Back to the roots and a visit to an interesting small town
My Ukrainian in-laws spend a lot of time in the village where my mother in-law’s mother live. The village is situated about 100 km south from where we live our usually city life. We go there all the time (in fact we have spent about half of 2020 there because of Corona virus – it is a great place to keep to yourself…). My father in-law’s side of the family also still owns the house where his parents used to live but it has been abandoned for about 8 years. The house is located about 50 km north of where we live. I have the last 4 years (more or less since my wife and I got married) asked if we shouldn’t go and check it out. But the answer from my wife, her father and her mother has always been: “Oh, don’t go there the road is SO bad”. I have been driving all over Ukraine and have seen my share of bad roads – I even got stuck in mud outside our town on a dirt road and was rescued by a farmer in his 4x4 pickup. So I consider myself fit for dealing with Ukrainian roads. Last Saturday I had my wife convinced that now was the time to go there. She had herself found an interesting town about 15 km away from her grandparents abandoned house and the plan was first to check out that town and after that go to the grandparents’ house and maybe stay there overnight (sleeping in our van since we didn’t have keys for the house).
The Town that we wanted to visit is called Antoniny. It was run and owned by the famous and wealthy Polish noble family Potocki. On the map it just looks like a large village. But when you walk around there and see the buildings there it is clear that this in the past wasn’t a normal village. The palace of the family wasn’t there anymore it was burnt down during the Russian revolution. The park was still there and surrounded by a big stone wall and all over the town you can find houses that looks like they belonged to wealthy people. Most of them were in miserable condition but still partly in use (one was a hairdresser anther was selling parts for cars and in a third one there was a flat in one corner of the ground floor even though the rest of the house look like an abandoned ruin). The building in the best condition was the police station.
In one of the service buildings in the palace park there was an exhibition and my wife got a guided tour (while I was playing with our daughter on the playground). It was very interesting (the tour, not the playing…) even though the guide hadn’t been working there for a long time. I asked my wife if she was the only one on the guided tour and she replied yes and added that she was pretty sure that this place wasn’t flooded with tourists judging from the friendly hellos that we got from the locals when we walked around.
We spend a nice afternoon walking around in the little town and got stung by a few mosquitoes at the little stream in the park. There was also a “beach” at a lake. I would have liked to camp there for the night but it was very muddy so we couldn’t go in to the water and it also looked like a place that would been taken over by mosquitoes the second the sun set – and we also had to go back to the roots to visit the house of my wife’s dead grandparents. The house located in a village with so BAD ROADS that no man from Western Europe (=me) could conquer them….
I could see on the map that we had to go about 7 km back on the road where we already had been. There, there was a roundabout. After that we would be on unknown territory and I was anticipating the worst. After the roundabout the road was still fine and after a few km we came to the road the led to the village. At first it was fine but then after the first km there was a part of the road with some serious potholes but still nothing very serious. When we entered the village, the paved road stopped but was replaced with a very nice gravel road. Hmm I said to my wife. What is this with the very bad road? Everything has been fine and now we are here. I am starting to think that you and your family just invented this story about the bad road to keep me away from here.
Well we weren’t quite there and my wife hadn’t been there for years and didn’t recognize anything but she more or less knew the directions it seems like…until we got lost…. I didn’t want to end up in some small dead-end street where I couldn’t turn around so my wife went on-foot to search for the house while I stayed with our sleeping two-year-old daughter in the car.
She called me after 5 min and said that she had found it and gave me the directions but told that I should go and check it myself because she wasn’t sure that it was a good idea to drive there. My daughter was sleeping in her car seat so I thought I could leave her alone for a few min. I turned down the street my wife had explained and almost bumped in to her. She said that I should continue down the road and when it started to go uphill it would be the first house on the left. While she went back to the car, I followed her directions and came to a driveway where the grass was relatively fresh cut. The house was spotless white and the windows almost smelled from fresh paint. That was quite a surprise for me, I had expected to find some overgrown ruin and I was sure that this was the wrong house. I went back to the car where my wife was watching our still sleeping daughter and asked: “The first house on the left?”, “Yes”. “White with blue windows?”, “Yes”.
It turned out that her aunt had spent her holiday painting the house and one of the neighbors, that was herding his cow next to the house and suspiciously asked who we wanted to visit, told us that he had cut the grass.
Though the last 300 meter of trail leading to the house wasn’t very good I drove the car there and parked in the driveway.
We spend half an hour looking around the house and the territory and then decided to drive home when another guy came by. Where the first guy had been very suspiciously this guy was extreme friendly. He shook my hand and though he also asked who I wanted to visit his tone and intonation was very different (way more friendly and relaxed). My wife talked to him for almost half an hour before he would let us go 😊
A week later I met my father and mother in-law and asked them why they kept talking about the bad road to the village when only the last 300 meter really could be a problem at least after rain. Their response was: “What do you mean? The road is VERY BAD!”. Well maybe I just adjusted to the local roads 😊