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Kiev-Odessa Highway


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Alternate Routes · Europe · ukraine · Ukraine · Roberts Gobziņš

Kiev-Odessa Highway

Author: Roberts Gobziņš1 COMMENT

Kiev-Odessa Highway

Oftentimes we take fast motorways to get ourselves from point A to point B, without even knowing what lies in between. A paradoxical thing is that the most exciting spots may wait for us where we least expect them to be. At about the middle of its route, Kiev-Odessa highway winds through a beautiful 17th century town Uman (Умань), founded by Kazakhs back in that time. Several roads are branching off the highway in this section, and each one has its own story to tell. Natural and unpretentious life that seems stuck in another century unfolds in a small village on the banks of the Umanka River, just 10 km from the modern highway. A couple of oldies sit by their modest wooden hut and you may strike up an interesting chat with them. For example, asked if they can catch lots of fish in the nearby river, they answer: "Fish? There has always been plenty of fish...but we watch airplanes. We saw one crashing down from the sky once! Later we saw that on TV." Aside from sincere and somewhat eccentric communication with locals, you will discover some other worth attention attractions of this place, like underground stalactite caves, filled with echoes of dripping water.

Professor Mikhail Poplavsky (Миха́йло Миха́йлович Попла́вський), the most famous and award-winning Ukrainian artist and singer as well as a political figure, has not only given his input into building of this highway but has assumed a role of a restauranter, too. He has taken good care that weary and bored drivers could enjoy gastronomically diverse and stylistically contrasting "pit stops" along the monotonous high-speed motorway.

The first to be mentioned is a Soviet proletarian style eatery "CCCP" («СССР» - 235 km, Kiev-Odessa highway) featuring all the distinctive symbols and accessories of that time, like a reaping hook and hammer, busts and portraits of politburo members and waiters adorned in red pioneer ties to go with their white shirts. You'll notice also carefully selected household items and appliances, for example, an old-time juice dispenser. Neither "dry law" nor "semi-dry law" is in force there and even a fastidious modern-day eater will find its fare very agreeable.

Foto: Kiev-Odessa HighwayFoto: Kiev-Odessa Highway

National cuisine restaurants "Батьківська хата", 3 of the same chain, are sited on both sides of the highway, yet only the one situated on 252 km of Kiev-Odessa highway offers black bread with pork lard completely for free! Mr. Poplavsky is eager to feed tired travelers who have emptied their pockets on their way through the country.

Poplavsky has opened a number of smaller roadside eateries, too. They serve traditional varenyky and chebureki, and there is always a pinch of humor added to the design of these places as well («Вареники» - 252 km, Kiev-Odessa highway).

Foto: Kiev-Odessa Highway

There is yet another place. It's called "Кропива" or nettle, if you put it in English (240 km, Kiev-Odessa highway). Its name alludes to the most renowned same name song in Poplavsky repertoire. The artist's mother has once been famous for her almost magic nettle tincture, which perhaps is the reason why the restaurant serves nettle borsch and nettle salad.

Previously, a signboard with a flying carpet and Hotabich could be spotted along this section of the highway. The restaurant itself surrounded its guests with a fairytale-like atmosphere as if telling adventures of some Oriental Genie in the Soviet Union. Currently, however, this place is closed.


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