A Brief Summary of my Visit to the Ukraine

Updated on January 3, 2018
Guckenberger profile image

Alex has taught at two public schools, been accepted into two honorary societies, and has traveled the Americas and Europe.

Province of Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine
Province of Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine

Way back in the distant year of 2014, Ukraine was everywhere in the news. There was political turmoil and acts of protest as well as acts of terrorism. That was exactly when I decided to visit the country. I love to be close to danger, especially when possible death and beautiful women are involved.

Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine
Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine

I still remember waiting in the car on the way to the New York city airport. We all had time on our hands, so I chose to watch the news on my smartphone. I saw an Al Jazeera news story about Kiev (the city I would eventually arrive in by plane). Things were getting heated and serious. I was excited in more than one way; and, that's how any adventure should start, shouldn't it!?

Statue of Vladimir Lenin Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine
Statue of Vladimir Lenin Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine

Note that my camera's time stamp was not properly set before I entered the Ukraine. I had bought the camera shortly before my visit, and the camera was automatically set to 2013 (which was probably the year of the camera's final release for that specific model).

Cats simply love me in every country
Cats simply love me in every country

I didn't get a plane directly to the Ukraine. That would be too simple, and who wants that? I had to stop in Warsaw, Poland in order to board another plane.

While I was in Poland, I went towards a money exchange booth with the intention of trading U.S. dollars for Ukrainian grivnas. After I had given the woman inside the booth my money, I learned that she couldn't exchange it for grivnas. It would have helped if I had been learning Polish! So, I accepted some Polish zloty and went on my way.

Statue of Vladimir Lenin Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine
Statue of Vladimir Lenin Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine

I think that one thing visitors should find interesting is the many, many remnants of the Soviet Union. There are statues of Vladimir Lenin just about everywhere. One can sometimes find hammers with sickles and "CCCR" (English: "USSR") engraved into city architecture and culture. I personally love statues and history, although I cannot state any positive feelings towards Lenin.

Another statue in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine
Another statue in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine

I will further note that statues of Vladimir Lenin are not the only statues you are likely to come across if you choose to visit the Ukraine. There are so many wonderfully crafted monuments all around this gorgeous country!

Me with a feline friend at the apartment of my ex girlfriend's grandmother in the Ukraine
Me with a feline friend at the apartment of my ex girlfriend's grandmother in the Ukraine

I first got off of the plane and went about the city of Kiev. Kiev has amazing buildings; they are far more magnificent than even our beautiful New York city! One of the first things that I noticed was that there was a Kentucky Fried Chicken sign on the side of one of the huge skyscrapers. I felt this was humorous, but I also was relieved to see something so familiar in this strange land.

A Partially Frozen Lake in the Dnipropetrovsk Province, Ukraine
A Partially Frozen Lake in the Dnipropetrovsk Province, Ukraine

Many of my ancestors wandered throughout various lands for years in search of the promised land, but this was my first trip beyond leaving a couple of US states away from my long-time home in Maryland. New neural pathways were linked and synthesized as never before felt emotions flooded my mind.

Dnipropetrovsk Province, Ukraine
Dnipropetrovsk Province, Ukraine

I spent the night on a train to the Dnipropetrovsk province. I remembered being in awe at the sheer size, majesty, and antiquity of the thing. I had never slept on a train before. My previous experience had been with another well-aged train that was far smaller and much slower.

Some Ukrainian beautitudes
Some Ukrainian beautitudes

I have always loved bunk beds and that is indeed what was there in the train's sleeping compartments. I went to sleep to soon wake up in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.

Me in the cold of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine
Me in the cold of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine

One of my favorite memories of my time in the Ukraine was my mustache freezing. I do not believe that this is seen in any of my photos; I suppose that during the worst of the cold I was far less likely to take any pictures, especially pictures of myself!

