Unusual buildings in Ukraine

Ukrainian architecture combines wide range of different styles- from baroque to postmodernism. There are many breathtaking buildings and structures, beautiful cathedrals, castles, churches, and theaters. But there are also some that awake our imagination and make us wonder. Here are just few unusual buildings in Ukraine. We have many more.

Kyiv, House with Chimaeras
Kyiv House with Chimaeras

Chernivtsi, Ship House
Chernovtsy Ship-House

Odessa, Wall-HouseOdessa Wall-House

Kyiv,  The House of Baron GildenbrandKyiv Baron Gildenbrand house

Lutsk, The House of Architect GolovanLutsk Architector's House 2

Kyiv, The House of the Weeping Widow
Kyiv Crying Widow house

Lviv, castle building on General Chuprinka Street
Lviv residential house-castle

Odessa, Forest Building
Forest-house in Chubaevka

Donetsk, hotel BonBonDonetsk Hotel Bon-Bon

Odessa, building with eclectic styleOdessa

Odessa, shapeless houseShapeless house in Odessa

Yalta, Druzhba SanatoriumYalta Druzhba sanatorium

Lviv, Crossword HouseLviv Crossword HouseAll the photos are taken from different online sources.

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Kyiv: Where the Wild Things Are

Kyiv: Where the Wild Things Are.

When I saw the photos of the park, I had to share this post by http://gallivance.net/ on my blog. This place is called Children’s Landscape Park. It is located at the corner of Peizazhnaya Alley and Desyatinnyi Ln in Kyiv. The park was created by a famous Ukrainian sculptor and designer K. Scretutsky; and its creation cost almost 1000000 Hryvnias. About 15% of which was collected by the people living in the neighborhood.

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Iconic Soviet “Babushka”

Iconic Image of a Ukrainian Babushka

In Russian “babushka” [ˈbabʊʂkə] is grandmother and old woman. Almost every foreigner who comes to Ukraine, Russia and other former soviet countries knows this word.  Babushka is nothing like any other elderly woman in the world.

And she is definitely not like American grandma. There are no tennis shoes, sweatpants, or tank tops. She usually doesn’t travel, doesn’t drive a car, and doesn’t even dream about cruising around the world.

Most people have a clear picture of babushka in their heads. She wears a headscarf folded as triangle and tied below the chin. Instead of sweatpants she wears a calf-long skirt, and instead of a t-shirt she wears a blouse and a button down sweater.

Babushka is an iconic Soviet figure. And not much has changed in at least a century. She is hard working and wise, and she is a great source of never ending energy. This video shows how strong and creative babushkas can be. These two old women probably bought pigs at the market at some other city  and now going home by train (with pigs).

If you happen to stop by and ask how she is doing, she will tell you about her not so easy life, World War II, and those Nazi-bastards. She will go on telling you how she was a young girl working at the collective farm (“kolkhoz” in Russian); and how she met her husband later on, and how he drank hard, and how she loved him anyway. And then he passed away few years ago. And now she misses him so much, because that’s all she knew… She feels alone in this unfair world. Her pension is so small that it is difficult to make a decent living on it. She had worked so hard for all those years, and now all she gets from the government is about $120/month. How can you even survive for 100 bucks a month?!

There is a whole story on her wrinkled face. She had a very difficult life, growing up in harsh conditions during the war, being a farmer for her whole life, and then loosing everything she had when the Soviet Union collapsed. Most collective farms stopped working, and she didn’t know what to do afterwards. She is alone now, her health is declining, and she doesn’t have much life besides some daily TV shows, some neighbors of her age that share the same pain, and strangers passing by outside. She probably has kids, but they don’t visit much, and even when they do, it is a short and often uneventful stay. So, what she has is only that bench next door, and other babushkas just like her that chat about the world and their neighbors too.

A lot of times people walk by, not even saying “hello”, irritated by gossips and babushkas’ “following looks”. And they forget that all that those old women have is each other, TV, and some little gossip.

I know one thing for sure: either it is an American or Ukrainian/Russian “babushka”, they all need special attention, care, and love. So, stop by, spend five minutes helping them, and you will add five happy minutes to their lives, by making them feel special and not forgotten.

