Let me tell you about my home country, my personal paradise, My Ukraine
Being Ukrainian today means going through each day experiencing every emotion, the full spectrum, anything from happiness, joy, pride, and humbleness to just paralysing sadness and fear. We find comfort in our memories. This is what I want to share with you today. Just a tiny bit of Ukraine’s beauty. My personal paradise.
Every week I sit down to write and I think about what I want to share with you. I’m so extremely grateful for this opportunity, for this platform to tell you the factual truth about Russia’s barbaric attack on Ukraine. I share the information on our wins and losses, on our heroic people, our brave army, and our valuable heritage that we are so desperately trying to protect.
A lot of things happen in a war zone in a week, there’s no way I can cover even 10% of what is going on in Ukraine right now. And it’s hard to choose the topic, everything is so important.
For example, Russia is still holding the whole world hostage with the nuclear threat by mining the Zaporizhya nuclear plant. They are still stealing our crops, but finally countries are refusing to buy what Russia stole from us: this past week, the Russian cargo ship Fedor came back to Sevastopol port with 9,000 tonnes of stolen Ukrainian corn because Turkey didn’t let the thieves unload their cargo.
I would love to tell you all about Russia’s huge losses on the battlefield, and despite their bravado, absolute inability to protect their weapons storage and military sites in Crimea, Kherson or Russian Belgorod.
I want to tell you about the heartbreaking number of civilians killed by Russian terrorists this week. Russian missiles attack Ukraine every single day, and most of our civilian deaths are now in Mykolaiv and Kharkiv. On 17 August, Russians fired a missile into an apartment building for hearing impaired senior citizens in Kharkiv; two days later in the morning in Mykolaiv, nine people were severely injured because of a missile attack. And four of those people are kids: the youngest being three and the oldest 17.
Being Ukrainian today is going through each day experiencing every emotion, the full spectrum, anything from happiness, joy, pride, humbleness to just paralysing sadness and fear. This emotional rollercoaster is with us 24/7 and a lot of us find comfort in our memories. I find myself often thinking of my favourite places in Ukraine and this is what I want to share with you today. Just a tiny bit of Ukraine’s beauty. My personal paradise.
Ukrainian pink lakes
We have quite a few pink lakes in Ukraine. The best of them are the Syvash Lake, the Lemurian Lake, Solonets’-Tuzly Lake, Kinburn Spit, Zyablivske Lake, and two of my favourites: Henyches’ke Lake and the Kuyalnik Estuary near my hometown — Odesa.
Unfortunately, most of these beautiful places are now under occupation as they are mostly spaced in and around Kherson. The lakes aren’t pink all the time, the water itself isn’t pink, it gets the absolutely phantasmagoric pink colour thanks to unicellular algae dunaliella, an organism that reacts to sunlight and colours the water pink. So, if you want to see the lakes in their most gorgeous pink you have to pick a sunny day for a visit.
The Valley of Crocuses in the Carpathian Mountains
One of the most mesmerising things is the bloom of crocuses on the hills of Dragobrat or Goverla Mountains in the Carpathians in the early spring, just when snow begins to melt. The panorama is absolutely unforgettable. All of the mountain hills are covered by vibrant purple flowers with orange centres. The bright pink pops even more when boosted by the bright green pines and bright blue skies.
The crocus stems are very short so it looks like the mountain slopes are covered with purple carpets. Paired with absolutely unforgettable Carpathian hospitality, cuisine and local fruit-based spirits the trip to the Valley of the Crocuses is something that your mind would go to again, and again, and again. Mine definitely does.
Askania-Nova Falz-Fein nature reserve
Askania-Nova is one more place Russian terrorists are trying to steal from us. It is an amazing biosphere reserve near now occupied Kherson. The reserve is also a research institute of our Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
Established in 1898, Askania-Nova is now a beautiful zoological park, dendrological garden and also an open territory of virgin steppes. The Falz-Fein reserve belongs in the top 100 of the most renowned protected areas of our planet. It is a sanctuary for millions of birds and a great number of mammals and rodents.
There are many endangered plants that have already disappeared everywhere in the wild growing in the reserve. Since the occupation, the reserve has been closed to visitors and the staff is doing all that they can to survive and to save everything around them. They are true heroes. Most of their work is now funded by donations as there isn’t a way for them to access government accounts.
Palanok Castle in Mukachevo
One of my favourite places, placed on the town hill, the Palanok Castle looks as though it was made up in a fairytale. The castle is probably the most famous attraction in our ancient city of Mukachevo, Though we don’t know for sure, it is believed that Palanok was built in Kyivan Rus times. The castle has a rich history and before the Russians came to our land with war, thousands of tourists travelled here every day to walk around Palanok and enjoy the absolutely breathtaking city view from above.
Sofiyska Square in Kyiv
My mind often goes to this place in the heart of old Kyiv. It is a place of beauty, architectural intelligence and talent, history, a place of true strength. Sofiyska Square is one of the oldest parts of Kyiv; it’s just a few minutes’ walk from the city centre and, the most important detail for me — just a few steps away from my place of work, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.
One of the most famous places on the square, not just in Ukraine, but in the world, is the Unesco World Heritage site — the more than 1,000-year-old Sophia Cathedral. But, if you ever think about going — visit during the Christmas holidays. Sofiyska Square is a true Christmas wonderland. The aroma of baked goods, sweets and meat cooked on fires cover the square, a million tiny lights, a huge, gorgeous Christmas tree, market and carousels for kids — all add to the magic that is Christmas time Sofiyska Square.
Sakura blooms in Uzhgorod
Uzhgorod is a charming ancient city in western Ukraine. I would absolutely recommend going there any day if the occasion arises. There are beautiful castles, gorgeous streets, unforgettable architecture and just mind-blowingly tasty food.
But the May Sakura blossoms are something very special. Furthermore, usually, at the same time the Japanese Sakura trees turn Uzhgorod’s streets pink, the city holds a Sakura Fest which features local food and wines, highlights the city’s cultural significance, and features many musicians and artists.
Market Square in Lviv
Lviv itself is an unforgettable place. It seems like every building there holds thousands of years of history at the very least. Lviv is home to more than 60 museums and over 100 cathedrals and churches. And, if I’m not mistaken, Lviv is the most visited city in Ukraine.
My favourite place of all is Market Square in Lviv’s historic centre. The Market Square is on the Unesco World Heritage List. Though rather small, it has been Lviv’s favourite place from the Middle Ages till today. Every building on the square is an architectural monument, but probably the most recognised building is the town hall, the home of the city council. It is absolutely remarkable and I miss it very much.
These are just some out of probably a hundred of my favourite places in my beautiful Ukraine and I promise to continue telling you about them. DM