Being only 60km from the Russian border, we hoped to knock out near 30km today, another 30km the next and stop to camp just beforehand, so we could be up early for whatever horrors awaited us. We took a back route to the main road to avoid having to drag our carts back through the town, and were treated to a couple of nice views on top of some large hills.
Back on the main road we quickly made it to Antratsyt, which looked like a really nice little city, with good hotels, restaurants and shops. A little disheartened we couldn’t stop, we continued through wanting to make distance before dark.
A little way out of the city a few kids caught up with Arjun, one spoke perfect English and asked if he knew Jeremy Clarkson. Further up the road a car had pulled over, and a guy with a high-end camera had got out and started taking photos as Kieran approached. A little chat later and he was keen to take quite a few photos, even snapping away whilst a 4×4 pulled up with a man getting out to chat and offer his house for the night, which we declined. They both drove off, the photographer stopping a few times along the road to take more photos, and as the sun set we got off the road a short way and set up camp.
Once the tent was up and Kieran was most way ready for bed, a car drove past, stopped, reversed back to us and pulled up. The man from the 4×4 before got out and came over to chat; introducing, Vova (hey!).
He very kindly again offered his house and some food, and refused to take no for an answer, so after checking if his car could fit all our gear, we quickly rolled up camp, packed up and squeezed into his car. Unexpectedly he took us to a really nice restaurant where we had steak and vodka and chatted about what we were doing. Even more unexpectedly, Vova then took us to a sauna house, where he introduced us to a traditional Russian cleansing (see video). Bewildered by the experience and Vovas hospitality, afterwards we went to his home where he washed our clothes and provided cognac, and we spent the night over drinks talking. As if the night hadn’t been strange enough, Vova turned out to be a DJ and a Formation Skydiving Instructor (over 700 jumps), who runs a restaurant in the woods in the summer! A very cool guy who was also kind enough to serve us borsch the next morning before dropping us and our stuff back off where he’d picked us up the afternoon previous.
A really great last farewell from Ukraine, thanks again Vova!