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Quite interesting part of our history that many don’t know about!

My history notes: historical personalities

I was intrigued by title of 2004 year documentary “Who paid Lenin?” I thought why? for what? I found out things I never heard about.

Two main persons in documentary: Russian revolutionary Lenin and a man called Alexander Parvus (born as Israel Lazarevich Gelfand).


Lenin and Parvus (Wikipedia.com)

At Wikipedia`s article about Lenin, Parvus and facts shown in documentary aren`t mentioned. Here are some interesting facts from the documentary:

  • Alexander Parvus arrived in Berlin in February, 1915. He met with some high standing German officials and wrote memorandum, where he explained a plan how to stop Russia from participating in WWI with help of revolution. Parvus had already participated in Russia`s revolution in 1905 and knew a lot about Russia.
  • Germans liked his ideas, Parvus got millions of German money. Part of the money he kept for himself, of course, and after the war he became one of the…

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My Beautiful City of Oleksandriia in the Center of Ukraine

Kirovohrad Oblast in the Center of Ukraine

If you travel south of Kiev down to the center of Ukraine,  you will find yourself in Kirovohrad oblast (region), with the administrative center the city Kirovohrad. The oblast was created as a part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic on January 10, 1939. The size of this picturesque area is 24,600 km2 (9,498.11 sq mi), and the population (as of 2004-05-01) is 1.1 million.  There are about 246,000 people who chose to live in Kirovohrad.

My home town Oleksandriia serves as an administrative center of Oleksandriia district (raionin Ukrainian). It is the second largest city after Kirovohrad in the oblast.

Oleksandriia, Ukraine

Oleksandriia Emblem

The first settlement was established here in 1746, which was 266 years ago. It was a kozak settlement known as Usivka. Later in 1754, the Empress Elizabeth ordered the construction of the fortification on the banks of the river Ingul, used for defense of Southern Ukraine against the attacks of Turks and Crimean Tatars. That’s when the garrison of the fortress was established on the territory of the modern Oleksandriia, and was called Becheia. The Fortress of St. Elizabeth laid the foundation of the city Elisavetgrad – now Kirovohrad. In the end of 1700s Oleksandriia received its current name.

Oleksandriia Flag

My beautiful town is marked by its long history in many extraordinary ways. It is small and cozy, with only 96 900 people living here (in Ukraine, places like this are considered to be relatively small). There are several monuments, cultural establishments, 13 libraries, 2 museums, professional soccer stadium “Nika”, and many parks and lakes.

I am feeling the love these days for my pretty Oleksandriia, and I decided to share it with you. Enjoy! And come visit us soon!

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The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round All Through Ukraine

Another Beautiful Ukrainian Landscape

Traveling around Ukraine by bus sometimes feels to me like I’m back in the USSR. Bad roads are like hello from the soviet days. Frustrating but charming.

This time I am going by bus from Kirovograd to Alexandria, Ukraine.  When you are driving around Ukraine, especially in province areas, there is no possible way to drink water from a bottle without hurting your lips, or write something that you could easily read later, especially on a shaking, rattling bus. Of course there are all kinds of buses in Ukraine, and I tried many: the good, the bad, and the ugly. A lot of them are just means of transportation- comfort is optional. I’ve been traveling like this since 17 when I went to the university in Kirovograd. It feels like my body still remembers every bump and pothole.

Inside of an Old Bus.

It is 5:20 p.m. and we are all sitting on this old, worn out, dusty small bus, simply happy to be going to our final destination safely and on time. Right between Kirovograd and Alexandria there is a small town Znamenka where the buses stop for a break usually anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. The bus is entering the bus station and I know that there will be gypsies asking for money, and the same babushky (elderly ladies) will be selling pirozhky for about 5 UAH (61 cents) each. They come into the bus and say “pirozhky, pirozhky, goryachiye pirozhky” (stuffed buns, stuffed buns, hot stuffed buns), and repeat it about 10 times. There are stray dogs running around. Homeless looking for a way to get a few Hryvnias (Ukrainian currency) to buy another bottle of vodka. And it is just a part of the flavor that is hard to understand and fall in love with; it is something I grew up with. Not that I’m proud of it, but I simply accept it the way it is. It is part of me and I do not take it out of my being.