I shall take a moment to further emphasize how cold the Ukraine can be; while on a bridge in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, I saw people walking on top of a frozen lake below said overpass! I remember seeing lots of people there - even children! Me and my ex were about to try this out, although dire news came our way and we had to cancel.

Frozen lake in the Dnipropetrovsk Province, Ukraine
Frozen lake in the Dnipropetrovsk Province, Ukraine

An additional of the foci of my enthrallment was the cigarette kiosks. It was so puzzling for me; there simply existed enclosed cylindrical tobacco kiosks in the streets! The way they were enclosed reminded me of all of the protections around a cashier in some typical convenient stores. Though, these were just thin human operated cigarette vendors situated randomly in the city! I do not support smoking by the way. Even so, this was a strong indication that I was far from home.

Another Cold Day in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine
Another Cold Day in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine

Anyway, the year begins much colder than it does even in my semi-northern US state of Maryland. The weather warranted a lot of heat insulating clothes. I remember inviting my ex girlfriend to come and see the sunrise with me one morning. I bring this up, because during this freezing Ukrainian morning, all I could think of (besides I really want to go inside somewhere!) was that I wished she would wear thick boots instead of the cute little shoes she was wearing. Her shoes were adorable and even attractive, but I felt so bad that she had decided on fashion over personal comfort.

Me in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine
Me in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine

While in the country, I decided to do things that I could not so easily do back in Maryland, USA. For one, I used some of my Ukrainian grivnas to buy birch sap and quail eggs. I drank all of the birch sap and the quail eggs tasted just like chicken eggs do (they're just harder to prepare for eating).

A photo including a birch tree in the Dnipropetrovsk Province of the Ukraine
A photo including a birch tree in the Dnipropetrovsk Province of the Ukraine

One of my happiest experiences was when I was in the malls of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. In one mall, I had the chance to go up and down on elevators that rose with only supports at the top and at the base. I also got the chance to walk on a glass bridge at a concerning height - it was a blast (or, Oblast)!

Photo of Passage Shopping Mall given to me by me ex
Photo of Passage Shopping Mall given to me by me ex

At another mall, I wanted to go to the restroom before I ate with my ex. I only wanted to use the sink to clean my dirty hands, but I found that I needed to pay in coinage in order to enter. I simply paid and washed my hands. Perhaps this is a good kind of system - the bathroom was incredibly clean!

A Mostly Frozen Lake in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine
A Mostly Frozen Lake in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine

Yet another experience I remember fondly was my visit to the Dnipropetrovsk National History Museum. One of the things that one might notice right away is the beautiful and ancient statues that stand outside of the museum. My ex took photographs of these statues, but I do not currently have access to these.

A snowy day in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine
A snowy day in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine

I remember wanting to know so much more about the artifacts and objects in the museum, but having difficulty with the guide whose native language was definitely not English. [By the way, if said guide is reading this; I was not angry with you. I was in a very bad mood that day, but you were a very sweet and very good guide honey!]

Ukrainian flag positioned at Harford Community College in Bel Air, Maryland
Ukrainian flag positioned at Harford Community College in Bel Air, Maryland

Furthermore, the museum's collection is awesome; having everything from the most ancient of human items (like part of an ancient grave), to objects that are only hundreds of years old. I loved this museum so much, despite my moodiness!

Also me in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine
Also me in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine

As I mentioned earlier, I was in the Ukraine in a time of political unrest. My insider told me that the protest in the first of the two videos below was a faked governmental display. That is to state that, although there was clearly a congregation - not actual protesting was occurring according to my insider. This event excited me deeply as I was and am very fond of world news.

Purportedly Fake Protest in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine

My insider informed me that the following video of a protest was a legitimate protest. I loved the smells, the feelings, the air, and the overall atmosphere when I walked the streets in Ukraine (especially when I was in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. However, this protest added something else. Even in all of my travels in the country, this experience was very unique.

Allegedly Legitimate Protest in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine

I love Ukraine and I miss her so much. I recommend that you be careful and take safety measures if you ever decide to go yourself.

