Trying to get drinking water: our short trip to Carpathians

About two weeks ago my mum with her friend came to visit us in Lviv. After spending few days walking around the city we got bored and decided that we want to see the mountains which supposed to be not far from Lviv and to have a picnic there. Actually I was hoping that they would be really close. I surfed in the Internet and found out that there is a national park Skolevskie Beskidy about 200 km from the city, with a waterfall, a lake and a mineral water spring, so we decided to go there as the friend was with a car.

We took with us a map, two umbrellas, some food and several 6-liters bottles. From the very beginning we got lost trying to find a Lviv ring road, so accidentally we found ourselves somewhere near the Poland. When we got to the right road it started to rain. But who cares, mountains are beautiful under the rain!


However we saw the real mountains, and not just few hills, only at the end of our trip after 3 hours of driving. It kept raining and the streets were a total disaster, but we reached our goal: it was a small river in the mountains with a small waterfall…



Surprisingly there were some people: women selling souvenirs (even there, even in such weather!), guys frying shashlyk for selling, kids with a school excursion. Kids were everywhere around and very noisy. Trying to escape from them we went to a small meadow to eat our lunch. We couldn’t have a real picnic so we ate just near the car. Then we filled our bottles with water from a spring nearby with a sign “water of vitality”.


a bridge to the spring

The only attraction left was a so-called “Dead Lake”. There was also a sign pointing to the direction of the lake. The way there was very craggy, my mum and her friend suffered a lot following this way as none of us had good shoes to climb up the mountain. After all the affords to reach the lake we found a small pool. Well, we just had a bad luck that day. At least we breathed fresh mountain air, isn’t it marvelous?


a way to the lake


We had nothing else to do there and we headed back home. Though on the way we stopped off for a while at a town of Truskavets, a resort city famous for its mineral water well-rooms. My mum wanted to get there some mineral water that would make her more beautiful. After accomplishing this task we finally could go home. Of course we got lost again, this time on the central streets of Lviv.

In the evening sitting down an armchair my mum’s friend resumed our day trip: “I have never driven so far just to get some water. The only thing I want now is to relax and to drink some wine”.

Back to Ukraine: Folk architecture museum after the rain

For the third time in my life I am back to Lviv, Ukraine. This time for living, for a period of few months and not just as a tourist. I know I said in my other post that I don’t want to come back to Lviv anymore, but I had to do so because of my husband’s internship here. Living in Lviv is completely different experience from visiting it for few days.

This time I don’t explore this city but show it to my friends and relatives who come to visit us here. But I found out that there are still places that I haven’t seen myself, and these are the parks. In one of them there is an open air museum called Shevchenkivskiy hay.

A small description from one site: “This museum’s full name is Shevchenkivs’kyi Hai, National Architecture and Rural Life Museum. It’s an open-air museum of Ukrainian village life and a living reproduction of Western Ukraine from centuries past. Here you can experience Ukrainian village just like it was back then in wooden huts, with no electricity and other modern conveniences. The museum is divided into 6 ethnographic regions of the western part of Ukraine with 124 architectural objects, including wooden village houses, churches and everyday household items preserved in their original look”.

The weather all those days is very rainy so it occurred that we went to this museum during the rain. Luckily it stopped very soon and we had a very nice walk on the fresh air! The museum’s territory is about 60 hectares and one can spend there the whole day just walking around and visiting the old houses, churches, exhibitions… But it’s Ukraine, and in Ukraine nothing is perfect. Only few ways are done so it was difficult to walk because of the mud after the rain everywhere. At least half of the exhibitions were closed (though while buying the tickets we were told that all of them are working) as a lot of workers skip their work because it is weekend and no one controls them. In addition, it was quite difficult to orientate in this park: almost no maps, lack of signs showing the directions, no descriptions or explanations…

Despite this we all enjoyed a lot our walk in Shevchenkivskiy Hay, it is definitely worth to visit when you’re in Lviv!

 shevchenkivskiy hay 1

shevchenkivskiy hay 2

shevchenkivskiy hay 3

shevchenkivskiy hay 4

shevchenkivskiy hay 5

shevchenkivskiy hay 6

Volunteering for children with disabilities in Ukraine – Service Civil International

Our long-term volunteer Eilika wrote a post in SCI site about a workcamp “Garden of senses”. I repost it here coz we’re still looking for participants and I really want to promote this great workcamp.

