A lot happened after the day in Balta, and I spent the free time I had in the next few days writing down what had occurred, so I never wrote what happened afterwards. This is a reconstruction based on a few notes and fading memory.
At the end of the day in Balta, we drove back to the hotel in Kryve Ozero, and at dinner Alex and I discussed what to do next. I wanted to be back in Lviv at the end of Wednesday, since my flight from Lviv to Paris would start early the next morning. That gave us Tuesday and Wednesday to travel, see what we could see, and end up in Lviv.
We played with a few ideas. The first one as was to try to reconstruct the route Grandpa Bernie took in 1920 to emigrate out of Balta. In his autobiography, Grandpa Bernie said that he and his mother took a wagon to the town of Camenca, on the Ukrainian side of the Dneister River, they were smuggled across the river into Romania and made their way to the town of Vertejen, then went to the city of Kishinev to get visas and train tickets to Antwerp. Here's a google map view of the journey: Balta-Camenca-Vertejen-Kishinev
You can read about their adventures in Grandpa Bernie's autobiography.
While it was possible to drive to Camenca, Vertejen, and Kishniev and go to Lviv in two days, there was a political issue that might cause issues. The eastern bank of the Dnister River was not exactly part of Ukraine; there was a breakaway republic called Transnistria which claimed the territory between and Ukraine. Since I was an American and Alex forgot his passport, we thought it might be a little risky to try that trip.
Next idea was to go to Chechel'nyk, where Grandpa Bernie had a cousin. This town was on the route to Vinnytsia, where we could spend the night.
Then on the next day we could pass by Stara Sinyava on the way back to Lviv.
The most direct route to Chechel'nyk from Balta had a very bad road, so instead we drove toward Kodymay and then turned East. The scenary often looked like the picture below, with fields as far as the eye could see:
The road was pretty bad, a lot of cobblestone. I was pretty happy when we finally saw the Chechel'nyk sign:
Alex said the main street was the Jewish shtetl. Everything had been rebuilt. We asked around for signs of Jewish life, eventually we found this ruin which may have been a synagogue:
There was not much to see in Chechel'nyk, so eventually we drove on towards Vinnysta, where we would spend the night.
On the way we stopped by Tulchyn, where we saw Potocki Palace:
We drove on to Vinnystsa and stayed again at our favorite hotel.
From Vinnystsa, we planned to go to Stara Sinyava, see if we could find the Jewish Graveyard, then go to on to Lviv.
As we approached Stara Sinyava, we passed this lovely bus stop:
We drove around various roads, asking people we passed where a jewish memorial or cemetery was. Eventually we drove a long dirt track, across a field of poppies:
We came to this memorial:
Unfortunately I did not get a close enough to get a clear picture of the memorial writing. Here are a couple of links to give more information about this memorial:
Alex said that there were no memorials created during Soviet times, partially because of latent anti-semitism, but also because the victims were not respected. There was a mentality that those who "lose" were not important.
We then went back to the main section of Stara Sinyava and started asking around for directions. We crosed a river, took many turns, and eventually found it on a hillside beyond a Christian graveyard.
There were a lot of tomb stones, some as recent as 1990. I took as many pictures of the older stones as I could. The older ones seemed be as early as about 1910.
It was very hot, and I got very tired scrambling through the overgrowth of brush and trees. We loaded back into the van, and headed back to L'viv, rocking out to 80's punk rock music of Chaya-Mundun.
Alex and Vasily drove me back to the Hotel Leopolis, where I would spend the night and catch an early morning flight to Paris, to reunite with Suzanne and Sophie. I thanked them for a great trip, and took this picture: