It is difficult to write about the country you have lived most of your life. Over the years things around you become ordinary and you stop noticing their being unique and original. Now I will try to remind myself and at the same time will try to show you why I love Ukraine.
I love Ukraine for the Carpathians and their marvelous views, the mountains of the Black Sea, the quite and peaceful life of Odessa, Lviv and its magnificent architecture, Ukrainian festivals and other cultural events.
These are not the Alps. These are our beautiful Carpathians :)
And this is the heart of Ukraine - Lviv
Ukrainians is one of the most hospitable and warm-hearted nations in the world. Ukrainians say "our people" when they talk about themselves. And people here will speak English to you even if they know only a few words.
I love Ukraine for its springtime. Blossoming trees and smiling people will warm your soul if you are lucky enough to be in Kyiv in May. And if you think spring is beautiful here just wait until fall.
You can say that every car in Kyiv is a potential taxi. Just hold your hand out and very soon someone will stop to give you a lift.
Marshrutkas. It's the thing of the post soviet union countries. It is a little yellow bus which brings you and stops wherever you want and it is super cheap. You will be really surprised as you pay for your Marshrutka by passing your money to the person in front of you. They will pass it on and you can watch as your money moves towards the driver. And don't worry as your change works its way back to you.
Trains in Ukraine is a very interesting topic to discuss. Trains here are always an adventure. Often smelly but filled with some of the best characters and some nice people. Your fellow train passengers will feed you, talk to you and look after you.
I love Ukraine for its seasonal eating. At any Bazaar or Rynok you will find best deals on fresh vegetables and fruits, berries, meat and farm dairy products. You can also see here babushkas sitting and selling their milk and fresh produce, usually a bit overpriced, but it's worth it.
Everyone loves the Podil district. This is the heart of the old-town in Kyiv. It's beautiful, diverse and charming.
Video of my lovely Kyiv and partially of Podil:
I would also like to tell you about the festivals I love. If you come to Ukraine you definitely need to visit at least one of them.
THREE DAYS IN THE GARDEN
When: May, 16-18
Where: Central Botanical Garden, Kyiv
The festival is dedicated to the green way of life in a big city. The event takes place in the beautiful colorful garden. Different zones will be featured here. There will be a design market where you will find eco-bags, notebooks made from recycled paper, eco-friendly lamps and different things made from wood and clay. There will be a food market too, where you can buy natural yoghurts, Carpathian cheeses, berries, herbs and herbal teas. You can try grilled vegetables, eco-pasta and fresh salads.
Also here you will find yard sale, bookcrossing and at night everyone will be watching movies and dancing swing.
When: to be announced
It is one of the most colorful festivals. All cyclists wearing retro suits bike along the streets of Kyiv. All participants of Retro Cruise are carefully dressed in the English style of the early XX century: elegant tweed suits, padded socks or golfs, vintage dresses, leather gloves, stylish shoes with laces, ties and bow ties, hats and caps.
When: June, 3-6
Where: Rzhyshchiv, 70 km from Kyiv
The territory of the festival is 17 acres of music, creativity, art and beauty. Here you will find numerous workshops, movies, quests, seminars and various ethnic shows.
The motto of this year’s event is “Clean water is pure life”. It fully reveals the main ideas of the festival: ecology, healthy lifestyle and hard work in order to achieve the purity of space, purity of thoughts and goodwill intentions.
STREET FOOD FESTIVAL
When: April, 26-27 and June, 6-8
The festival has already been held for a few times in Kyiv and gained unbelievable popularity among its people. The mission of the festival is to change people’s attitude towards street food and to show that it can also be yummy and delicious. Everyone can participate in the festival and open their one-day-restaurant. Festival guests have a good reason to eat: in one place you can taste different street food from almost every corner of Europe.
When: to be announced
GogolFest is a multidisciplinary international festival of contemporary art. The festival program mainly presents theater, music, movies, literature, visual art and thematic workshops. Last year the festival took place at an abandoned experimental factory. The program of the festival included classical music, short films from the Molodist International Film Festival and movies from the Documentary Film Festival Docudays. The festival was also visited by the famous director Krzysztof Zanussi. The musical part is usually very diverse. Last year it was Karbido and Dakha Brakha.
GogolFest 2013 / Dakha Brakha and Karbido Concert:
LVIV CHEESE AND WINE FESTIVAL
When: October, 24-26
It is the main fall gastronomic festival in Ukraine and a good opportunity to learn about the culture and traditions of both cheese and wine making in Lviv, to visit fairs, concerts, contests, music bands concerts and certainly to taste good cheese and good wine. Brie, Camembert, chablis, burgundy, blue cheese, cheese fondue and risotto with parmesan, traditional Ukrainian dishes - all these you can try and buy at the fifth festival of cheese and wine in Lviv.
KOKTEBEL JAZZ FESTIVAL
When: September, 12-15
Where: to be announced
The Koktebel Jazz Festival is a well-known jazz and world music festival in Ukraine. It takes place annually during the second week of September in Koktebel on the Black Sea coast.
Visitors and participants value the festival for its unofficial and democratic spirit, induced by the place itself, and the inspiring combination of the jazz and the sea. The remarkable nature of the Kara Dag volcanic mountain range located near Koktebel and a great variety of wines and brandies produced in the vineyards nearby complete the picture.
However, in 2014 the festival in Koktebel is under the question due to the Russian occupation of the Crimea. Currently the festival organizers are thinking about a new place for it. They say that the festival will probably move to Kyiv.
There are so many things to do while you are in Ukraine. It is impossible to write everything I want to tell you about in just one post. I will definitely write more about different cities, places and events happening in my beautiful homeland.
If you're planning to visit Kyiv or Ukraine in particular (and I hope you are, after reading my post) I'll be happy to make an individual route for you or just show you around.