Updated: Sep 22, 2021
The Bukavina Region
CHERNIVTSI — Tucked away in the southwest corner of Ukraine, Chernivtsi is a cheerful city graciously marrying the glories and sorrows of times gone by with vibrant Eastern European life today.
It’s at the heart of a cultural and historical region known as Bukovina. Fiercely proud, Bukovina spans the border between Romania and Ukraine, straddling the Carpathian Mountains.
Huns, Ottomans, Sultans and Austro-Hungarian emperors have all influenced the region over centuries past.
During World War II, extermination of a flourishing Jewish population afflicted pain and suffering to a peaceful population.
Today, this border is giving me grief, with the guards preventing an easy passage in.
‘You can’t enter with your British passport’
‘I understood it was no return in 3 months not 6, besides I’m bringing U.K business to Ukraine. isn’t that exempt from such a restriction?’
‘You must go back’
I show them my French residency.
‘Ok, I want see your car documents!
...and the car's documents.
'...Nyet, you cannot enter Ukraine unless you give money. We send you back’.
‘Am I hearing you correctly?’.
I look in my wallet. All I have is one crisp ten pound note which I pass to the young girl in authority.
Tactics exhausted she says …
‘Go! ...Sell your car here’.
‘Nyet! That’s not an option besides, it’s a company car’
Twenty minutes later, I’m in the city, it’s high Summer and there’s music everywhere!
People swinging and swaying, vinyl records playing and even babes are on their feet.
Families with youngsters all dancing in the street.
They’re jiving at JoJos downtown and even the politsya parlez the beat.
European integration amongst the business fraternity continues unabated.
Strings of independant retailers ...boutiques selling the latest fashion, coffee houses selling coffee and watered down variants, all vying for business. Surviving, is the name of the game. Right now, out in front by more than a whisker is the building trade. The construction of ten storey apartment blocks in full swing, seemingly defying available land space, as they’re squeezed into the city’s fabric.
A slow road to clean air.
Many roads remain unbearable to western vehicle suspension with just a few of the city arteries delivering a smooth ride. Alongside the busiest routes, cyclists and pedestrians are exposed to the offensive smell of diesel, a pesky reminder that despite a marked increase in high value petrol vehicles, and, surprisingly in the number of Tesla’s here, a fresh atmosphere remains confined to the city’s ‘mower absent’ parks. Lawn mowers, no doubt, being the next import!
…But don’t let any of that put you off visiting this remarkable city of culture and history ...part of a future grand tour itinerary when our lovely local hostess will guide you through the diverse moods of a very cool location.
On the Map
V.I.P E.T.A (Event Travel Adventure) into The Carpathian region is on the horizon. Become one of the first UK travellers to visit Chernivsti in 2022, where a culture pot of influences from Austria, Bohemia, Russia and Turkey blend together..
Today, underground parking and overground landscaping is integral to all new building projects and combined with the refining of a classic trolley bus network and ongoing road construction, a viable city infrastructure is emerging.
A Midsummer Mortality
Once a year in early September it’s the time of the mushroom forage, important ingredients that will maintain the Ukraine Kitchen over the forthcoming year. An ancient tradition that remains firmly part of the culture of today. Knowledge of where to find these delicacies, and which ones to avoid are passed from generation to generation. All I can tell you is that the mums ...Babooshkas and enthusiasts, disappear at daybreak into the forests surrounding the city, returning before dusk, laden with eatable fungi.
A mountain girl's day out becomes a midsummer tragedy.
‘Come with me’. In hindsight, I most certainly wish I had, but with a business appointment preventing my accompanying Natasha, I’m in bed when the bus arrives at 4.30 am to pick up the early birds from the city!
With their wicker baskets full to the brim, ten cheery womenfolk return to an open sided lodge for a well deserved picnic lunch, ahead of their return home. A happy day abruptly turns on its head when a swarm of killer hornets, seemingly from nowhere, attack the party of girls as they relax in the warm sunshine.
Suffering from a mass of stings to the head and arms herself, Natasha comforts a friend reacting to their deadly venom with a hysteria, culminating in catastrophic heart failure. As a sports coach and qualified medic, Natasha gives her friend CPR in an intense effort to bring her back, but to no avail. The lady passes away in Natasha’s arms.
An ambulance arrives 20 minutes later, a record here, despite which the medics could do nothing else to save the woman.
A polished Lakeside resort with so much space that a town the size of Romford would easily fit inside. Busy, yet far from a madding crowd. Hundreds of alfresco dining booths …eating lodges, surround a large freshwater lake, each with a bbq on the go. Music, boating, volleyball and eating are just a few of the activities here. The facilities are excellent and parking next to your patch is free.
Three restaurant venues and a hotel share the location that’s surrounded by dense forest. Host to many a wedding, the complex is 30 minutes from the city centre. Right now a music concert and several private functions are all tolerating each other at the same time …and not so much as a hiccup in the enjoyment of all comers. By no means the crowds of Glastonbury, more the atmosphere of a British lakeside picnic in the park ...except this is Ukraine!
…There are no speed restrictions on the lake, and jet skis freely max out the throttle, powering their way past tranquil families rowing boats.
Gym, Jam and VAT
The city parks provide an opportunity for free exercise on the extensive gym equipment, a temptation to anyone looking to keep trim in the fresh air …rain or shine.
February 21. Overflowing bins with flies, rats and other creatures of unknown origin occupied what was a smelly and somewhat dodgy location.
August 21. Today, rubbish collection has come along way since my visit 7 months ago, with computerised monitoring of a series of technology driven waste vats emptied automatically when a signal triggers a synchronised collection.
Yesterday all the trash was on display
Now its gone and here to stay
...is a clean place to throw away!