Being married to a Ukrainian woman, I’ve always heard many stories she’s had growing up there in a village. I grew up in the city so the images of being in a village was foreign to me, with only images from movies in my head. I’ve at least had some preparation for Ukrainian cuisine thanks to her family’s wonderful cooking, I was ready for even more in Ukraine.
My first trip was in January, in the middle of winter. There was the possibility of large snow storms there, although we got the large snow storm in New Jersey the week before my trip. I heard the snow in Ukraine had all melted already, leaving me with plenty of mud. The road conditions in Ukraine are questionable. There are major highways that are in much better condition than in America, but once you get into town and small villages, they become pothole ridden, and eventually becomes just dirt. Words are difficult to describe what Ukraine looks like, that’s why I think it’s so important to document the trip for friends back home to see. The most outstanding fact about this country is how the economy is doing so poorly that the exchange rate is a huge benefit to us, the tourists. A meal for two with drinks, appetizers, entrees and desert would equal to about $8 USD.
Olya’s family lives in a small village 7 hours west of Kiev, with the closest large city of Lviv, 2 hours north. We spent most of the time with family, with occasional trips to the city. Eating out isn’t normal for local families, but we took every chance we could get to enjoy all the foods this amazing country had to offer, for ridiculously cheap. My favorite discovery was salo, cured slices of pork fat. It makes me salivate anytime I think of it. I also had my share of moonshine with the uncles.
The experience in Ukraine was a unique one throughout all of my travels. I really loved being with my new extended family and getting to know them even with a language barrier. While I missed the creature comforts of home, the moment I set foot at home I miss Ukraine already.
All photos taken with Olympus OM-D E-M1 and OM-D E-M5 II.