08 July 2011

Summer trip to Ukraine

I don't even know how the idea of visiting Ukraine, particulary Crimea, came into the mind of my friends, but when they asked me to go camping with them, I agreed.

As soon as I announced my plans at home, I met with a wave of disagreement from my parents, almost threatening and forbidding me to go. However, none of my friends were scared and so I just kept deleting my mother's e-mails containg the worst experiences of anonymous people from the Internet.
My first impressions of Ukraine were that it is huge and very very flat. Really it looked as if someone took eastern Slovakia (where I was born and where my family lives) and stretched it out, so that it was bigger and flatter. Yes, it does have mountains, of course, but to get down to the Black Sea, we had to go a long way through flatlands covered with fields and villages, sometimes with very bad roads. However, we did it and except the days when we had to drive a lot, it was amazing. We camped nearly everywhere, next to roads, on the beach, close to a vineyard... The Black Sea offered some wonderful views and I particularly enjoyed snorchelling with hundreds of unstinging jellyfish which seemed to be at every single beach we went to.
I am not going to pretend that I know something about history of the country or so. All the information I got was from the Lonely Planet guide about Ukraine that we followed. But even then, the impressions of some places were overwhelming. Some places did not look like Europe any more, because in the past it was controlled by many interesting nations, including Cimmerians, Greeks, Goths, Huns, Bulgars, Byzantine Greeks, Ottoman Turks, Tatars and Mongols. The food in Crimea is also unique and delicious. Because it was quite cheap, we had one meal in a restaurant almost every day. We enjoyed traditional soup called borscht and many other meals, such as dumplings called manti, plov, which is made of rice and called differently in many languages and sarma, minced meat wrapped in a grape leaf.
It took us around three days to learn how to read Ukrainian writing (I had it easier, because I studied Russian for about two years at high school) and even though almost nobody could speak English, but we managed with Czech and Slovak, some basic Russian and phrases from Ukrainian conversation book. Yes, it got funny sometimes, but it is a trip that I will never forget :)

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