Finally, we left Kiev and in this chapter, we speak of the sights of Podil in the west of Ukraine and about getting there.
On the 39th day of our road trip from Berlin to Georgia at 5 pm, we left Kiev and found ourselves on the road again. It was not a good time to set out, as everybody is leaving downtown in the late afternoon, it took us quite long to leave the city behind. However, it was easy to find a place for our campsite once we were out of Kiev suburbs. Unlike Bosnia, there are fewer houses in Ukraine and unlike Turkey, there is less agriculture. One just has to turn from the highway into one of the several back roads – and there is a good chance that you won´t be in anybody´s sight, hidden by the trees.
On the next day, we drove to Podil, the place I wanted to show Balti was the canyon of the Dnister River, Bakota Bay. In my memories from 15 years ago, it was a wildflower meadow overlooking the river and the cliffs, one of my favourite places in Ukraine. But 15 years later there was a parking lot and a lady selling pirogi in the exact same place. Not as bad as it might have been in Croatia though. While looking for a place for our nightly campsite we drove the ‘main’ road till its end (at the very end of the peninsula) and found some less busy camping sites we shared with just one group that was actually out of sight.
In the morning we went to Kamyanets Podilskiy. This atmospheric town has a fortress, some cobblestone streets, and beautiful old houses. Another reason to travel in Ukraine is the absence of the masses, it was not that crowded in Kamyanets, a town that was supposed to be a tourist attraction, on a day off. There were plenty of parking spots in the old town – once again unheard of in Croatia. And it is sooo cheap. For instance, a coffee and a cake cost us 3 Euro.
Then there is the Khotyn fortress within a short drive. We didn’t go there this time, but if you are not short on time – it is a lovely place, not too busy, the banks of the Dnister River by the fortress are a great place to pitch a tent and chill a couple of days. If you are not in a hurry, do go to Podil, all three places together – Bakota, Kamyanets Podilsky and Khotyn – make a good package. However, keep in mind that driving takes much longer than google maps predicts.