Ukraine’s Highway Culture

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Today we were on what seemed like a super highway for Ukraine as we traveled from Odessa to Kiev.  Finally – some smooth tarmac – hallelujah!  However, as I sped down this highway constantly trying to go the ever changing, never-marked, speed limit I was stunned by the culture along the highway in Ukraine.

Imagine this highway as a regular interstate like the I-80 or I-5 in the US – big, wide, and busy with cars going top speeds.  In Ukraine anything goes along the side of the road on the shoulder.  I passed people hitchhiking, selling fruit out of buckets, sleeping along the side of the shoulder, rollerblading along the shoulder and of course biking in every direction along the shoulder was allowed!

Then there were the animals, ducks and chickens were frequently seen on the road just hanging out.  But when I looked up in the distance and saw a big animal  – I was shocked.  There was a cow walking down the middle of the highway!  Once I made this realization, I slammed on the brakes as the cow would clearly win against our Nissan in the game of chicken on the highway!
Thanks to Rick for grabbing his video camera quickly to capture this crazy cow moment!

Another surprise was the pedestrian crosswalks that were frequently crossing the highway.  Not on a bridge above the highway…but on the highway.  Not to mention the many places where Uturns on the highway were legal.

crosswalk

We stopped at a roadside stand to have some coffee and decided to play Ukrainian Roulette for breakfast by just pointing at a breaded rectangular shape and hoping for the best.  Luckily we made the right choice – it turned out to be an apple filled pastry…whew.  I doubt we’ll be that lucky all the time!

That’s the eternal problem traveling in the Ukraine – not being able to read the signs or menus.  As I sped by signs on the highway I wondered if they were important.  I had no idea what message they were trying to tell me – which was a bit concerning.

All in all, the highway culture kept me engaged and in awe during my 6 hour drive today…better than any can of Diet Coke ever could!

Sherry Ott
Sherry Ott is a refugee from corporate IT who is now a long term traveler, blogger, and photographer. She’s a co-founder of Briefcasetobackpack.com, a website offering career break travel inspiration and advice.

Additionally, she runs an around the world travel blog writing about her travel and expat adventures at Ottsworld.com.com.
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