Our Trip to Ukraine 2013
In September of 2013, my wife, her sister, my brother-in-law, and I did a 21 day tour to Ukraine with Cobblestone Freeway. The places we visited included Kyiv, Simferopol, Crimea, Yalta, Odesa, Chernivtsi, Tulova, Kosiv, and Lviv. In Kyiv we visited the Taras Schevchenko University, the Golden Gates, the Chernobyl museum, the Maidan square and much more. The city is well organized with numerous historic and beautiful buildings. The population is two and one half million. The Dnipro River flows through the city with its green valleys, much like Edmonton. We had an overnight train trip from Kyiv to Simferopol which was quite exciting. We each had a small private cabin with bedding for the night. At some of the short stops along the way it was possible to buy warm perogies and fruits from folks who came up to the train. We visited Yalta, the place where World War II allies: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin met. The sad part is that in 2014 the Russians took over Crimea and fenced it off from Ukraine. Our tour experienced a wonderful cultural experience of music, food, and dance at Tulova, similar in some ways to our own Ukrainian village east of Edmonton. The rolling green hills and Carpathians are breathtaking. In the rural areas it is not unusual to see homes with a stable nearby if not attached. Our last stop was Lviv “the Paris of Ukraine” . It is a picturesque UNESCO World Heritage Site. We were impressed with the beautiful Baroque architecture of St. George’s Cathedral and renowned opera house. Cobblestone Freeway staff were excellent throughout the trip. Ukraine, since soviet times, is modern, but still in the developing stages. Wages are not high and life is humble in most cases. What pains us in Canada is Putin’s needless attack on civilians, who just want to make an honest living. It is very difficult to watch the news each day. Using missiles to destroy cities, infrastructure, and population is despicable and even a war crime. Because Ukraine was not accepted into NATO the country is not protected by Article 5. In spite of this, many countries are providing small arms and humanitarian aid. It seems that Putin is engaging in bitter jealousy and revenge for Ukraine’s independence in 1991. Putin, who served in the Soviet-era KGB, has called the collapse of the Soviet Union, as the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century. Did it occur to Putin and Lavrov that people generally become more successful in life by being nicer rather than being hurtful, mean, or cruel. There was a lot that could have been done collectively to help both countries develop agriculture, natural resources, infrastructure and more.
George Leonty (retired teacher)