Volunteering for children with disabilities in Ukraine – Service Civil International.

Last Saturday I and Eilika already started the work on the playground of the center for disable children “Pravo vybora”. It was my third time helping there. The workers of the center are very kind people and I already have learned a lot from them.  I would be glad if we can find more volunteers interested in participating in the workcamp there.

making pages for a tactile book

“Myth Chernobyl”: learning, discussing, creating…

I remembered this episode of my life because today, April 26, is the 26th anniversary of Chernobyl disaster. 

One year ago in April I participated in a youth exchange “Myth Chernobyl” organized by SVIT-Ukraine and the association of graphic designers “4th Block” in Kharkov. There were about 20 young people from Germany, Belgium, Czech Republic, Russia and Ukraine. The aim of this youth gathering was to learn about Chernobyl and nuclear energy in general and to make a kind of exhibition for the 25th anniversary of the disaster. I liked the topic and the task, I was hoping for better and I was enthusiastic.

About the daily life of the group. We were living in a dormitory, with one shower for all 20 people. I lived in worse conditions so for me it’s all the same, I could survive it. But for many of girls (we were mainly girls) it was a real problem. We were eating in the same café (the next street) two times per day.  We were fed up with it very quickly. The office where we could use internet, was the next street after the café. The Belgians liked to say that in Kharkov there are only 3 streets :) We spent in this district almost the whole time. Once we had a trip to Krasnokutsk dendrarium in Kharkov region. This was a nice journey even if I’ve been there two times before. In total I think that the Europeans were suffering a lot from our conditions. And they were shocked to see snow in the middle of the April :)

About the work and exhibition. Actually I haven’t done so much for this. The first week we were just talking and discussing. A lot of people and all of them see the problem from different points of view. I would say that it’s good in some respect, but only if you can organize the work of the group very well. It was not done in this way so for a long time we had nothing but the complete chaos of ideas and opinions. Some of us ran away from that chaos and organized a PR team to promote something we didn’t know what exactly. The last week of the exchange passed for me in front of the pc: writing advertisements, press release, promoting, making leaflets and so on. Also we made a kind of flash mob.


I don’t know how the other team, creating one, has agreed on something, but the guys did a good job. Of course we also helped them but only doing some manual work. They invented a lot of interesting and unusual exhibits and installations like a menu of nuclear disasters, a “dead” city under polyethylene, a cloud of nuclear dust, a map of Europe with atomic power plants, a wheel of fortune representing different diseases and many others.

Also we made few videos to show in a small room – about our vision of Chernobyl, about alternative sources of energy and a short advertisement “don’t step on radiation”.

All this took place in an art-basement of Kharkov municipal gallery. In the evening of the first day of the exhibition there was organized a kind of drum concert.

Though I didn’t like so much the organization of our work and of the whole exchange, the idea was pretty good. And I do really admire the people that can invent such things. They made the great exhibition just in few days.

The articles about the exhibition in local news (in Russian) here and here.

Some more photos.

“The Match” shooting in Kharkov and When finally we will be able to watch it?

Now the Russian film “The Match” is being discussed everywhere. The date of the release in Russia is 1st of May 2012 as I read. But the question is when we can watch it in Ukraine because the Ukrainian authorities want to forbid the movie to be shown before the Euro-2012. They think that “The Match” could cause a negative attitude towards German players during the Euro. I agree, it can be a problem. Football fans have enough of conflicts even without remembering the events of 1942. Some articles on this topic:

The Death Match: Football against Fascism

Forbidden film

“The Match” is timed to 70 years after the football match between Ukrainian and German teams. It was a so-called “deathmatch”. According to a legend the Ukrainian players were killed or repressed after they won this game. Well, who knows what really happened, something may be truth something not. I don’t want to judge this.