Ukrainian Countryside

I have mixed feelings about being in Ukraine now. On one hand I am enjoying my life here, and on the other hand it hurts being here. I love gorgeous landscapes, availability of fresh organic food, hospitality of the people, our long history and rich culture. I love my family and friends! But at the same time I can’t stand the fact that the government and its people conscientiously degrade our culture and the quality of life. I see drunks on every corner. Vodka brands are sponsoring many daily entertainment shows on TV. People sell horilka (samogon in Russian, moonshine in English) and cigarettes to teenagers. You can’t walk 2 meters and enjoy the fresh air without running into a smoker. Liquor and cigarettes are cheap and available on almost every street and corner. This kind of reality is very sad to me because I want to see my country healthy and prosperous! But it is the way life is here. Very controversial.

Would you like some watermelons?

So we are on the bus, and it is about fifty more minutes of travel time before we reach our final destination. In the States it would take about 20 minutes, but due to really bad roads it takes eternity to get to the places here.

I notice big watermelons on the right side of the road- 2,50 UAH per kilo; it’s like a quarter dollar for about 2 pounds. The vendor has about 20 big, beautiful melons right there on the grass; very cheap and convenient. No need to go to the market when it’s all there. We are so spoiled by the ease of grocery shopping. It is very common for Ukrainians to sell fruits and vegetables pretty much anywhere you want to.

I look around, and the area that we are passing by reminds me a little enchanted forest with beautiful trees on both sides. I always take time to notice the beauty of this place, and Ukrainian landscape in general. Fall makes it even more captivating. Yellow, green and burgundy leaves are covering trees and bushes, looking like a precisely crafted carpet. It is about 80ºF and the sun is gently kissing my face. What a beautiful time of the year!

I know that I am leaving soon to go back to the States. I love America. I love almost everything about it, but I know that I will miss Ukraine once I leave it. So now, I’m enjoying my ride on this old, dusty bus, jumping up and down every time we hit a road bump. And I’m feeling so happy to be able to experience Ukraine to the fullest, not limiting myself to comfy taxi rides, nice upscale places, and certain circles of people. I enjoy it all! I enjoy my lovely country, so complicated and so simple at the same time!

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Ukrainian Roads – Great or Not?

Ukrainian countryside road

I heard people say that if you learn how to drive in Ukraine, you can drive pretty much anywhere. They also say that Ukraine has bad roads and crazy drivers! So how bad are the Ukrainian roads?

Due to slowly developing economy or to some other unknown to me reasons, the roads in Ukraine have not gotten the proper care in quite a while, for about 30-40 years. Road potholes and patches cover many roads surfaces which makes them uneven and difficult to drive on. Of course Ukrainian government fixed some biggest travel routes, and now we have few good quality highways. But the rest of the Ukrainian roads need a lot of attention!

According to www.gallup.com survey conducted in 148 countries, the most dissatisfied with their local roads and highways were people from sub-Saharan Africa (36%) and the former Soviet Union (36%). Ukraine ranked 133rd place out of 148 countries surveyed. And it was at the bottom of the list among the former Soviet Union countries. Here is what the report said: “In the former Soviet Union, where slightly more than one-third of residents are satisfied with regional roads and highways, road travel is particularly risky. Poor road conditions, unsafe driving behaviors, and ineffective enforcement of laws and regulations are all cited as reasons for the high number of traffic accident-related deaths. Pedestrians are often at greatest risk.”

Old, worn out roads in Ukraine

The poll conducted by AUTO.ria.ua  showed that 63% of Ukrainian drivers considered the condition of the roads in their home towns really low. Only 8% of them thought that the quality of their city roads was relatively good. The most satisfied were drivers in Vinnytsia oblast. The worst roads, according to the drivers, were in Ternopil oblast, Cherkasy oblast, Ivano-Frankivsk oblast, and Chernivtsi oblast.

