Friday, 30 September 2011


If you want to discover the hidden world Hutsulshchyna in pictures just scroll down, otherwise please read on.

I've not written a great deal but the story is worth a quick read .The last section is only accessible via older post or via the navigation.
If you have any Hutsulshchyna experiences you wish to share, drop me a line and we can add your experiences to this account.
After many years of travelling around Eastern Europe with my family, much of it on horseback, I thought it was now time to hang up the jodhpurs and chaps and muck in with other travelers. My wife Melissa was pining for creature comforts by the sea but this time her ambitions of languid afternoons by the pool, drinking fine wines accompanied by the odd gastronomic adventure were to be put on hold for yet another year.

It all started when Melissa gave me William Blacker’s book 'Along the Enchanted Way' for Christmas. He talked eloquently about his experiences nearly 20 years ago in northern Romania, living in the small rural community of Breb in Maramures and marrying a gypsy in a village further south. Blacker's Maramures depicted an extraordinary world held in aspic, where traditional dress was worn everyday and rural life hadn’t changed for hundreds of years. As a family we had travelled close to this magical region in the summer of 2004 and had an idea of what his experiences might have been 15 years earlier and had always vowed to return.

Blacker’s account of Maramures got me thinking about what is now southern Ukraine but before the war was Romania and Maramures country. I worked hard to find accounts of the region, which I soon learned is called Hutsulshchyna, cradled in the western Carpathian Mountains. In a short space of time I was determined to discover more about this mountainous area where I believed Melissa and I might be able to touch a world hidden from tourism and the preying eyes of the west.

I started to hatch a new plan and fly to Kiev and travel south by overnight train to Ivano-Frankivsk where I thought Melissa and I could travel south by road to the heart of traditional Hutsulshchyna in the small town of Verkhovyna. From here I presumed we would find horses to ride south through the mountains towards the Romanian border and with luck discover somewhere special, untouched by mass tourism.

Amazingly Melissa agreed to put any idea of a comfortable holiday on hold, pack her waterproofs and jodhpurs and pick up reins just one more time. After four months of searching and negotiating on the web I found an interpreter Andriy who agreed to accompany Melissa and I on our adventures and find horses, horsemen and accommodation. All very simple so long everything went to plan.

This account illustrates our little adventure in Hutsulshchyna and stands testament that adventures are still to be had and the world has all manner of secrets still to be discovered.

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