211022 travel blog update
An awesome year begins with our wedding nuptials, only to be followed by a brutal invasion of Tasha’s home country, Ukraine, shattering the lives of so many in a matter of moments and continuing…
Anyway the result of this disharmonious split in the world left us trying to organise a route out of Ukraine for T’s family and friends, as well as, adapt the business toward travellers going back and forth during the rebuilding of the country (sure to happen in the years ahead!).
Attitudes in France haven’t been helpful either. On returning to the chateau, the company’s work horse - that’s already survived numerous trips to and from Ukraine, was illicitly taken by a somewhat underhand cartel from the chateau car park …just moments after our arrival.
Difficult to express in words all that’s transpired over the past nine months, so here’s a shorter nine year recap!!
A sovereign country bravely defends its democracy against the brutal regime of an invading neighbour.
Inevitably, this has delayed our EVE project, but, it’s also strengthened our resolve to deliver creative eco travel to customers travelling between the U.K. and UKR in the future. Bespoke Itineraries that will meet the needs of the business traveller and their families as the country prepares its infrastructure for full integration with Europe.
All that aside, the seriousness in Ukraine has just been brought ever closer to home. I’m now urgently trying to organise a trip to rescue Tasha’s granddaughter, Lina, age 12. Today, she rang from Tash’s apartment in Chernivsti (relatively safe near the west border with Romania, but still subject to kamikaze drones), calmly stating that she is very hungry. Electricity is rationed and it’s becoming dangerous for her to be there.. Her dad is working during the day and brings in what he can in the evening. He is not allowed to leave the country but naturally would like his daughter to be safe with Tash (Lina’s dependable motherly figure). Lina is attending school lessons online but all alone in the apartment during the day.
By now, I would’ve begun the long drive to rescue her, had the car not been taken. Now I’m trying to organise a lease or buy an EV (lack of fuel in France) but that’s not proving straightforward.
A lawyer and the police are trying to expedite the return of the company vehicle …good news, but this will likely take weeks before there’s any real progress (apologies for the gripes, but one way or another I must try to find a way to kick this mission of mercy off). Anyone able to help in any way ...would be incredible!
Our eyes are open wide to both the challenges and opportunities ahead. Today, we have our key partners in place and are already on the look out for passionate people to join us on our journey. We’re particularly interested in hearing from drivers and hosts with English or Ukraine language skills in fact any supporters who can add value to the operation. Join us, as either, partners or employees, in a truly worthwhile and exciting project for both the U.K. and Ukraine.
We are grateful to the U.K government's support under Boris Johnson and we look forward to the government's continued interest ...whoever is at the helm!
Register your interest now by writing to email@example.com Travelintime Ltd mean to launch their first bespoke travel itinerary next year - 2023, so watch this space for news! www.travel-in-time.com
Brothers in Arms
2014. For me, the comfortable boundaries of the past have long gone. An opportunity of business in Eastern Europe emerges, and with a wing and a prayer, I begin an all encompassing adventure into Ukraine (a former soviet country that I know little of, other than Boris Sasternak’s, Dr Zhivago, and that Gorbachev, Leonard Nimoy and Stalin once lived here) …setting off a chain of events, not least, the courtship of a lady.
A rendezvous with Tasha Korbut begins this new chapter, behind the former ‘Iron Curtain’.
Welcome to Ukraine
My arrival is tarnished with the heart thumping news of a separatist uprising in the east of the country. Expectations of a normal business trip quickly fall to the wayside. 'I hope this is just a blip future historians can mull over and not a rewind of a dark regime from history’.
Lviv Airport. The instant our eyes meet, one lonesome heart fills with boyhood emotion. A gathering crowd at the border gate fails to slow me as I rush to close the gap separating us. In one infinite moment we're acquainted, the next, we’re jumping a bus that takes us into the lively heart of Lviv.
The remnants of a Soviet infrastructure disappear as we enter the old town that lives today in stark contrast with the city’s limits. Despite a history of invading forces and numerous battles across the region, the principality remains untarnished, an architectural gem, colourful, artistic and spiritual, the result of eight hundred years of an evolving culture.
The 1939 collusion between Stalin and Hitler concealed the city from the West’s eyes for fifty years. Twenty five years on, perhaps tinged by a romantic imagination, an atmosphere of intrigue remains, setting up our first encounter within this enchanting metropolis.
The following day, is marred with the grim news! Our taxi passes a series of tanks (relics of a previous occupation) when the free radio announces, ‘Fighting has broken out in Kiev!’
‘Are they here already?’ A foolish comment receives a vehement reply. ‘It BEGINS! They’ll have to kill us all before we stop fighting’. A shocking prospect, but the driver’s response rings as true as day turns to night, causing me to question why I’m here.
Tasha leans her body against mine, squeezing hold of my hand. Of course, the answer to my own question is the lovely woman next to me.
‘Ivano Frankovich is up next …Watch out for separatists!’ Igor, also watching out for potholes, circumnavigates the biggest, into the path of an HGV heading directly toward us. ‘…If that driver doesn’t get us first!’ ‘Well I hope he’s not Russian!’
T’s grip tightens.
Our spirits rise as we approach Chernivtsi, an oasis of culture, and university city, buzzing with young families, students, enterprising businesses and cool coffee houses.
2020 It’s six years since our first brief encounter. Living between Ukraine and France throughout this time, we survived a coach crash …dropping into a mountainside crevice, separatist aggression, border police bribes, wild dogs, extreme weather, overnight spent in a snowdrift, car theft, swarms of killer hornets, oh, and several car breakdowns during our transits across the Alps …and we’re still together.
2021 The ongoing war in the eastern border country escalates disturbingly from afar, with conscription continuing to reduce the male population at an alarming rate. Despite an interfering neighbour, progress in upgrading the country’s infrastructure continues unabated, somehow maintaining momentum with visible urgency.
Ukraine is winning hearts. I see a happy society, religiously tolerant and equipped with a young generation who’ve never been exposed to the rawness and suffering of war …but, all the while, more inconceivable news is breaking.
Having returned from a speed cycling competition in Lviv, the gossip in Chernivtsi brings us up to speed. ‘A full scale invasion by the Kremlin is imminent!’ Our reaction of course, is utter disbelief. With the date of our marriage set for 29 January in France, we suddenly find ourselves in a country preparing for war.
One way or another we escape the growing border chaos. in the ever resilient company motor. arriving in France just before the new year dawns.
With Tasha’s family still in Ukraine this blog remains an open book …to be continued.
24 February 2022. The invasion of Ukraine begins. An undisciplined military shatter the lives of happy families, and inflict terror into the hearts of the survivors. Children, lovingly nurtured by their families, in an instant are exposed to the darkness of a mindless brutal militia.
Ukraine is resilient and with a little help from friends I am hopeful they will keep their crown of independence. When the going gets tough, the tough get going’, no better an idiom to describe the Ukraine spirit. This is a determined and resourceful society that will never give up their fight for freedom.
With a hostile dictator as your neighbour, the provocation to fight is absolute. From the outset a champion Ukrainian is successfully promoting a common resolve amongst fellow Ukrainians and the free world at large.