When I told a friend of mine I was going on a trip to the Ukraine he said…seriously? Was Afghanistan not available to you? I was going to Kherson, Ukraine to see my brother and his family and to pick up my English mum (aka The Queen) and bring her safely back to Oklahoma, with a few fantastic days in London. I’m not sure The Ukraine would ever be at the top of my bucket list travel list, but it was a great opportunity to see a country that was certainly in the news these days.
The Ukraine is like a decaying dowager, great bone structure but the paints peeling and she isn’t looking as fresh as she once did. I found the architecture stunning and the streets were tree-lined and there were an abundance of parks. The people need all the fresh air they can get before a freezing blast of winter. Outdoor cafes were filled and the people that frequented them were dressed to the nine’s. Not one pair of sweatpants in sight.
The people were not used to American women. American men seeking Ukrainian brides used to be in abundance as the pretty women were hitched and relocated to small towns across the country. I stayed at a lovely hotel ($25.00 per night) and the young women would gather in the morning to watch me. Not in a creepy way, but I was a curiosity. There were a lot of young men going to a Maritime College and a lot of soldiers.
It was hard to spend money here. The currency has taken a beating and the dollar goes a long…long way. Really nice meals for five with drinks and salmon and beautiful vegetables hit at $18.00. A cappuccino was 50 cents. The average man here makes 100 dollars a month. But the problem was there was nothing to buy . It took me forever to find somewhere that sold Russian nesting dolls. That was found at the marketplace…which was a visual delight.
There were stray dogs everywhere. They would lie in the sun and make their way about town. But not one looked emaciated and my brother told me that a man in a Mercedes comes and dumps piles of food for the dogs every night.
Beautiful Russian Orthodox Church near the river front. It was locked.
Kherson has a great riverfront. Several cafes and lots of people strolling and men fishing. Urban planners would have a field day planning a great tourism mecca here.
There is a brand new incredibly clean supermarket in a mall that was once a fabric factory. Eat your heart out Whole Foods. And check out the sushi boat. McDonald’s was the favorite of the locals…and seriously they served fried brie with cranberry sauce.
There is an airport with one plane that lands once a day in Kherson.. A scrappy airport official (and former Soviet Ming pilot) has foraged other airports and assembled a newly redone airport with a very nice VIP lounge. Vodka anyone?