Kyiv, here we come!

The first road trip this year was a trip to Kiev. The reason was not just pure pleasure because we had some official business to conduct in Kiev. We (9 months old baby, wife and Jesper) left our home in Khmelnitsky Saturday morning and headed to Kiev. The first thing we had to do was to get the car fueled. The “car” is a VW T3 bus from 1986 that mean it is 33 years old! There are a few “minor” things that don’t work. E.g. the speedometer and the gas (diesel) gauge. This means that fueling the car is a bit of a guessing game because you never know for sure when the tank is empty. It only happened once in 2 years that I actually ran out of fuel, so I have the rule of thumb that for every 100 km I plan to drive, I buy 10 liter of diesel. The car doesn’t consume that much. but then there is a little for detours and for the occasional driving I do in side our hometown.

The distance from Khmelnitsky to Kiev is about 350 km, so I decided that I just wanted to fill the tank completely, which is about 50 L. I said this to the woman at the gas station while showing my credit card, and she replied: “how many liters?”. I said : “I don’t know, just fill the tank up”. She replied: “I need to know how many liters”. “Well” I said, “40 liters” (using my rule of thumb with a safety margin). “Are your sure that it will fit into the tank, because we don’t do refunds?” the woman asked, and I replied “Yes, pretty sure and I also have an extra container”. So I paid and the “fuel guy” started to fuel the car.

At 25 liter a loud “click” from the fuel gun told us that the car was full. The “fuel guy” asked what now and I gave him my 10 liters container (that already felt pretty heavy). When that was full, another 5 liter of diesel had left the fuel gun. “So what about the rest” the fuel guy asked. “I don’t know” I said. “Maybe we can sell it to the guy who just arrived”. “No he already paid” was the reply. “Then I guess it is a present from me to the next client”. “Don’t you have some old bottles or containers” asked the fuel guy. I showed him a 6 liter water bottle full of water and he nodded approvingly. “Empty it” he said. I emptied it and he filled it up with diesel. Now the fuel meter showed that I had received 36.5 liter of the 40 I had paid for and even though the fuel guy insisted that I found some more empty containers I said “bye bye”, and as I left I could see that he walked to a beaten rusty Lada and picked up a container and filled the remaining 3.5 liters into it.

“Well” I said to my wife, “I guess I should have paid cash, then they would have refunded fuel, but somehow, they can’t do it when you pay with credit card”. Strange world – but they warned me so who to blame, but yourself 😊

Very well fueled, we finally left Khmelnitsky. The baby was sleeping, the weather was good and the road in a better condition than I remembered it, so we drove for 2 hours before it was time to stop. Feed baby and parents and play. And not to forget: To fill the diesel from the water container into the tank. Diesel is not dangerous like gasoline, but it is very greasy so I didn’t want the container to start leaking inside the car.

We also stopped in Zhytomyr that is about halfway between Khmelnitsky and Kiev. It was Mother’s Day, and in Zhytomyr this was celebrated by a military brass band marching through town and after the band mothers (and fathers) with baby carriages were marching too 😊

And we saw the "Arc de triomphe" of  Zhytomyr...

We had an entire day to drive the 350 km so we decided to take a stop more in an old quarry outside Zhytomyr that is now used as a recreational area where people come to BBQ and rest.

There was a big 4X4 Truck there that looked like it was ready for the next Paris-Dakar, or maybe an expedition through the jungle. At some point a young man, who looked like the very proud owner, climbed on the car to clean the windshield with a spray bottle. I was thinking to myself that this was hilarious that this brutal looking off-road car was not allowed to get dirty when a slightly beaten full size travel bus arrived and a camera team stared to setup their equipment on a rocky surface. Shortly after, a beautiful couple where sitting in front of a fire with the truck in the background and the cameras where on, on the ground as well as in the air where a big drone was hoovering.

Everybody was taken photos of the setup, and only one guy discovered where the real beauty was….he was photographing my car 😊

It was almost dark now and the mosquitoes where getting hungry so we decided to drive to Kiev and find a calm spot for the night. The road between Zhytomyr and Kiev are good with two lanes in each direction (well let me be honest – it is the best road in Ukraine!). The cars are driving pretty fast, +140 km/h, but in the other direction, a guy had managed to tip over his tractor and another tractor was trying to pull the unfortunate tractor back on its wheels. Quite a dangerous task as it was dark and none of the tractors had very bright light on. 

As we entered Kiev around 20:30 there were a lot of cars, and I was starting to wonder if there could be parking spots for all of us, but luckily there was. We found a good calm spot in an area with some flats next to a park. The only thing that worried me, was that the car in front of us. It didn’t have a windshield or a license plate and it looked like it had been abandoned years ago.

It was the first time that we travelled with our 9 months old daughter so we were not sure how she would react, but she did fine. She even seemed to be more happy than usual because both mother and father were there all the time to play and entertain.

The next day we handled our official business and after a little walk in Kiev we decided to start driving back to Khmelnitsky. We had self-cooked dinner at a very nice lake next to the road, stopped once for gas (I paid cash this time…😊 ) and arrived safe and tired in Khmelnitsky around 9:00 PM.