Why one should definitely visit Ukraine

8 лютого 2017
Ukraine has many fascinating factors and interesting reasons to entice foreigners and travelers to visit and enjoy their stay. Something more than just tourism for the discerning lot is presented in the write-up. Read, make up your mind, pack up your bags and explore and discover much more than just beautiful sights, historical sites, monuments, lush steppes, Carpathian mountains in your travel to Ukraine.
  • Yes, Ukraine is a lovely country with splendid, beautiful natural endowments, geographical grandeur, architectural splendor, historical dimensions, musical charms, and culinary delights.
  • It is a nation of hard working, civilized, hospitable and kind people.
  • It has spellbinding countryside with fairytale atmosphere and picture-postcard-like views and striking sceneries.
  • Yes, it is more than 1000 years old and if archeological excavations and discoveries are to be believed (and there is no reason not to believe them) it is anything like 3000 years old civilization.
  • Yes, it has fantastic ancient forts, palaces, and other grand structures.
  • Yes, its capital Kyiv is not just beautiful but very beautiful.
  • Yes, its people are nice, pleasant, good-natured, talented, honest, helpful, friendly (few more adjectives would just add on to their genial and affable qualities but would fall short of the fair description of their entire gamut of traits and characteristics, which can be self-discovered through personal interaction only).
  • Yes, they have perhaps the best aggregation of beautiful, pretty, charming girls and young women who can just enchant and fascinate you for no fault of theirs (or for that matter yours too).
  • Yes, it has an almost 100 percent literate population.
  • Europe is supposedly the only continent without a real, authentic desert (though it has arid and dry lands that resemble desert formation but are far from the true looks & feel of a desert) but Ukraine has a 200 hectares 100 percent desert zone in the state of Kherson.
  • It is surrounded by two oceans “The Black Sea” and “the Sea of Azov” – real summertime vacation place for fun, frolic, Sun, sea, and sand with the entire family which after visiting these places can languidly, happily sing – ‘We had joy, we had fun, we had our seasons in the Sun’.
  • It has lush, verdant, expansive Carpathian mountain range that mesmerizes the travelers with its curls, curves, valleys, greenery, beauty and glory.
  • It has splendid churches, cathedrals and other holy places of worship. Ukraine has a number of wooden churches and their construction and architectural design are an attraction in itself.
  • It has Lviv with its nostalgic ancient European architecture, design, looks and has been declared the UNESCO heritage city for its old world charm. Apart from that Ukraine boosts of number of other buildings and structures that are listed as places worth visiting (by leading tourists’ portals) and figure in UNESCO world sites.
  • Few kilometers from every big city (and in many cases even within the city itself) you would be rewarded with ponds, streams, rivulets – ideal places for camping, hiking, fishing, leisurely spending your day (and even night in the company of your friends). Just right for romancing the nature or more simply for unwinding, de-stressing and rejuvenating.
  • It has its own seven wonders which include Sofia-Kyivska, misto Kamyanets-Podislski in the state of Khmelnetskiy and other equally captivating locations that should be visited once you are in Ukraine.
  • It has historical monuments, structures, designer buildings of yore which are a testimony to the greatness of a former big power, a bubbling, bustling trade center of past and a land of exquisite ancient craftsmanship.
  • Ukraine is a compendium and treasure-trove of folklore, folk music, ethnic richness, native wisdom, colorful rituals, traditions and customs that represent a very vibrant cultural manifestation of the land and its people. 
  • Sure it has splendid boulevards paved with chestnut trees that sway and flow with the gentle breeze, squares, city centers and simple charming environment that beckons and openly invites anyone and everyone for a stroll.
  • It is dotted with magnificent parks, green enclosures and open verdant space that is soothing and comforting to the eyes, mind, body and soul.
  • The vast steppes disarmingly bewitch you with the unending spectacle of Sunflower dotted stretches and lovely blooming wheat-fields.
  • The metro station Arsenalna at Kyiv, which had been built in 1960 at the depth of 105.5 meters is considered to be one of the deepest metro stations in the world.
  • The “Love Tunnel” in the state of Rivne is an amazing natural formation that enthralls one and all who visit the One-kilometer long tunnel shaped lush green structure formed due to the overhanging trees crisscrossing and hugging each other. It warms the hearts of not only lovers but everyone who visits the natural wonder.
  • Yes, its traditional, ethnic wear “Vyshyvanka (Вишиванка)” which was very much part of national Ukrainian attire has become a fascination for the haute-couture-conscious celebrities due to its elegance, attractive look and eye-catching designs. Once in Ukraine you can proudly claim your own piece of this astounding fabric, flaunt it and be the cynosure of all eyes and transform yourself instantly into either a "Diva" or a "Connoisseur".
  • Popular Ukrainian singer Jamala’s victory in last year’s Eurovision (2016) provided Ukraine the opportunity to host the grand, prestigious show at Kyiv in 2017. So for all the aficionados and lovers of music, song, and dance Kyiv is the destination that should not be missed this year.
In addition to the above-described 25 reasons, Ukraine has plenty of other factors tempting enough to draw discerning tourists to its shores to enjoy the beauty and savor the warm hospitality. As a country, Ukraine comprises of 24 states (provinces) and the autonomous republic of Crimea (which at present has been forcibly occupied by Russian forces but is very much a part of Ukraine).

