Driving from UK to Ukraine and Back -A Report

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Posted by Rob on August 31, 2004 at 10:49:21:

Hi Its Rob and Tonya here.

Driving to Ukraine.

I used the michelin website route finder to give me the way to
Uzgorod. Which was where I needed to make for as my travelling
companion {Karl}(hello Karl i know you'll see this!) lives there with his wife and I was taking some
stuff for him - as my wife Tonya and the two boys had flown out a
month earlier to be with the family. The route finder gave us a route
that took in France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Czech Republic (via
Prague) and Slovakia. About 1300 miles.

My car is a Citroen Xantia (deseil) and I had the local mechanic
check it out for normal and obvious faults. obviously you need all
your documents, inc registration document (IMPORTANT)plus
international driving permit, I also took a green card, not that you
need it in Europe but just because it was more 'official paper' plus
the fire estinguisher, tow rope, spare bulbs, triangle, first aid kit
(not that I was asked to show them}

WE took the ferry at dover with empty tank looking to fill up in
France. The first petrol station is about 40kms from the ferry port
this was our first worry. We got off the ferry at 10:30 and clicked
the milometer to 0000. This worked really well with the mileposts
listed on the Michelin route, we were usually within a mile or so of
where they said we should be. We drove till about 3:30 until
somewhere in Germany we pulled over and slept. Next morning off at
about 6:30, good roads, good signage, no problems a bit tricky going
around Prague as there are a lot of road works going on. But the
michelin route guide worked well we also had a road atlas. Don't
foget you need to by Road Tax at the czech border (but no cops asked
to look) you also need to buy road tax at the Slovakian border. This
was the first time we were asked for documents. They wanted
passports, card documents and green card. But were polite and
friendly. They checked the chassis number against the registration
document. We drove onwards into slovakia good roads but not as fast
we stopped at about 10:30pm. Next day onward to Ukraine from about
6:00am getting to the border at Uzgorod at about midday.

At the Ukraine border. They wanted my car passport. I gave them my
registration document which seem to confuse them. But in the end they
accepted it. Again checked chassis number and wrote it in my passport
by the visa. Customs gave our (Karl's) boxes a cusory look.]

WE stayed in Uzgorod a couple of days with Karl and my wife met me
there having taken the overnight train from Vinnitsa our first
destination.

The two main problems with driving in Ukraine are 1. The roads and 2.
The cops. The best thing about driving in Ukraine is desiel at 20p a
litre - petrol 30p!

The road from Uzgorod to Ternopil was horrendous real 4x4 stuff but
there are a lot of roadworks going on so they should get better and
they are designated M roads. From Ternopil to Vinnista the roads are
fine.

There is a contant watch for cops. When you see oncoming traffic with
their lights on or flashing their lights this means cops ahead. Slow
down. Slow down in all built up areas. Top speeds on all main roads
is about 50 mph. about 20-30 kph in villages/towns. In towns and
villages expect cobbled roads. WATCH OUT FOR HUGE POTHoles . Expect
cops at big junctions, big roundabaouts, watch out for signs that say
ÄÀi the cops have little houses by the road, some p-laces you have to
stop or slow down. Saying that enroute to Vinnitsa only got stopped
once, cop looked at our passports, flrted with my wife and waved us
on.

It took a day from Uzgorod to Vinnitsa. Because of the bad roads.
When driving in Ukraine drive defensively. Watch out for very bad
driving and fast speeds.

Driving around Vinnitsa was fine, we parked the car every night in a
secure parking (lots around) for 2gre a night. No problems.

DRiving From Vinnitsa to Sevastopol Crimea.

We started at 5:30 pm and was in Sevastopol swimming in the Black Sea
at about 11:00 am It is about 800kms. I was following my brother in
law.

WE stayed in typical Ukrainian holiday lets which is a room with
beds, a kitchen and shower wc etc for 20 gre per person per night.
Bargain!!

The main thing about driving in UKraine is the lack of road signs. It
is very difficult to know where the roads are. You HAVE to stop and
ask. Even my brother in law who has driven to Crimea many times
stopped and asked. You can be on the main road with some signs and
then in a town or city and the signage stops and you have to ask.

My brother in law took the 'short cut' as they are building a
motoerway and the main roads are bad. But these roads were worse.
Through the back of beyond through villages on very bad dirt roads.
Got stopped once by cops who wanted to test my emmissions but I
played dumb and was waved on my way with no fine.

In Crimea drove into the mountains above Yalta roads good.

After 10 Days drove back to Vinnitsa, just us bil stayed in Crimea
for more holiday. We took the main route home not the short cut.
Again had to ask many times where the route was we did have Ukrainian
roadmaps as well) Got stopped for 'speeding' and fined/taxed 60gre
Usual problems with road.

Vinnitsa back to UK
This time we drove back via Poland. Again using the Michelin route
guide. Which worked very well. Vinnitsa to Polish Border via Lviv.

BIG PROBLEM at Ukrainian border. Again wanted passports and car
passport - registration document. But this time they wanted my wife's
husbands death certificate to allow the children out of the country.
We did not have it it was at home in UK we thought that the visa's
and marriage cert was enough. They kept us for over an hour, my wife
crying, lots of coming and going and explanations until they relented
and let us through.

UKRAINIAN BORDER: At Uzgorod we just drove to front of queue and were
seen straight away

At the Ukrainian/Polish border there was a huge queue of traffic
waiting to get through. I started to drive down it and was stopped by
loads of guys who wanted 50 euro to get me to the front I ignored
them and just drove to the front and bullied my way into the line. We
waited about 1 and a half hours to get to the control.

cursory customs check. But we lost about 3 hours driving time. You
need to allow for long waits

In Poland - Good signs. We Started in Vinnitsa at 5:30 am and drove
until about 11:30pm I didn't want to do this but I was the only
driver. Good roads. No problems no cops. Desil about 30p lots of
stations.

We saw lots of motels/hotels in the day but of course once you start
looking at about 9:00pm we didnt see any. About 500 miles that day.

Good hotel room 150 zloty for 4 with breakfast

Next day start about 9 ish to the German Border. Polish control
stopped us for about 15 mins while they checked passports etc. Again
cursory customs check.

German roads ok loads of roadworks drove till about 9:00 another
motel 120 euro for two rooms no breakfast

On German autobahns there are huge distances between petrol service
stations watch your fuel guage.

Next day good travelling to Calais via Holland, Belgium. No problems
at UK passport control. Back to Hatherleigh in Devon a total of
around 1,800 miles. About 5,000 for whole holiday.

Main comment driving there and back was like driving through the most
boring bits of wiltshire, just road and fields. Ukraine was more
interesting.

Thank god for bank machines we drove all the way from Ukraine to
France before I found a bank to change dollars to euros!

Would I do it again. I think so its cheaper and more interesting than
the plane but is hugely time dependant. Yaroslav has become an expert
on the susauges of Europe!

If anyone wants to chat or ask more details mail me and I'll give you
my telephone number.

I enjoyed myself and at the end of the day the hassles were minimal

I also have the number of a cheap European Recovery which covers you
all the way through Poland but not Ukraine. Also there is no car
insurance requirement in Ukraine. So drive carefully. Watch out for
cows and duck and other livestock on the highway as you will have to
pay if you kill em.

Any questions please ask

Best wishes
Rob and Tonya



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