I’ve not been good at keeping diaries on shorter trips. My last multi-stop tour back in summer 2017 – spanning exotic Luxembourg City along with Bruges and Amsterdam – went fully undocumented. I never even finished writing the final chapter of my ScandiBaltics diary in 2015, depriving my readers of the chance to learn about the time that I forgot whales were endangered until I was halfway through a whalemeat steak in Oslo. Individual trips to Reykjavik (amazing), Malta (eventful), Bratislava (surprisingly charming), and Monaco (challenging) never stood a chance.
Luckily, childhood friend and interrail partner Emily (aka ‘Ginge’) has always kept my diarising habits on the straight and narrow. She’s a disciplined diarist herself, but more importantly, she is an ardent fan of my witty and perceptive writings. Not that I’m a narcissist or anything, but I have an excessive interest in and admiration of myself (ah shit, that’s the literal dictionary definition of ‘narcissist’), and can only be induced to write through high praise, which Emily provides in spades.
And so we went on yet another Eurotrip in September 2018.
Starting in Romania (one of the few EU countries I had yet to visit), we spent 4 nights in Bucharest, followed by 3 nights in Chisinau, the capital of Europe’s poorest and least-visited country Moldova. Finally, 3 nights in Kiev were in store in Ukraine. Pre-emptive questions answered: no, it’s not ‘The Ukraine’ (the country requested it be known simply as ‘Ukraine’ in the early 90s); no, we didn’t die of radiation poisoning – spoiler alert!!; and no, we weren’t near Crimea or the war zone.
As good backpackers, we would have bussed it or trained it across the region… but as high-flying career women with jobs and limited amounts of annual leave, fuck that. It didn’t look possible to do Chisinau to Kiev in under 12 hours, whereas it was doable in an hour by plane. Bucharest to Chisinau was similarly time-efficient by plane. It’s fine; neither of us have cars, so we’re still more eco-friendly than most people that will judge us for this.
If you’re ready for tales about a lovable Moldovan taxi driver (unofficial name: Frank), a heated cocktail experience called ‘The Helmet’, and corn on the cobs stuffed in bus stops: watch this space. Because the diary entries will be coming soon.