As can be understood each state of Ukraine along with Crimea has much to offer the visitors and travelers. Be it museums, memorials, monuments, ethnic wares, traditional handmade goods, every state has its own charm, alluring places of interest, hotspots that are unique, interesting and fascinating for visitors of all tastes and choices.

Everyone can find something to his or her liking and pick. Ukraine has enough to enthrall, satisfy and please all newcomers. So if each state is taken as a reason to come to Ukraine we coolly get another 25 factors that would delight and motivate any foreigner to visit Ukraine. Adding this set of 25 factors to the earlier cited 25 reasons we have compiled and presented 50 motivators and stimulants which should impress the people desirous of exploring new lands, deciphering new cultures, and keen on seeking fun, excitement and enjoyment from their foreign travel and overseas visit.

It should be noted that all the above tourism-related reasons and factors are quite an open knowledge and information related to each of the above-mentioned aspects can be obtained through the Internet or tour operators, but apart from that there are still some embryonic and emerging grounds for coming to Ukraine and few of them, still unknown to most, are expressed below. This time I am gonna write about Five hitherto little-known factors that have mostly remained obscure (generally due to various political reasons).

1. Rediscovering historical authenticity

As Ukraine has gained independence 25 years ago only much of the historical account of its existence as a country enslaved by Russians is slowly becoming public knowledge. The communist regime of the erstwhile USSR tightly controlled the media which was 100 percent state-owned and the Soviet bureaucratic machinery painted a highly propagandist picture of the life and living conditions that existed in Soviet Union. (And which were often diametrically opposite to the real situation that prevailed in social, cultural and economic environment).

For those who want to discover the real, authentic and truthful record of how people struggled against a monstrous, rogue, totalitarian regime, Ukraine is the best place to visit. In Kyiv, the secret archives of the deadly and feared Russian KGB have been put to public access that recounts the reign of terror unleashed by Russian communists on Ukrainians. Suffice to say all horrible acts like mass deportations, false trials and subsequent killings, the annihilation of local culture, extermination of all ethnic & native attributes like language, folklore, music, customs and social norms was remorselessly carried out and forced Russianization was imposed upon all the respective fourteen republics.

Perhaps Ukraine is the right place to see and to feel the consequences of such an evil dictatorial rule as Russians feared the Ukrainian uprising and the subsequent disintegration of the USSR (though that eventually happened and Ukraine was at the forefront of that "Breakaway Movement"). Even slightest rumors of any plot/scheme against Russian communist rule were dealt in a sledgehammer manner. False alarms of this nature were tackled by the criminal rulers in the form of killings and murders of suspected people. Independent Ukraine is slowly and steadily rehabilitating all such innocent victims of Russian atrocities.

Another horrendous crime which was committed by Stalin and his communist goons was Holodomor – the artificial famine that killed millions of innocent Ukrainians in the year 1932-33. In the freezing winters of that year Russian communists confiscated all foodstuff and all forms of grains and eatables from all the Ukrainian families which led to the mass shortage of food and the resulting consequence was deaths of up to 10 million innocent Ukrainians.

It was planned, organized and carried out by the evil soviet empire at the behest of Stalin, ostensibly to break the back of Ukrainian farmers and prevent any signs of the uprising. And succeed did Stalin as Holodomor strangled an entire nation, throttled generations and altered the very basic DNA of Ukrainian ethnicity and race. Though finally after its independence from soviet Union in 1991 Ukrainians are coming out of the shadows, fears and psychological wound of Holodomor and gaining courage, confidence to face their most gruesome, ghastly and dastardly enemy – the Russian Federation.
Memorials, museums, galleries have been built that honor and mark the grave injustice that millions of Ukrainian men, women, and children received from the blood-thirsty, depraved Stalin and at the hands of other horrendous communists who ruled over Ukraine from 1918 - 1991. Peace loving, resolute, ingenuous world citizens who believe in social equality, justice and brotherhood would do well to visit these sites, talk to people who are fortunate to be alive but have suffered or seen the cruelty/brutality of Soviets. Such action would assuage, to an extent, the collective pain of Ukraine. At the same time spread the message that world remembers Stalin’s excesses and people globally would not forget them to ensure that such crimes are never repeated in any form with anyone anywhere in the world ever.