Today I ran into an interesting article about driving in Ukraine, and I want to share it with you “Ukraine Driving-Is It Really That Bad? ” It talks about driving and the conditions of the roads in Ukraine. There is a picture there with a car rear sticking out of a big road hole. When I saw it, it reminded me how my husband and I were in Odessa once, heading out of the city. Suddenly in the middle of the so called highway he exclaimed: “Galyna, what is that in front of us? Is that a tree growing in the middle of the road?!” “No, honey, people put that tree branch inside of a pothole to let other drivers know that there is a big a** hole that they can get stuck in. It is simply a peoples’ warning road sign.” People in Ukraine are very creative and adaptive. They use all kind of tools and methods to protect themselves from unexpected or actually well expected road troubles. The principle is: adapt, overcome and improvise.

Roads in Ukraine are truly disastrous in my opinion. But I hope that it is not going to take 85 years to repair all the roads in Ukraine, like some predict. And let’s hope that Ukrainian government will think about the safety of its people first!

Enjoy the ride and stay safe!

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Good info about upcoming elections!

Current Politics in Ukraine

Mykola Riabchuk

In three weeks’ time, on the last Sunday of October, Ukrainians will elect 450 members of the new parliament, half of them from the national party list, and half from territorial districts. Opinion polls reveal more or less equal support for both the pro-government forces (Party of Regions and Communists – 25 and 9 per cent respectively) and opposition (Yulia Tymoshenko’s Motherland and Vitaliy Klychko’s Udar – 15 and 17 per cent) http://www.gfknop.com/pressinfo/releases/singlearticles/010454/index.en.html.  This means that the remaining one third of votes will be cast for the plethora of minor parties that have virtually no chances to surpass the 5 per cent threshold. All these votes will be distributed proportionally among the winners. In fact, it is a gift for the incumbents since most of the minor parties below the threshold represent the opposition.

Lack of unity is a persistent problem of Ukrainian democrats, and is especially…

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No Shortcuts!

Thousands of men travel to Ukraine every year in search of a wife, and only some get married in the end. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security 2010 data, Ukraine and Russia were not even close to the top 10 nationalities that most obtained permanent resident status. Top immigrants were from Mexico, China, India, Philippines, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Vietnam, Columbia, Korea (South) and Haiti. Out of 1,042,625 people obtaining permanent legal status, there were only about 8,500 Ukrainians who received Green Cards. About 2,000 of them obtained legal permanent resident status through marriage. I think even fewer came to the USA on fiance visa. As you see, with such a high amount of American men traveling to Ukraine in search of that special one, the number of marriages is relatively low.

Of course, those marriages don’t happen in just one magic trip. Many have no idea how difficult it might be to bring a Ukrainian bride home. It takes at least few trips to Ukraine in order to establish deeper connection and see if it is a good fit long term. Then, it is at least 7-8 months to bring a fiance to the USA, and another 3 months for wedding arrangements, etc. It is a very long process, and nothing happens in the snap of a finger. It takes about 2 years before one can close the deal. And it is hard, sometimes heart breaking journey.

Many also forget that looking for a wife in Ukraine is a costly thing. Flying across the ocean at least twice a year can cost you about $3000. Plus accommodations, averaging $60/night for at least 7 days, totaling $420 minimum if you stay on a low budget. Dining is about $100/day. That is $700 for 1 week. Based on my observations, I can say that many men who come to Ukraine on average spend about $3000-$5000 just for one trip 7 days long. They also bring suitcases full of gifts – expensive perfumes, Victoria Secret lingerie, jewelry, etc. The sadness of this is that many of them can barely make their living back home, and this “Ukrainian-babe-investment” is not worth the game. You can’t buy love. It’s not the money, it’s the connection that’s important. Suitcases of stuff will not buy you love, they will only clutter it if there is no true connection.

The biggest problem, I believe, comes from being unrealistic. Men quite often have high expectations. And some want just an affair, not a marriage. They think that they can get a babe in Ukraine just simply by showing up. They want model looking, hot babes that everyone back home in Arkansas would be jealous of. It’s like bringing home a trophy, and proving to a brother, father, or an old time friend that they are winners, not runners-up.   Well, it all depends on what you are looking for. One night stand or an affair will work just fine. But a serious long term relationship will be a stretch. A typical Barbie girl most likely will not be a secure long term investment. Even though there are some exceptions with true love and real deal. You know what I mean!

