With little to no chance of getting a breakfast at the hotel in Tartarbunary, I packed my stuff and was on the road early today. Yesterday had been slow and hard work in the afternoon heat, so I decided to get going early. My legs were stiff (I assume because of the previous 1,900km as much as the headwinds from yesterday) but with the end in sight I wasn’t going to let that stop me.
I threw the stuff on the bike and was drinking a cheap Nescafe in a cheap plastic cup on the edge of town 10 minutes later.
After leaving Hungary, the shops are all basically the same. The name and languages change but the format is consistent. They are small, dark rooms stuffed full of plastic-wrapped and brightly coloured products. There are always 2-3 fridges, one or two for beers and one for soft-drinks. There’s always bread, sometimes fruit and veg and usually a glass counter/fridge with salami, yogurt and dairy products.
I left this shop with a pretzel which was dry enough to absorb about 80% on the Danube and after two bites and two digestive biscuits I was off.
Tartarbunary seemed to be covered in fog but from the smell, I think it was actually smoke from local wild-fires. The same happened to Kyiv two days before and I know this because everyone was complaining about it on Facebook.
I climbed a hill out of the town and overtook a local peasant who was pushing his bike and a large bag of shopping towards the top. He smiled waived and shouted who questions at me which I didn’t really understand, so I smiled, waived and continued.
The road which veers off towards the sea really is a road to nowhere and it’s in characteristically bad condition. I’ve decided to call them Zombie roads. They are not dead, but they are not alive either. They have been abandoned and as I weaved my way through the maze of potholes, I had time to think about:
A: How to extend the EuroVelo to Odessa.
B: Organising cyvling trips in Ukraine
C: Work and various other things that I had been planning to think about all holiday but hadn’t
After about 30km on flat, quiet solitude I pullled onto a pretty and pretty basic village surrounded by wide grassy plains full of geece, horses, goats and the now-familiar collective of wild farm animals.
I purchased another Nescafe in plastic cup and decided against the dry bread which was the only ‘fresh’ item for sale.
Thankfully just then a brad delivery man arrived and I was straight back into the shop for a fresh loaf and some cheese :)
As I left the village, for the first time in the whole trip I let nerves get the better of me. I’ll put it down to tiredness, but I convinced myself that the three LADAs full of shifty looking guys that pulled up outside the shop were up to no good. Actually, I thought they might be looking for people to murder, so I pedaled a little faster than usual until the road branched off into an even more remote location.
I covered 80km in good time and was soon on the ‘motorway’ that leads towards the seafront and hopefully a hotel. Hot, thirsty and feeling accomplished I stopped to buy a watermelon from the side of the road. I love watermelon but because they’re expensive at home I’ve never bought one. Today my whole melon cost me 30 pence.
I strapped the big green ball ontop of my panniers and head for the finish line.
I arrived in Zatoka.