Big walks and big spoons
08.08.2012 - 09.08.2012
I’ve been out on the road for the last few days and haven’t really had time to catch up with my blog. At the time of writing I’m in Kiev so what follows is a very brief summary of my time in the beautiful city of Kharkiv.
I spent the whole of Wednesday and Thursday in Kharkiv and tried my best to take in as many of the local sights as possible. The first day I was left to my own devices and spent most of the afternoon updating my blog and moving from one eatery to another sampling the great food on offer.
I did find out that there are no Starbucks in Ukraine but there is a chain named ‘Coffee Life’ which apart from the colours and name bears an almost uncanny resemblance to it’s more famous foreign counterpart.
Vika my host didn’t work on Thursday and we originally planned to take a bike tour of the city however the weather look a bit ominous when I woke up and we decided it might be best to leave the bikes behind and head out on foot. To be honest I wasn’t that disappointed. I’m not a huge fan of riding in cities and even less so when I’m not familiar with them. In addition it’s good to give the backside a rest from time to time.
I did make one specific request to Vika that we take in the stadium that is home to FC Metalist; with Kharkiv being one of the host cities of Euro 2012 Metalist’s stadium played home to a number of matches. The stadium was very modern and had been refurbished for the tournament. It was just a shame that I wouldn’t be in Kharkiv on Sunday when the team will take on the bizarrely named ‘Arsenal Kiev’
My host and Metalist fan Vika.
Having got my stadium fix we took a walk into the city centre. I’d seen some of the sights the day before but going with a local person you really get to see all the small little side streets and interesting places that one would otherwise usually pass in total oblivion.
She also took me to the excellent Ukrainian restaurant chain ‘Puzata Hata’ (sounds like Pizza Hut but it isn’t) Interestingly Sergey in Voronezh also suggested I check this place out whilst in Ukraine. It serves delicious and reasonably priced local food in a traditional Ukrainian setting. It was interesting to note that the board offering dishes quite clearly stated ‘Ukrainian Borsch’ People here are very insistent that Russians don’t make borsch and the only ‘real’ borsch is to be found within the borders of the Ukraine.
Vika had planned out quite an extensive tour of the city and by the end of the day I was failing to keep up with her rigorous pace. I think I could be excused, since leaving Voronezh I’ve hardly stopped and keep meaning to just simply have a day where I actually do what a rest day is meant for….that is namely rest!
Where is Wiggins when you need him? This is supposed to be a rest day for me
After a long day on my feet I was crying out for a rest and arriving back at their apartment was a welcome relief. In my mind I had already started making my plans for the next day which would see me start my ride towards Kiev.
I spent most of my last evening in Kharkiv listening to Pavel recount stories of life previously in the Ukraine under Soviet rule and also his forthright opinions regarding the current state of the country and the way it is run. It wasn’t all such weighty topics mind and Pavel was kind enough to present me with a gift. As I mentioned in my previous blog he is an artist and it turns out also a dab hand at sculpting too. I was however a little surprised when he presented me with a giant wooden spoon which he had hand crafted himself. It was an incredibly kind gesture and I was really honoured it’s just I’m not entirely sure how it will fit in with the rest of my luggage. I’ll find a way though and one of the challenges now will be to get said spoon home in one piece. I don’t have a picture of it at the moment but will post one up at a later date.