Actually just wanted to write about the filming coz I took part in a crowd scene in the movie. Some of the scenes were shot in Kharkov because the streets of our city are still like they were in Soviet cities before the war. One of the scenes was about the Germans entering Kiev. They needed there a lot of people and it happened that I also decided to participate and to experience the filming process. It is worth to do if you’re curious and have nothing else to do :)


They asked to bring my own clothes so I found some old ones that fit to the time at home.  At 7 am I was there with my fiancé, we changed clothes and went to hairdressers. The hairdressers had a really tiresome job: to make the hair to a hundred of people in one hour and then to run around the whole day to correct it.

The conditions of the work of extra players (and us among them) were also not very good. The filming day was supposed to last from 7am to 7 pm. We were not allowed to leave the street where the shooting took place even for the break. So very soon we were hungry and exhausted. There were some clever experienced people who brought the food with them, but we were not between them. There was tea, coffee, water and some cookies for free, but one can’t live one this the whole day. Finally we could escape and go to McDonald’s nearby. It was funny to eat there wearing such clothes.


The filming process itself was also very tiring: to do the same actions many many times the whole day. How people survive doing this every day? I don’t understand.  Of course we finished not at 7 but about 8 or 9 pm. And of course everybody (hundred or some hundreds of players?) wanted to enter the building to change clothes and to take money at the same time. The queue was unreal. Our people would definitely win “the most chaotic and quarreling queue” prize. So we left the filming place to have a walk and to eat something. It was a strange feeling to walk around the center of the city in our costumes :) I felt myself very silly. Anyway we came back around 10 or 10.30 pm, there was almost nobody left. So we could change the clothes and take the money easily. Finally the day was over. I have never been so exhausted! I can’t imagine this poor girl leading these crowd scenes every single day: to come before everybody, to explain what to do to this stupid people and to leave after everybody.

Of course I also liked to do this. I always wanted to know how it is going on, this filming process. So I’m satisfied :) But I would not like to do it again, it’s too stressful for me.

Photos from our filming day.

Христос воскрес! The night of the Orthodox Easter

Today we celebrate Paskha (Easter) – the biggest and the most important religious holiday in Orthodox Christianity. In Ukrainian language it is called “The Great Day” (“Великдень”). And it is really the greatest day of the whole year. I like to celebrate it and I’m always looking forward to it.

(taken from here)

I am not a very religious person, I don’t follow the Christian rules, don’t keep the fast and not well informed about other Orthodox holidays. I visit churches only as a tourist and I like them from architectural point of view. But one day (actually night) per year I always attend a service at some church. This day is Easter of course.

As far as I remember myself my grand-dad always took me to the church for the Easter. We woke up about 4 am, took a basket with kulitchi (cakes), eggs and so on, went to bless them to the church nearby, stayed there for not a long time and came back home. I grew up. Now I go to the church with my friends for the Easter service every year. It starts with a long ringing of bells and the religious procession. It’s my favorite part. I don’t know why but I love so much these church bells. I feel it with all my soul and it’s one of the best feelings I ever had in my life. Then the service continues in the church. About 3 am there is another procession outside: people stand around the church with their baskets and with candles, a priest go around and sprinkle them (people and baskets:)) with holy water. It depends of the priest, but usually you get almost completely wet after this :) Then the wet and happy people go home to sleep. But the service continues and the priests make few more processions.

the Easter night

I go home after the first blessing. This time I was at the cathedral in the center so I had to take a subway. It is the only day when the public transportation works the whole night. So many people there after the service, almost like during the rush hours! And everybody is with the baskets :) I was happy that it is over and I can go home. It is very tiresome and stressful to stand for three hours. After this I feel good because of the holiday and I feel bad because my back and legs hurt just awfully. I even think every time that I will not do it anymore but the next year if somebody proposes me to go to the church I answer “yes, of course!”. Surprisingly a lot of people go to the church and stand the whole mass. There are also a lot of youth and children.

I have to say that I don’t know almost anything about the services at the church. But every time I listen to it and notice something new for me. The last year I got to know that they use other languages during one part of the service (like Greek, Latin, English etc). This time I heard the Creed and was very proud of myself that I can recognize it :) Maybe the next year I could already sing something, but I doubt.

