I always wanted to visit Chernigov but was postponing it for later: when it will be nice weather, when it will be on the way, when I will have some more money and time… Who knows for how long I would think like this and never visit this city? But suddenly in the beginning of February this year I got to know that I have to get a new birth document. As I was born in Chernigov region and I couldn’t wait 2 months till I get the document by post, I decided to make a short trip there and to combine in with staying in Kiev for a week.
So firstly I came to Kiev and the next morning I planned to take a bus to Kozelets (where I should have got my doc). At 8 am I was near metro station Chernigovskaya coz I knew there is a bus stop somewhere there. But there were so many people and different buses everywhere! I thought I will get lost. And in that moment the driver of the closest bus opened the door and shouted: “Kozelets!”. I was for sure lucky :) In about 1,5-2 hours I was in a small town with only one big road and two old beautiful churches. And a snowy park.
I got my document very quickly, beside the time that I spent in the local bank department. It was the period when people get the receipts for the public utilities. So it seemed like ALL the grannies of the town came to this bank at the same time to pay (and to gossip between each other). I have never seen such a queue. And I really hope not to see anything like this again.
After finishing everything at the office I went to the bus station that was situated at the same road like everything else in this town. I was lucky again – the bus to Chernigov came in 5 minutes. In another 2 hours I arrived to Chernigov. From the first view the city seems to be not very beautiful, grey, destroyed, with a lot of Soviet style buildings. So I didn’t like it so much. Actually it is difficult to like something when you freeze and feel hungry. After having a lunch in some small pizzeria I had to go to the Administration of Justice of Chernigov region. In Ukrainian offices I got used to stand in the long queues and to come several times to deal only one thing. And I was very surprised that at this office I was only one and it took me 5 minutes to get a stamp on my doc. Maybe it’s because this office was the one of higher authority and not everyone survives the lower offices to get there :)
Finally it was the time for some social contacts. Before leaving Kharkiv I found a girl in CouchSurfing that found another girl that could host me for one day in Chernigov. So I called this second girl and went to her place. She and her husband are very very nice and hospitable people. I love couchsurfing. We had the second lunch together and went to make a sightseeing tour with the first girl :) It was already dark and much colder but they were really trying to show and to tell me something about Chernigov and I was trying to see and enjoy this! Even so I noticed that the old part of the city with it hills, cathedrals, parks, river and so on is very beautiful. We finished the evening in some lovely coffee house. When you travel somewhere during the cold season you always visit more cafes and bars than sights of the city.
The next morning we continued our city tour. We went to Boldina Gora (Boldina mountain) where are situated the Trinity monastery and the underground caves of St. Anthoniy. It is also good to visit caves in winter coz the temperature there is always the same and you feel warm there. We went to some more churches and finally to a café to drink hot tea! At the afternoon I took a bus back to Kiev.
To resume the journey I want to say that I would love to come again to Chernigov, it is definitely worth to see especially when it’s warm. The people I met there are great! And I admire their lifestyle – they make bicycle tours or go to swim in the morning before the work, every weekend they organize some activities outside the city or different thematic and intercultural meeting inviting foreign guests that travel in Ukraine. They go together to the festivals all over Ukraine and to hiking tours in the mountains. I have never seen before such a strong and active youth community. They invited me to join their activities in summer and I hope to do so.