2. Getting acquainted with "The Tripilska Civilization" (Трипільська цивілізація)

Modern day Ukraine and its capital Kyiv once cradled quite a developed civilization. Archeological findings suggest that the land was earlier inhabited by resourceful people who lived alongside the river Dnipro in the region what is now Cherkassy state, some 200 kilometers from where Kyiv is located today. Inquisitive travelers and curious visitors keen on knowing more about The Tripilska civilization (or just interested in getting acquainted with the way how people lived thousands of centuries back) would be quite pleased with their travel to Ukraine as they would be able to see with their own eyes and get to know the artifacts and remnants of a civilization that lived some 3000 – 5000 years ago. Moreover researchers, archeologists consider them to be the forefathers of ethnic/native Ukrainians.
The items, things, ornaments, potteries discovered in excavation reveal a significant level of development, craftsmanship, industry, enterprise and wisdom of the society and community of dwellers that lived then. The exponents of the Tripilska civilization are on display at many place in Ukraine, main among them being at Kyiv, Cherkassy and some other states. Some experiences and memories of foreign tour and travel never fade away rather they resurge, reappear and remind us of the pleasure, joy and happiness and even prompt us to repeat the trip.

Travelers and foreigners visiting Ukraine would be delighted and richly rewarded with the sheer diversity, beauty and gaiety they would experience during their stay in various parts of Ukraine. They would relive the glorious moments of history, antiquity and at the same time enjoy the living spirit and dynamism of modern day beautiful country that is, though centuries old is just 25 years young. Apart from the acquaintance with the historical dimension and ancient connection of Tripilska Kultura (Трипільська Культура), travel to the vast countryside would reveal the expedition potential of a land that is wide and vast yet green, serene and mostly unseen.

3. Rediscovering the faith that has survived centuries of neglect and is now thriving

As is evident Ukrainians today are predominantly followers of Orthodox Christianity but the existence, ethnicity and nativity of modern Ukrainians has been conclusively proven to predate Christianity then the obvious question arises what were the religious practices and orientation of ancient Ukrainians. It would be very interesting for curious and inquisitive folks to discover the unique aspects, distinguishing features and special attributes that were considered holy and sacred by ancient Ukrainians. How and what they worshipped, what were their distinctive rituals, exclusive customs? Why they adhered to that particular system, how it gave them spiritual identification and what things/elements they considered divine and Godly?

Fascinating answers to all these and many more equally intriguing and exciting questions can be had by all seekers who would invest time and effort in reaching to the followers of Neo-paganism in Ukraine who are supposedly the successors and heirs of the ancient faith Paganism that was widely practiced all over Ukraine before the advent of Christianity.

Some of the striking attributes of the ancient religion included worship of Dazhboh – the SunGod, who was considered the supreme divine entity by the worshippers and followers. Another significant aspect was offering prayers to the idols with each God having his or her incarnated divine form. Also much importance was attached to the natural occurrences. These are just few of the remarkable features among scores of others, which can be ascertained by the discerning travelling lot during their journey that would lead them to unearth facts, factoids, truth and trivia related to wonderful religious ceremonies and sacred traditions of ancient Ukrainians. 
Writing more about the ancient religion here would be a giveaway and letdown for the folks who would be rather happy to interact with the groups, community and simple people who are engaged in preserving and extending the cult and practices of the faith that had been almost buried under the pressure and influence of Christianity first and then the non-believers & atheist communists created conditions that nearly led to the disappearance of a faith that was followed by tens of thousands of people. Its teachings and preaching were not much different than what other present day religions espouse.

Pagans sincerely believed in their Gods (again as followers of other faiths do) and considered their religion to be the source of rightfulness, Gods’ blessings, holiness, solace, peace, joy and contentment. Any further description would be tantamount to “blasphemy” so I would rather invite travelers and visitors to embark upon the great journey of rediscovering the practically lost faith which has been partly recovered and slowly being restored by dedicated and committed “Neo-Pagans” to its former significance, importance and eminence.

4. Coming closer to cultural brilliance and linguistic magnificence

Many of us are aware of the wondrous sights and natural bountiful places that make Ukraine a “must visit destination”. Most tour operators, travel agencies and web portals talk about what to see, where to stay, what to do, what to eat, what to wear and so on, but very few highlight the amazing richness, diversity, complexity, novelty and beauty of ethnocultural splendor and grandeur that Ukraine posses. Its traditional customs related to wedding, festivals, anniversaries are charming, colorful, celebratory and full of fun & frolic. Various religious events like Різдво (Orthodox Christmas), День Святого Миколая (Day of Svyata Mykolaiv), Великдень (Easter), etc. are celebrated with joy, gaiety, customary fervor and are a delight to watch and participate.

