mine it’s just non-exitant. Hmm… we decide to go and check it out anyway.
The first part seems promising with clearly freshly laid tarmac.
But then, suddenly, behind a bend, the tarmac disappears.
The gravel road seems quite ok until it splits up and we don’t know really which way to go. My GPS is completely lost, Jo’s has something that looks like a footpath. We start down the left hand path but when we run into an elderly woman and her grandson and ask for the way to Ust Chorna, they both point in different directions. Not really helpful.
The path we are on seems to deviate to the left further down a little valley and we clearly have to go right. So we turn around to check out the other path.
It does look less travelled…
Jo decides to check it out while I turn my bike around. Last nights ‘party’ apparently was a bit too much for me. I clearly did not have enough sleep and I’m not too steady on my feet. And of course, I drop the bike.
By that time I’ve had enough. In hindsight nowt, I think Jo’s description sounded worse than what he actually saw, but we decide to have a look at the map again. This stretch of the road is supposed to be quite good but if it continues like this we will never reach Bukovel tonight.
So we decide to retrace our steps and stay on tarmac for the time being.
Well… tarmac is perhaps not the right word…
Back on the main road, we take a short break and Jo notices that some of his constructions are not sturdy enough to withstand the constant beating of the potholes.
By now, the sun is out in full force. The countryside keeps amazing us and we take another turn off the main roads into the mountains. At a certain point, my GPS indicates that I’m off the planned track again. The map is clearly of not much use and we have to ask around again to find the right route. Although we stuck to what seemed the bigger of the gravel roads, a local farmer tells me we missed our turn. We follow his directions and find a small road heading further into the mountains.
We find a nice picknick spot under the trees. Compared to the grey clouds this morning, it is getting sunny and warm now.
We follow the road further into the mountains. On the map it’s a yellow backroad to Rachiv. The road looks like it was paved a long time ago but never maintained. From time to time we spot stretches of tarmac, sometimes really potholed, in most places washed away partly. and then there are stretches where the tarmac has gone completely. We start to realise that our map probably dates back to the times when this road was freshly paved. Since then, it looks like these smaller roads were never maintained are are in very poor condition. That puts the rest of our planned route a bit into perspective as well.
The road is largely deserted and the higher we get the more stunning the views become.
The road takes us over the mountains and then down to Rachiv. As we make our way down, the road becomes a bit more technical with a few tight bends and more washed out tarmac.
In Rachiv, we take the main road towards Bukovel, our aim for tonight.
We arrive in Bukovel around 5PM and are taken aback a bit by the touristy feel of the entire place. It reminds me of any typical ski resort in France, very busy in winter time but totally deserted when there’s no snow. Apart from a few groups of school children on a school outing, there is no one about.
We head into what we think is the center and ride straight to the biggest hotel in view. On our wishlist: hot shower, secure parking. The rest would be a plus.
And we’re not disappointed by what the rest offers!
Shower, laundry and then into town to find something to eat. We walk around for while and find some very interesting constructions. This one looks more like it would fit in nicely somewhere in Barcelona next to Gaudi’s other buildings.
We are starting to get hungry but it seems there’s not much available. Most places are closed or under construction. We find the only place that’s open and serves food so we settle for some shaslik and beer!