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Charm in Chernivtsi

Updated: Mar 1, 2021

14 Feb. Hustling my way through the rush I arrive in the city of Chernivtsi during crazy hour. Cobbled squares and avenues that have seen better days jolt me along toward

the finish line. Gerolv Majdanu, being the only street on my route sympathetic to cars, naturally it attracts the local street racing fraternity whose attention is now drawn toward the British guy in the blue M convertible, provoking me into a race across the final hurdle which I politely refrain!

A city of culture, coffee houses and gilded churches reflecting the myriad souls fighting to build lives for their families. A bohemian city with a jaded air of grandeur but it’s elegant avenues and opera houses promise better times ahead.

Relieved that this stage of the journey is over, I climb out of the car only to hear a heavily accented English voice, “Your British plates will be gone come the morning if you leave the motor here ...and very likely so will the car!”

I'm here with friends and it’s a savvy friend of a friend who offers the solution, pointing out one tiny snag! Chernivtsi nestles amongst the foot hills and valleys of the Carpathian region close to the countries southern border with Romania. The old town sits on an ancient site overlooking the city suburbs. Many traditional dwellings occupy higher elevations reachable along streets with steep gradients. Of course, the solution requires my driving up a severe incline, hard packed with snow!

On the third attempt, having first built up some serious momentum, I succeed in climbing half way before the rear wheels again succumb to the frictionless surface. With a stash of embers and old timber strategically placed underneath, several newly acquired mates pushing, the old workhorse creeps to the top. The temperature is a steady minus 17 but before we can chill, a ton of snow requires shovelling away from the iron gated entrance.

...Hard labour done and it’s time for thanks. According to local protocol and in acknowledgement of the generous spirits helping me tonight, I donate a generously spirited bottle of cognac in return. “Za Zdarovje!”

Next blog Bowled-Over in Bukovinia

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