We went to Ukraine for the second time to celebrate the 80th birthday of my grandfather-in-law, or “dido” (dee-doh) in Ukraine. I was even more excited this time because of my high anticipation for cheap delicious food, and experiencing the Summer weather instead of Winter. It was a very special trip, being Olya’s husband, I am also family now. We had a full house of everyone from the States visiting and staying together, there was never a dull moment.
This time we would arrive in the capital Kiev, over 8 hours away from Olya’s home village. The highway was fast and easy, perfectly paved surfaces that looked like any other European highway with English translation of city names. However once you got closer to the village, the local roads start looking like swiss cheese, pot hole filled craters that slow downed the driving to a crawl. Once we got to settle in the house, it was family visits, enjoying food from family or eating out for dirt cheap, shopping, and oh… rescuing a puppy too.
Don’t you wish your home far away from home is just a drive away behind an imaginary border that you can visit whenever you miss it? I would replace New York State with Taiwan, and Pennsylvania with Ukraine.
Our drive to Olya’s home town Holyn was filled with endless fields of sunflowers against the backdrop of a setting sun. We made a stop to smell the rich soil and fresh air of Ukraine. Mostly because our Hertz rental car reeked of a hotbox from the previous renter. While we certainly did eat a lot during the trip, our favorite part of any meal when eating outside is the salo appetizer, 100% cured pork fat slices eaten like butter spread on bread with slices of garlic. While it’s considered very common food for locals, it was a delicacy for us.
While visiting local markets in Ivano-Frankivsk, we heard a shrieking cry of a scared and hungry puppy that started following us. Although Ukraine is the land of stray dogs, we couldn’t resist but to help this lonely pup. We took him home with us, bathed and fed him, named him Sharkie after putting him in the box of the Shark brand flip flops I purchased. Scroll to the end to watch Sharkie’s video!
We miss it already and we seriously recommend anyone interested in visiting to let us take them for a group trip someday.