There's a lot to see and do in Ukraine without stopping in the biggest cities. On our June 2006 trip, we flew into Kyiv and out from Lviv, but by-passed both those cities, spending time instead in Cherkasy, Ternopil, Kamyanets-Podilsky, Chernivtsi, Kolomiya, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Kalush.
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The Dnipro river is very wide at Cherkasy, the regional capital of Iowa's sister state. For our first few days in Ukraine, my husband and I joined up with the visiting Iowa delegation. At a meeting with oblast administrators, our group renewed the ten-year-old Cherkasy-Iowa partnership.
Soon after arrival, our hosts took us sightseeing. Our first stop was the brand new Holy Trinity Church, where a baby was being baptised while an artist painted murals on the walls. Before we left the vicinity, a wedding had taken place in the church.
Next on the tourism list were sites connected with Cherkasy region's native son and Ukraine's greatest hero, Taras Shevchenko.
In the Zvenyhorodka district, the Cherkasy hosts and Iowa visitors stop at a local Shevchenko monument and lay flowers down.
In Shevchenkove, we visit a remodeled school and see its library with emphasis on Ukrainan history and culture.
A short distance away is the birthplace and early childhood home of Taras Shevchenko.
The historical preserve also contains a Shevchenko museum and a chapel, where our bus driver lights a candle.
We were entertained by a folklore expert and encounter another wedding couple.
Nearby in a shelter in a park, a luncheon feast is waiting for us. Afterwards we see a few gigantic oak trees, including this 1020-year-old oak that Shevchenko is said to have rested and written under.
Subotiv is associated with another hero from the Cherkasy region, Bohdan Khmelnitsky. The restored church is the reputed burial place of the great Cossack leader (though the guide said his body hasn't been located yet).
Next door lives a 92-year old woman who came out to greet us.
In a nearby restored cottage, we're treated to a luncheon of regional specialties. An Iowan enjoys the local style borsch and the very potent mead that comes with every course.
Back in Cherkasy, our group sees the new computer room in School 17 and is hosted for lunch by school director Serhiy, shown with an interpreter. (Note the French cognac on the table.) After lunch we visit our partner in many projects, the Cherkasy Women's Center, and enjoy the choral group "Colors."
A visit to Cherkasy isn't complete without checking out the large outdoor market. Our first stop is for honey, and sure enough, there's a smiling honey lady at the Pani Kristina booth. We buy our favorite, lypa (linden blossom) honey.
It seems like every kind of food imaginable is available, from smoked fish to live quail. There's loads of fresh farmers' cheese too.
Leaving our friends in Cherkasy, we enjoy an overnight train ride west. From our stop in Ternopil, we go on to Kamyanets-Podilsky.
The old fortress, one of the leading tourist attractions in the country, began as a wooden castle in the 11th century that was rebuilt in stone by various ruling powers between the 14th and 18th centuries.
After lunch in Bid Bramou, a restaurant built into the citadel wall, we make a 20-minute drive south to Khotyn to see a fortress on the steep right bank of the Dnister river. Originating in the 13th century, it was rebuilt during the 15th and 16th centuries.
Next day we're on our way to Chernivtsi, in southeast Ukraine not far from Romania and Moldova
Along the way, many roadside vendors are selling fresh fruit. We're in luck, it's strawberry season! This vendor's colorful clothing shows the region's Bukovynan influence. Chernivtsi, a cosmopolitan city with a multinational heritage, bills itself as "Little Paris." The music and drama theater was designed by the Viennese architects who designed many European theaters, including the Vienna Opera.
St. Nicholas Cathedral (1939) is known as the "Drunken Church" because of its oddly twisted cupolas. Children's art was on display inside the church.
Chernivtsi University was built from 1864 to 1882 in Romanesque and Byzantine style architecture that incorporated traditional Ukrainian geometric motifs. In the elegant Austrian-empire-style Czernowitz restaurant of Hotel Bukovyna, a wonderful two or three-course lunch for four cost a total of $39US. As restaurants in Ukraine go, this is expensive.
Continue on to Part 2 (of 2)