The reality is that some hot, young, 20 year old Barbie girl (high maintenance woman) not likely going to say yes instantly! She probably has all kind of attention already, and she definitely has choice. She will most likely choose someone closer to her age, or someone who would stand out from the crowd, or simply provide for the rest of her life if she’s more shallow and has no higher values. What I often see is that sometimes the values for those women are some hot Italian boots and/or piece of a nice jewelry.

Some men also sometimes forget to look in the mirror first, into their passport, lifestyle, and their assets before they decide to write to a 20 year old model. 60 year old usually doesn’t match well with 20 year old. It makes me wonder why in the world some guys would bring an engagement ring to that kind of girl on a first date. There should be some common sense! If she only takes you to the most expensive shoe shops and restaurants during your trip, not likely she is interested in you long term. Look for balance! Some decent shopping is not going to hurt, but if all you do is shop for her – it is a big red flag!

Only those men who have confidence, common sense and are really serious about finding their true soul mate, have higher chances to marry a Ukrainian woman, and any woman in the world. Many forget that American passport and a house in Texas can’t buy love and affection. Money and gifts are just components of an initial attraction. What’s worse is when money becomes an illusion of a potential love. It is very disappointing to see how many men (good men) come to Ukraine and spend more than they could ever afford, and afterwards feel that they have been used. Don’t be a fool, and nobody will fool you!

Not everybody is so lucky to get a piece of that desirable Ukrainian pie. But if you are realistic about yourself and others, have lower expectations, and look for a reasonable age difference, then you have a good chance to go home one day with your Ukrainian bride. Remember, that physical attraction is part of that mystique chemistry; mutual interests are a key to mental attraction; spiritual connection creates emotional comfort with each other; and combination of all the above leads to love and mutual respect. There are no shortcuts here!

Categories: Ukrainian Women | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

That magic spark that doesn’t have a price tag

Happily Ever After?

Ukraine is a country of brides. Thousands of them are walking on the streets every day. And thousands of foreign men are coming to Ukraine every year in search of a perfect woman. Ukrainian women are known to be very feminine, elegant, caring, and family oriented, fit, and well educated. And the question is ‘is it that easy to find a potential wife in Ukraine? Can a Ukrainian woman be a mail-order bride in a traditional understanding?’

A lot of men still think that looking for a wife in Ukraine is as easy as shopping at the market. The idea of finding a wife overseas with a click of the mouse sounds very compelling to many foreign men. Most think that it is easy: just find the one you like, write few letters, propose, get married and live happily ever after. It’s like a prepackaged deal- all the goodies in one box. What could be easier? It could, and it probably was that way couple decades ago. But these days it is not that easy as some might secretly wish. This whole ordeal about Ukrainian online dating and marriage is very intricate. Why? Because we are living in the twenty first century. This is the age of opportunities for both men and women. Women have more freedom and more choice, and therefore they do choose and select carefully. Ukrainian women understand their value now, and of course they want the best of the best- Prince Charming, if you wish.

After Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and the doors to the West opened, women discovered a new way to invest into their future. They saw an opportunity to escape from the place where they lost all their savings, their jobs, and the hope for better life. Foreign men were so different from the ones back home. They were confident, financially stable and full of new opportunities.  “Mail-order bride business” spiked in 1990s. More men were coming to the former USSR to find feminine, family oriented women. Men got great wives, and women got caring husbands, and opportunities to have better lives. It was a win/win for everybody.

But as we all know, everything tends to change. Economies change, opportunities change, and women change too. Ukrainian women became more educated and self-sufficient. These days, young Ukrainian women often acquire two college degrees. Now, they know who they are and respect themselves. They don’t just look for an escape opportunity any more, but they look for a husband with a long list of good qualities. It’s not just the money anymore, it’s the entire package. And those men, who think that getting a Ukrainian wife is just a finger click away, are completely delusional. This misconception gets them in lots of trouble, both emotionally and financially. Dating a Ukrainian woman requires a lot of work, time, money, and effort. And of course simple, but at the same time so complicated chemistry, that magic spark that doesn’t have a price tag on it.

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