Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ukraine Trip

Hi folks, we are back from Ukraine. We had a great time. I got to meet Tamara's family still over there (uncles, aunts, nephew, freinds, grandmother). We stayed in her family's house in Bohorodchany and we visited numerous places were she lived (she moved once while in grade school) and also her parent's hometown. Very much like one of the Eason guided trip of North Bend, except it was over a much larger area.

Several items:

One. Area we were in. Western Ukraine near the Carpathians. And I mean near. We were literally in the foothills of Carpathians, go one hour west and you were up in them. We stayed at a small house/hotel overnight and spent 2 days in the actual mountains. We hiked up one (1.2 kms in height, 14 km round trip) and also visited a Vail grade ski resort (which transformed a Deliverance style backwater into a Ukrainian Aspen in about 5 years). Go east and you get the steppes and a whole lot of Nebraska style open. Imagine the Platte River Valley but flatter and wider.

Two. May 9th. WWII Victory Day. Its a BIG deal in Ukraine. Every town had a major memorial (big honking Soviet style thing) in the center of town which listed every person who died fighting in WWII. It reminded me of older towns back east in the US that had Civil War memorials in the town cemetary, or France with WWI monuments. Parades, banks closed, whole thing.

Three. Ukrainian Nationalism. Next to every WWII monument was a new one which featured more names, a Trident, and two flags. These monuments were for the Ukrainian Liberation Army/National Army who fought and lost to the Soviets in the 5 year insurgency after WWII. The Trident is the symbol of Ukraine, the flags were the Ukrainian National Flag and the Liberation Army Flag (Black over Red). These monuments were VERY well kept up and always had flowers on them. In contrast, many WWII monuments were run down, not defaced though. I am going to do a separate post on this one as there was some interesting history worthy of a separate line. It was also interesting to note that some WWII monuments had been modified recently with some words obviously removed or sanded off.

Four. Livestock. Okay, I am a farm boy, but being in a city of 40K and being woken up by chickens crowing and seeing cows wandering around was a bit of a shock. And the cows literally walked themselves out to pasture and back again for milking. Bizzare in a way. And there are a bunch of crows in Ukraine too. Please note that this particular cow was actually a country cow we hiked past in the mountain. I only have video of the city cows.

Five. Water. Odd one to point out, but every house there had its own well. Even if they had indoor plumbing (and unless you were in small towns you did), you had a well. I rather liked that and the water was good. Again, this is a country well, but the design is the same. Again I only have video of city wells.

Six. Communist Stuff. NADA. And I do mean NONE. Every statue of Lenin had been torn down (in some cases rather violently I was told), and the one picture of Brezhnev I saw had the glasses, horns, beard, and a punk hairdo painted on by the locals with the words "Bite it commie" under it (in three languages, one being English). Russians are not so popular in Ukraine, but they will take their money. And as an interesting side note, Pres Obama is not really popular either. Not that he is unpopular, but the Ukrainians want into NATO and are not so sure O won't sell them out to Russia. This isn't my words, I heard this from many folks over there.

Um, no pictures. I have a cool video of a hole in the ground where Lenin's statue was, but it lasted about 10 seconds after Ukraine went independent.

Seven. My family. I now have family in Ukraine and they are a great bunch. Top to bottom, a Ukrainian Colonel, Commandant of a local military school. He is an Uncle in Law (great guy), Tamara and her Grandmother (Babushka) and her great aunt. Me and uncle Yuri and aunt Oksana. Last is Tamara and her nephew Andrew.

More stuff to follow as we go along.


  1. I wish I had the picture of Brezhnev. I enjopyed your blog.

  2. Thanks. Yeah, that picture was hysterical, but we were driving past and I couldn't get my camera up in time.

  3. Looks like you had a lot of fun there. I like you and your uncle with the hats.

  4. Yeah, he was a trip. I saw him march by on the VE Day Parade (just the cadets actually, but nice anyway), but didn't get him in his full up uniform. He is a full bird in the Ukrainian Army. I didn't really understand it, but I think he was now actually a reservist on active duty doing the academy thing. He seemed a bit old to be a full timer.

    Could still drink vodka like water though...