Summer road trip in Ukraine - part II

Holiday 2017 part II

In the last post we said goodbye to Monty and Natalia and headed north. Sunday the 2nd of July, we found a canyon situated in the middle of nowhere. To get there we left the main road and drove on a bad tarmac road until we came to a village. On the other side of the village the tarmac road stopped and cobblestone started.

After about 8 km on this road (who made this road anyway? The Romans???) we came to a little village and here the cobblestone road stopped and now the road was just a gravel road that took us the last few hundred meters to the canyon. The canyon was very beautiful and there was no trash to be seen, a pleasant surprise after our visit in Buky Canyon.

The female part of our travelling party likes to take photos. They wanted to make photos of themselves standing on the roof of the van. First I was against the idea, but soon I gave in and ended up on the roof of the van myself so I could get a new profile picture for Facebook…

We also went down into the canyon and I swam in the little river there. It was very beautiful and calm surroundings.

The next morning it was my birthday and what a great place to start that day. After breakfast we decided to hit the road again.

Somewhere on the main road we saw a sign about a Rocket Museum and since everybody thought that it sounded interesting, we decided to go there. It turned out to be an old military base that had been a part of the Ukrainian/USSR nuclear defense. It was very interesting with 45 m deep bunkers to protect the staff and the equipment, but also scary because they had one huge nuclear rocket (affectionately known as “Satan”…) that was powerful enough to (or “is” powerful because Russia apparently still have them) blow up half of Ukraine.

And “Satans Taxi” – the truck used to move the rocket.

And a special wagon used to position “Satan” in his 45 m deep silo.

And the top of the silo.

Here is a picture from the museum where the bunker silo to the left is for the staff and the one on the right is for “Satan”.

Here we have entered the tunnel that lead to the staff bunker (it is the “white tube” in top left corner of the previous photo).

We didn’t go down into the bottom of the staff bunker, but it was possible for an additional fee.

We ended the day in Uman (where we also went through on the way out). The main point of interest this time was the fountain with music and laser light. After one song I had seen enough and just wanted to sleep. The girls, however, thought it was fantastic or at least it was a good background for selfies… But when your “bed” is parked 4 meters from the fountain all this is not a problem, so I went to bed and they continued making photos. It was the first time on this trip that we slept inside a town, but there were public toilets and a security guard who took care of us (and the fountain) so it was an excellent camp spot.

The next day, the plan was to drive to Vinnitsa to see another fountain sponsored by the (now former) president Poroshenko who also runs his “chocolate empire” from there. Before going to Vinnitsa, we wanted to checkout a castle. My wife had found information about it on the internet, but officially it wasn’t supposed to be open for visitors. She had, however, made up her mind and wanted to see it so we drove there. It was a long drive, but most of the time we drove in the right direction (of home). We arrived in a little village where the castle was supposed to be. We found a long and tall stone wall and a closed gate. “Well”, I thought, “that was it”, but after a little talk with the guard we were allowed to enter. It was a very big territory surrounded by a stone wall on all sides except one where a lake was creating a natural barrier. There were other buildings beside the castle and it was very interesting.

There even was a little holiday cottage.

After the little castle territory tour, we took a break on the other side of the lake and even though we were in the middle of nowhere, the internet worked so I could answer some work e-mails and talk to my colleagues.

On the way to the next stop of the day, a palace that used to belong to a Danish Poet and Diplomat Thor Lange, something went wrong.

The GPS decided to take a “short cut” and we ended up on some roads that were just gravel roads running between the fields. The roads got worse little by little so a lot of time passed before I figured out that we had left the main road. I just thought the condition of the main road had gotten worse and when I noticed that, we were more or less in the middle between two main roads, which meant that it didn’t really matter if we continued or turned back. Because the road behind us was so bad, I thought to myself that what was ahead of us couldn’t be much worse so we continued. We drove about 25 km on the bad roads. Most of the time, I was driving in the 2nd gear at about 20 km/h. When we finally got back on the main road and I could go faster, I shifted into 4th gear. The car made a loud “clonk” sound and the 4th gear was no longer engaged. “Hmm”, I thought and tried again with the same end result. I stopped the car and climbed below it to see if my gear shifter repair-adjustment looked out of order and tried to adjust again. Little did it help and after I tried to adjust one more time, I had to tell the rest of the trip participants that the rest of the trip would be driven in 3rd gear (it is a 4-speed transmission). We decided to continue to the Danish poet’s house since it was only a minor detour compared to the direct route home (home was at this point about 160 km away).

This was the “main” road that the GPS led us to.

A very symbolic picture that could carry the title: “Defeated man leaves his car without the 4th gear, but he won’t give up” 😉

We didn’t regret going to the Thor Lange Palace. It was an old ruin, but very interesting to explore.

Maybe I am the second Danish guy to be here in the Palace (Thor Lange was the first…)

We had a little chat with some of the locals, one of them was driving this beauty:

If you (also) have no idea about who this Thor Lange guy is, then there is a bit of information here


The trip to Vinnitsa, as well as a visit at a local museum with bunkers from the Second World War, where Hitler was supposed to have stayed, was cancelled. Instead we drove directly home. We drove in 3rd gear with max 60 km/h except when it was downhill. Here I would press the clutch and the car would just roll down the hill with “extreme” 😉 80 km/h. Despite the low speed I still had to overtake a newish looking truck that was just driving 40 km/h.

We arrived safe at home – the sunset welcomed us.