Apologies for a prolonged absence but moving apartment and life in general seems to have taken precedence over writing about it. Anyway – I’m back and have decided to fan the blog flames and see what sparks. Just come back from Kharkov and kind of enjoyed the place. It is built on a monumental soviet scale (see statue above and note just how large it is !)- very wide roads and no real centre so it tends to sprawl. It has a history of chemicals and aeronautics but now has a growing student population – don’t know where they end up with their degrees but that is a typical ukrainian problem – bad wages, fantastic resources and no political direction. Aside from bar- room politics I took in the largest square in Europe which was packed with at least 20,000+ people to see a concert of the great and good – and all to celebrate the city’s liberation at the ned of the war. Ukraine Independence Day was the following day – so there will have been a few headaches.
Whilst in Kharkov (pronounce it Hike-off and see the smiles from the pro-Russkies who don’t like the soft Ukrainian Harkiv pronounciation) took a trip to the border to get my passport stamped. You need to leave the country every 3 months and my time had come. Fearful of being kept in Russia for some technicality I decided to skip the normal Checkpoint Charlie routine and just offer some financial recognition to the border guards for a stamp well-stamped. I do get myself into a pickle sometimes.
All was going well – 50 of Uncle Sams finest had been dropped and I’d been stamped out (ummm yes can’t seem to find the immigration card) and then stamped in (with new immigration card) until I had to cross back into Ukraine from the Russian side (without actually having gone there if you get my drift) but as I took my steps back through into Ukraine … clenched my fists and was about to burst into a small jig (a small horse-drawn carriage that is quicker than a Lada) I was called back – all the way back.
A slow dreading plod in 40 degrees heat across no man’s land – about 500 metres of nerves. Michael Caine I ain’t.
Sweating? Just the slight bead of perspiration on the brow (shirt was wringing wet).
Turns out the guard had given me their copy of my card by mistake. We swapped them over and I took the long walk back again. One day my visa will arrive – otherwise – I have to leave again and return before 3 months time.
Still, beats hanging under a lorry.
Next entry – it has to be the road back to Kiev… to follow shortly