Sunday, June 8, 2014

Trip to Klevan

On June 7, 2014 I went to the Western part of Ukraine to see the famous Love tunnel - an old railroad about 7 kilometers away from the village of Klevan, surrounded by trees so that it looks like it's a tunnel magically made by nature.

Klevan is a small village 30-something kilometers from the city of Rivne, and is only about 10.000 people. The landmarks of Klevan include the ruins of Klevan Castle, whose construction began in 1475 and was eventually completed in 1561. The town also houses the Church of the Annunciation with a bell tower dating back to 1630, as well as the Church of the Nativity, which was built in 1777. There is also Klevan Railway station, which connects the town with the oblast's administrative center Rivne and Kivertsi, as well as a woodworking plant and food-processing facilities.

This tunnel is an industrial track for wooden work, employed three times a day. A tourist legend says that couples who ride together through the green tunnel and make a wish will get what they want.

A bus ride from Kyiv to Rivne is about 4 hours, so it's enough time to nap, listen to music, and sketch.

Bust sketch when getting to Rivne, Ukraine

Ride sketching appeared to be easier than I thought. Even though the lines are not perfectly straight, there's even a certain charm to kind of a sloppy sketch.

After Rivne we went to Klevan. And even though many people from around the world visit this tunnel, local villagers were still surprised to see strangers trudging through numerous holes in the road. There's no signs pointing to the tunnel, neither there's any fees to see it. This place is (thanks God!) not yet commercialized, and you won't see annoying vendors trying to stuff you with souvenirs. What's even better is that there's no people. Tourists do come to this place but not in swarms.

Natural tunnel in Klevan, Ukraine

The part about the tunnel that you can't grasp from photos or sketches is that this place is swarming with mosquitoes! They were really feasting on us. Man, was I happy to be back in the sun and admire the tunnel from a distance where tiny blood suckers wouldn't get me.

Love tunnel in Klevan, Ukraine

Roman-Catholic church of the Annunciation in the village was also quite impressive. Built in 17th century, the church needs renovation badly, and with only a dozen people attending its services, the money that they donate is far from enough. Therefore, the renovation is a very slow process here. A quick sketch below was what I could do in 10 minutes. I would have loved to make a more deliberate sketch of the church interior, but the church keeper said we could climb up to the roof of the church, and it sounded really cool! :-)

A quick 10 minute sketch inside the church

In general, the trip was really nice, and the places we've seen were beautiful gems hidden in the middle of nowhere. Here are some poppies that were all around during our trip. The flowers were such an eye candy that I couldn't stop taking pictures of them!

Happy poppies
More happy poppies

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