The vivacity, exuberance, and merriment inherent in Ukrainian culture can be further experienced by joining in the excitement of ceremonial fairs that showcase the local socio-cultural milieu and are representative of the respective states’ colorful customs and traditions. These fairs are almost like a carnival in all its radiance, glory, shine, color, energy and ethnicity. Some prominent are Ivana Kupala celebrated on the 6-7th night of July in remembrance and honor of love, joy, family ties, marital bonds and all that which evokes love.

Most of these carnivals and local festivals are not complete without the exhibition of the way Kozaks lived. Kozaks are and were the warriors who fought against the invaders, Russians, and Mongol-Tartars. Their legendary fighting skills, warfare, and spirited living style is famed and is indicative of the universal freedom loving characteristic of Ukrainians. Watching them simulate and re-create the atmosphere in which they lived is interesting, fascinating and an educative experience in itself.

Another lesser known aspect (and which has not been given much coverage so far) that would have you enchanted is the melodious, soft and smooth, song-like Ukrainian language. Its beauty lies in its pronunciation and its utterance is musical to the ears. Of course foreigners would not understand much of what is being spoken or talked about in the Ukrainian but its harmonious intonation and mellowness would surely catch their attention.

Perhaps most foreign tourists may not be aware of the fact that under Russian rule and the succeeding communist regime the usage of Ukrainian language was completely banned and prohibited. It is to the patriotism, determination and strong will of Ukrainians that against all sorts of suppression and repression they managed to keep their ethnic identity intact. As an independent state Ukraine is slowly restoring its culture, language and its folklore to its rightful place.

Two more things which would enthrall the visitors and tourists are the Ukrainian music and wholesome, delicious food. If one is lilting and foot-tapping the other is nourishing and satiating. So pack your bags for a ravishing, enjoying the ethnocultural exploration of Ukraine and you would be rewarded with a deeply satisfying memorable experience.

5. The people factor

Of course, without exaggeration, if the sights and sceneries of Ukraine are fabulous then its people are fantastic in themselves. Be it the multi-linguistic youngsters who skillfully speak at least three languages – their native Ukrainian, English, French, German or Spanish. These talented young people strive for excellence and better performance in various spheres of life. Though their country has not achieved its economic potential due to poor leadership and rampant corruption, hard-working, skillful Ukrainians try to devise their own ways and find means to get along with life despite the obstacles and in spite of the economic mismanagement by the ruling elite.

Talk of launching new ventures, start-ups and an entrepreneurial orientation, Ukrainians in a short span of 25 years since gaining independence from USSR in 1991 have done commendably and shown remarkable resilience against all odds. The biggest hurdle in their path of success, prosperity and economic development happens to be their own short-sighted, pathetic politicians. And their woes seem not to end.

The Russian invasion on the Eastern border and its armed occupation of Crimea has forced Ukraine into a needless and unnecessary war. But as it goes adversity tests the character and strength of men and women. The patriotism, heroism and courage of Ukrainians have not failed them and the enemy is paying a heavy price of incursion into their territory. Russia’s aggression also brought to fore the spirit of volunteerism and it is due to these thousands of selfless, mostly, young men and women that the frontiers are being kept stocked up with all the essential medicaments, materials and military requirements which is a big morale booster to the thousands of brave soldiers who are standing guard at the borders and defending the country from the aggressor.

Paeans can be written about Ukrainians warm human qualities, the meticulous nature, the ‘do-it-approach’, creativity, dedication, and their commitment to causes like faith in European integration and so on. Ukrainians would pleasantly surprise you with their friendliness, warmth, kindness and hospitality. Suffice to say, their easiness, enterprise, energy and liberal attitude make their nation proud of them and provide hope of a much better future for not only its own citizens but to all the foreign visitors and travelers coming to its beautiful land.
P.S. A little knowledge of Ukrainian language would give you a much deeper acquaintance with the culture, people, history and modernity of Ukraine, enrich your perspective and make your admiration grow for this great country.
Happy Journey/Safe Journey = Щасливої/приємної Дороги (Ukrainian equivalent)

Start your lessons of getting acquainted with the Ukrainian language today and soon you would be deep into it and it would give you a clear advantage over other travelers.
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Суніл Суніл 17 квітня 2017
Щиро Дякую Дарина. Радий Вам сподобалось. Завжди приємно одержати відгуки. На Все Добре - Хай Щастить :)
Дарина Дар Дарина Дар 15 квітня 2017
Wow, great article! I'll recommend to all my English-speaking friends on Facebook to read your articles :) My deepest respect to you for the work you're doing! Daryna
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