Some more gorgeous Ukrainian landscape
Some more gorgeous Ukrainian landscape

Regardless, I am certain that I will go back one day if I ever get the opportunity! The Ukraine is a super awesome place and I have missed her dearly ever since I came back to Maryland.

A statuette in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine
A statuette in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine

Okay, so I am not quite done yet! The plane ride home from Poland was very interesting. I had already noticed that the thin gentleman next to me may just be the only African on the plane - everyone else seemed to be very Polish. Even I am part genetically Polish!

Closeup of my ex girlfriend's grandmother's kitty friend
Closeup of my ex girlfriend's grandmother's kitty friend

Anyway, I felt comfortable with the man who was beside me as he seemed to be American as well. We began talking.

A beautiful evening in the Ukraine
A beautiful evening in the Ukraine

Soon, as our conversation got more intense, the two beautiful Polish women in front of us joined our conversation. One of the women was perhaps ten years my senior, and the other was about my own age at the time. We all started taking shots of vodka (I had been drinking ever since a woman, who I had given my virginity to, had died - I am about four years sober as of now).

Another snowy day in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine
Another snowy day in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine

How did I pay for the shots? Well, remember earlier how I mentioned that I accidentally traded my money for Polish zloty? I used the money I wouldn't be able to use anywhere else anyway! We carried on as the rest of the passengers acted like robots!

Rooftop views in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine
Rooftop views in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine

Later, the younger Polish woman told me that, if she had not had a boyfriend, then she would consider dating me. I hadn't even ended my last relationship and I was already flirting with pretty women! Anyway, the aforementioned African-American man - he's since gone on to perform on Broadway. There was something magical about this romantic ending to a life journey that was already quite fantastic!

Statuette scribbles in the Ukraine
Statuette scribbles in the Ukraine

© 2017 Alexander James Guckenberger

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Guckenberger profile image
      Author

      Alexander James Guckenberger 3 weeks ago from Maryland, United States of America

      Thank you dear. I love cats. ^_^

    • kymp profile image

      Kym L Pasqualini 3 weeks ago from Carefree, AZ

      Great article! Look forward to hearing more of your travels . . . drinking and your cat!

    • Guckenberger profile image
      Author

      Alexander James Guckenberger 7 weeks ago from Maryland, United States of America

      Honey, you just made my day! Thanks, I only wish I had more time to get around the world. Take care Flourish.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 7 weeks ago from USA

      Thoroughly entertaining. How did you manage to combine humor, drinking, travel, romance, and CATS all in one article? This was not your standard travelogue. I bet you make a really fun travel partner.

    • Guckenberger profile image
      Author

      Alexander James Guckenberger 3 months ago from Maryland, United States of America

      I very much appreciate that Sanjay. :)

    • SANJAY LAKHANPAL profile image

      Sanjay Sharma 3 months ago from Mandi (HP) India

      Thanks for sharing your beautiful trip to Ukraine. Your style of narration is marvelous.

    • Guckenberger profile image
      Author

      Alexander James Guckenberger 3 months ago from Maryland, United States of America

      Thank you so much Linda! You're awesome, by the way.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This article is interesting and educational. I enjoyed learning about the Ukraine and reading about your experiences very much.

    • Guckenberger profile image
      Author

      Alexander James Guckenberger 4 months ago from Maryland, United States of America

      I have, but I wouldn't know where to start such a venture! Thanks so much; the mall was amazing!

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 4 months ago

      An interesting article. That mall looks fantastic. With your love of being close to danger did you ever consider being a reporter?

    • Guckenberger profile image
      Author

      Alexander James Guckenberger 4 months ago from Maryland, United States of America

      Thanks Mom! ^_^

    • profile image

      Laura Guckenberger 4 months ago

      I really enjoyed reading this. I love your way with words, attention to details,all the while teaching a little about the Ukraine.

    working