We mentioned to Florin (our tour guide in Maramureş) that we wanted to visit Ukraine, so he dropped us off at the Ukranian/Romanian border and said to call him when we wanted him to pick us back up…and we went to Ukraine! Madeline didn’t bring her passport, so she went to Sighet, but the rest of us went!
Yes, we realize that there is a lot of craziness going on there right now (we were there the day after the President was impeached). Florin was making sure we’d be okay, and all 3 of them were like “Chloe knows self defense!” So, I felt the need to inform them that it’s called SELF defense, not GROUP defense. They accepted that, and we went on our way.
We got our passport stamped when we left Romania, and then we walked across a bridge over the dividing river…
…and were in Ukraine! Then we went to border patrol on the Ukrainian side…when the lady took my passport, she turned to the guy next to her and said “United States of America…” and they both laughed. Carley went next and they asked her what we were going to do, so she told them the truth – we just want to go walk around! So, we were all through! We’re not sure that they’ve EVER had 4 American girls walking across the border before…
This is the name of the village we were in!
Hannah knows Russian due to her mission in Russia, so we used her. She was a shining star! There was a little shop, and I had to go to the bathroom, so Hannah and I headed inside while Alana and Carley waited outside. On the way in, we heard what sounded like a gunshot…we stopped, wondered if the other two were okay, decided they were, and headed inside. She asked if there was a bathroom there and I got to use it for free, which was unexpected. Then we just went and walked! Turns out the gunshot could have just been just an explosion. There was a pile of trash nearby that a kid had lit on fire, and as soon as the sound happened, the kid ran inside like he was scared…so it could’ve been something popping from his fire, for all we know.
We were walking through a very….interesting…old….town…village. There were piles of garbage everywhere…like the one that was on fire. Oh, and when we were passing a different shop, we saw 2 kids playing, and one had a gun that looked totally real. Luckily, it was a toy, but it made real noises when he cocked it and he was holding it sideways and pretending to shoot stuff, including his friend. That was slightly sketchy. We kept walking, took pictures, and found a statue!
These are some ladies that were in the park by the statue.
A Jewish church.
The nicest building we saw the whole time we were there.
After exploring a bit, we stopped in a shop. Hannah (she does all the talking in Russian and they all understand her) asked if they accept cards, and she said no…and we didn’t have any of the Ukrainian currency. So, we stopped in a different shop, and Hannah asked if they take cards or lei. He said he accepts lei…so we looked around! This is the shop….really, it’s a “shop”.
Hannah found some cookies she LOVES (from when she was on her mission in Russia) and bought 10 packages. I found a 7-Up in Ukrainian for my friend Judy who collects 7-up from different countries, and we also bought Snickers Super bars (and we also got one for Madeline, of course). When the man was adding up the total in lei, he had a hard time counting in Romanian for us. On the way out, he was chatting with Hannah. When we left, we asked her what they were talking about. She said he asked if we were from America, and she said yes. He asked how she knows Russian, and she said she lived in Moscow for a year and a half. He asked what other language she knows. She said just English, Russian, some Romanian, and sorry, but no Ukrainian. He said to not worry about learning Ukrainian, there is no need for it. We found that interesting, because that’s the same thing that a lot of Romanians say about learning Romanian!
After that, we left. We were in Ukraine for probably about 30-45 minutes. And it was SO worth it!
On the way out, the border patrol on the Ukrainian side were talking to Hannah in Russian. He said he couldn’t believe we were from America because we are not fat! Uhm…thanks?
The border patrol on the Romania side on the way back….the lady asked us if we had cigarettes or alcohol, and we said no. She looked at us, then went and got a big guy. He asked us if we had cigarettes. We said no. He asked why. We said it’s because we don’t smoke. He looked confused, but let us go. Like champs.
You see, cigarettes are a lot cheaper in Ukraine, so people go there to buy them. We learned that from our tour guide.
It was really nice to get back into Romania. It felt like coming home after a crazy, dangerous adventure. It was incredible to see how nice Romania looked after being in this tiny village in Ukraine.
Also, I’ve officially been to 9 countries. It will be 10 in April when I go to Ireland! I’m really glad we got to walk to Ukraine, and that we were safe.