Day 193 & 194 | Kyiv

Day 193 | Friday September 23

From Rivne I wanted to reach Kyiv in one day, which is a 330km drive. Under ‘normal’ circumstances not possible but with Ukraine’s charging network definitely worth a try. After breakfast with Ben and Alexandr I left.

I decided to use as much chargers as possible. The first one was as 3-phase charger at a hotel in Novohrad- Volons’kyi. I knew that this was not a free one so I checked first with the reception what the possibilities were, no problem to charge here. I did that for 2.5 hours until it was full and continued to Zhytomyr, just outside of the city was an Okko fuel station. Most of these fuel stations have a charger installed which gives your EV coverage over the whole country.
A few kilometers before Kyiv was also an Okko station so I drove there and thought I would make it from there to my host.

What I forget sometimes is that in some countries a city can have street names which occur multiple times. So when my navigation told me I arrived, I was at an industrial place which didn’t seem right. At a gas station with WiFi I found out I was 30km away from my host. This pretty much sucked as I calculated how much I needed to charge to reach this point, and it was already close to midnight. Now I needed to find a charger nearby. First one was just closed (private parking) but the second one was working, although another car was charging. Funny detail it was occupied by an Citroen Saxo electric, an EV from the beginning of the 2000 era, I saw this car only 1 time before in Germany. The driver was a bit surprised by my car and with a translator on his phone I could explain most of his questions. The older generation in Ukraine doesn’t speak much English.

Around 1am I arrived at Serhii. A few weeks ago another Sergei contacted me on Facebook, he told me he just organized an EV event in Kyiv and was interested to meet me. Today he couldn’t receive me but found his friend ready to host me.

Day 194 | Saturday September 24

Time to meet my new hosts, it was really late last night and after some food we went straight to bed. Serhii is big EV-enthusiast and lives here just outside Kyiv with his wife Lusiena and his kid Ivan. We drove to Mezhyhirya, the mansion which belonged to Viktor Yanukovich, former president of the Ukraine. Now it’s quite to important to know about the revolution which happened in 2014, it’s a very dirty one. In this post I will focus on what I saw today so please read this wikipedia page about it, for some more context. There we met with Sergei, Alina and her kids. All members of the Electro Car Club.

Serhii called Mezhyhirya “Museum of Corruption”. For many years it had been the symbol of the corruption and bad policy in the country, especially under Yanukovich’ lead. When he was the president his mansion was closed for anyone so no-one exactly knew how big this place was and what happened here. Well it’s enormous, about 400 hectares and all artificial. What I saw were many ponds with fountains, a huge mansion, boxing ring, lots of statues and a golfcourse. And we only saw like 3% of it. Also check out this article with pictures of the place when Yanukovich just was kicked out, you will understand what a badguy he was. 

I was wondering why electric cars are so populair in Ukraine. Sergei explained me that Ukrainians would like to be completely in depended from Russia, of course they need to import gas from them so when everyone would drive electric that would not be necessary anymore.

Serhii took us than to an event somewhere in Kyiv. It was about the Ukrainian language and the organizers were very pleased to meet me and offered me some gifts (t-shirts). The presentation was fully in Ukrainian but you could notice that it was of importance. The Ukrainian language has been suppressed for many years and people want to promote te language, they are very proud of their language like all Ukrainians are proud of their country.

Than it was time for some relaxing. In Kyiv center we visited a Georgian festival. That includes Georgian foods, music and drinks. Very cosy and interesting experience. Kyiv so far is very interesting. 

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Day 190 – 192 | Lviv & around

Day 190 | Tuesday September 20

Today Liuda offered me a sightseeing tour through Lviv. Liuda found me on an Ukrainian Facebook page and voted for me to come to her country. The son of the first Ukrainian king Daniel of Galicia was called Lev and in honor to him he called the city ‘Lviv’, or ‘City of Lev’. The city is known for coffee, chocolate and caramel. They have some stores where you can see how they make the products. The caramel one was the most interesting as it was like a museum, they made many objects like houses and even running trains from this sweet good.

Liuda is young, only 22 and already married. She told me in Ukraine it’s common to marry at young age and it used to be even younger, between 16 and 18. We climbed to the top of a church, did a hike to a mountain with a beautiful overview on the city and she treated me with a big lunch. The first decent meal I had since Thursday and my body had a hard time to deal with it.

Day 191 | Wednesday September 21

Nazar, the one that arranged my accommodation came to visit me in the hotel. He is founder of To-U and the Ukrainian Tesla Club. With To-U they are installing the country’s biggest EV charging network, and the good thing: they are all free! They see charging as a service and make contracts with hotels, restaurant, fuel stations etc to install a station. The station is than owned by the hotel for example, they pay for the electricity and maintenance but To-U attracts customers to the stations. A full charge is very cheap in Ukraine so if the client drinks one cup of coffee at the hotel they already make profit. With their intelligent app you can even reserve the stations on your desired time, something I have never seen before.

Liuda had some contacts at a local radiostation and they were very interested in my story. We went there and I told them about my journey so far and my experience with the Polish/Ukrainian border. Which was very funny and interesting, it had something to do with a plastic doll, listen to it here.

Liuda’s husband Dmytro owned a clothing store in Lviv, Like by Look, A store were they only sell locally produced clothing. Dmytro told me that I could pick some new items and I received a complete new outfit! Looking fresh and sharp now.

After that it was time to move, my next stop was in Lutsk were Alexandr invited me. A young guy, 23 and works at the client desk of MacKeeper, if you have a mac you probably have seen one of their advertisements. We charged the car at his parents, than went to a friend, Alexandr had a night shift and his friends took me to the city. Ukrainian beers are definitely worth a try.

Day 192 | Thursday September 22

Alexandr came back from his nightshift, met me at his friend where I stayed for the night and gave me a short tour through Lutsk. We visited a castle from the year 1300 which is pretty iconic, it is even shown on the Ukrainian 100 bill.

My goal is to go to Kiev but that was out of reach. Alexandr had a friend in Rivne where I could stay, 70km from Lutsk and from there it was about 300km to Kiev, so I could make that tomorrow. Alexander joined me to Rivne as he didn’t see his friend for a long time.

On the way to Rivne we made a stop at the ‘Tunnel of Love’. Alexandr is very much into photography and showed me a picture of this tunnel. I had seen this before and didn’t know it was close by or in Ukraine at all, a gift I guess. The Love Tunnel is an deserted railroad in the forest and surrounded by green arches, where you can make the most beautiful pictures, even when you’re not a couple.

In the afternoon we got to Rivne where we met Ben. They treated me with a fish & chips menu at a restaurant. At his home we charged the car and Ben used an extension cord which seemed a bit old and thin. It made me worry a bit. I went for a check an hour later and when I opened the door I saw smoke, heard something crackle, it was hot and the room smelled odd. I instantly thought there was something on fire, ran up to the room to get all the people, ran down again to find out there was nothing wrong. The extension cord did get too hot and smelled burned but the crackle came from the central heating in the room. False alarm but everyone was wide awake now.

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