Sunday morning people start to call or to meet to congratulate each other with the holiday. This day instead of the usual greetings they say “Христос воскрес!” – Christ is risen! And the answer is “Воистину воскрес” – In truth risen. People give cakes and colored eggs to each other. At our home we make a lot of Paskha cakes and eat them for a week or two. I love them and I can eat it as a normal meal three times per day or even more. It’s always so pity when they finish coz no one do it more than once per year. So my Paskha cakes time has started today!!

this year Paskha cakes that I will eat soon :)

Paskha cakes from some other year


Chernovtsy: another magical city in Western Ukraine

Chernovtsy (or Chernivtsi in Ukrainian way) is a city in Western Ukraine, the historical center of Bukovina region. For a long time I wanted to visit this city because it was the place where the story of my favorite book of my childhood took place. The right moment came and I and my fiancé went to Chernovtsy within our Ukraine-Moldova trip.

After arriving in Chernovtsy early in the morning we tried to reach our host’s home. It was our first experience of staying at some couchsurfer’s place so I was excited and afraid at the same time. We had an address of the girl that had to host us, we knew the way to her home and of course we got lost in her district. Finally we found the apartment we needed, entered there and were very surprised if not to say shocked: in her 2-rooms flat she hosted 6 more couchsurfers. It turned out that these days there was a poetry festival “Meridian Chernowitz” and all others came to Chernovtsy for this festival.

It was a strange company of kind of eco-people: 3 Germans, 1 Ukrainian who was speaking German perfectly, 2 Moldovans and two of us. The whole morning the conversation was in German and I was sitting there like an idiot trying to catch some words. Our host didn’t know any German neither, she was laughing all the time and making photos of everybody. Very stressful first experience, I would say :) During this talk it turned out that I know one of the German guys. I met him in summer 2010 at the buffalo farm in Zakarpattia region, where I and my group from a workcamp spend one weekend and this guy was volunteering there. The world is so round! (I mean here that the world is very small. My fiance said that I can’t use the word “round”. I just translated literally a Russian expression. I leave this sentence how it is now, because it’s boring to say “small” and I don’t know how to say it in other way ^^)

In some time we went out and plunged in the city. I wanted to see everything there. Oh, I really love this place! It is quite small and there are not so many attractions. However it is a very beautiful city with everything that I like: multicolored churches, old narrow streets, pedestrian streets full of restaurants and hundreds of architectural monuments. Firstly I compared it with other Ukrainian cities in this style: Lviv and Uzhgorod. But Chernovtsy has its own specific face and charm. I can’t explain it in a proper way, but it’s a really marvelous city.

Chernivtsi street

Town Hall

Chernivtsi cathedral

Theater square

Besides just walking along the streets we also visited some events of the poetry festival. We have been to a presentation of Paul Celan’s poems in the house where he was living. We also went to the presentations of French and German poetry. In general there were a lot of events in different places the whole day during three days, so we missed a lot. But the festival was not our aim but a pleasant supplement to our city tour. And it helped us to enter the local university for free.

on Paul Celan's house

Meridian Chernowitz, German poetry

The university of Chernovtsy is its main sightseeing place. And usually you should pay to enter there if you’re not a student. But as I said with a leaflet of the festival you can go there without paying. That’s what we did. It is huge and beautiful. It was built as a residence of Bukovina Mitropolit in a byzantine and roman style. Then in 1875 it became a university. The left part of the building is the faculty of Philosophy. It has a very romantic courtyard. I felt in love with this courtyard, I can clearly imagine how it makes easy to think about some philosophical matters… The students in Chernovtsy are very lucky :)

on the way to Chernivtsi university

Chernivtsi university

I forgot to write that we gave an interview about the festival to some channel. Unlike my fiancé I am really bad in speaking and I don’t like cameras, but there was no chance to escape. I hope it was a local channel and if I was shown on TV nobody I know has watched it.

We finished the day in Chernovtsy with a concert organized within the festival. It took place at the summer theater of a city park and was a combination of the poetry and the rock music. I found this a very impressive show. I have never thought that a poetry festival can have so many diverse events. And I had no idea that there is such a famous festival in Chernovtsy so that many people from other countries participate in it. Here is an official website of the “Meridian Chernowitz” festival”:

We left Chernovtsy the next morning and I was sad about it… But Moldova waited for us, we bought the bus tickets to Balti and continued our trip.

More photos of Chernovtsy here.