Ukraine is a large country
In 2016 I visited Lviv in the west.
In 2017 I went to Kyiv in the centre and then south to Odesa.
This year it’s the turn of the east; Kharkiv and Poltava.
It was a hard decision.
I wanted to return to lovely Lviv and then take the bus to Zalishchyky and gaze down at the town from the top of the Dniester canyon.
I wanted to traverse the Carpathian mountains, from the Polish border to far Bessarabia.
I wanted to tour the south, from Odesa to Mauripol via Huliaipole, where I’d drink a toast, and pay my respects, to the memory of Nestor Makhno.
The road to the east (Дорога на схід)
But it were the partisans of the east who lobbied the hardest. Having a friend in Kharkiv was the clincher.
Kharkiv, a big city, the second city, not really on the tourist trail. Home of my favourite young Ukrainian writer, Serhiy Zhadan. I can imagine Kharkiv as a punk rock city (note: I have no evidence for this as such). They like a drink and a good book out there in the cold, cold east, my kinda place.
But I also wanted a few days elsewhere and that’s when Poltava presented herself.
Almost equidistant from Kyiv and Kharkiv, Poltava is a city of which I knew nothing. A few hours research delivered some enticing findings. A restaurant called ‘Crazy Bacon’, a major battle that changed the face of Europe for ever, the many connections to Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol, a river (the Vorskla), a football club (also Vorskla) and a balcony from which Adolf Hitler once made a speech.
What else do you want?
Yes, the east, the road to the east, it’s time for the east!