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Top 10 Travel Destinations Ukraine

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  • Day10

    Mountain Getaway / Yaremcha Market

    August 6, 2019 in Ukraine ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Today we are enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Carpathian Mountains. The hotel really does feel quite luxurious and I woke up feeling fairly rested, even though it was again a night with just shy of six hours of sleep.

    We showered and had breakfast at the hotel. Pretty typical European breakfast, nothing out of the ordinary. The morning plan was to shop at the Yaremcha market. The schedule had just two hours devoted to this which we knew from the start would not be quite enough.

    The market has so many shops with blouses, dresses, and many other Ukrainian trinkets. At first everything looked the same just because of the sheer volume. Compared to at home though there are really so many options and it was hard to decide which store to go into and start looking at seriously. Eventually we landed on a store in the middle of one of the main rows. Tyler found a shirt for himself first, a linen one with blue and grey embroidery that is quite fine and definitely hand embroidered. As he was getting close to his decision, I also found a really pretty burgundy blouse with short sleeves. We are both happy with those purchases!

    I made a somewhat impulse decision at another shop to get a T-shirt with embroidered flowers on the front. But it was very inexpensive and I’m sure I’ll wear it plenty.

    Tyler and I wandered a bit more. It was somewhat on my mind to get a dress but it was difficult to decide where to stop to look. They often would just have one size of a certain item, so if you liked the pattern but it was too big or too small then you’re out of luck on that one. After a few near purchases that I ended up deciding against because I just wasn’t in love, I found a blue dress with white embroidery that I really liked. Then it was basically time to go to the bus. But on the way we stopped at one more place. Tyler found a second shirt, one that is a beige linen with blue and golden yellow embroidery. I really like that one too. I tried on a stunning shirt in the same shop, without knowing the price in advance. Turns out it was 12000 hryvni, which is about 600 CAD. Trust me to find one of the most expensive blouses in the market. It was stunning though. I decided that was a bit too much to justify and my other items are also great but at much more reasonable prices.

    I think both Tyler and I were starting to feel comfortable shopping at the market right as we had to rush to the bus. We are going to a Hutsul wedding lunch today. Bus call was 11:30 am. We were a few minutes later than that as were many of the others. Both of us quickly donned our new purchases and are feeling quite well dressed for a Hutsul wedding!

    Now the bus is taking us about a two hour journey for a Hutsul wedding and lunch. The Ukrainian music is blasting, the girls are braiding each other’s hair in much more interesting and fun ways than we get to for dance and we are singing along to the music!

    I’ll post again after the wedding!!

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  • Day5

    Taras Shevchenko Memorial

    August 1, 2019 in Ukraine ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    The main stop on the bus ride today was an excursion to the Taras Shevchenko Memorial near Kaniv. Taras Shevchenko was a famous Ukrainian poet / artist from the 1800s. We were taken on a short tour of the museum and then got to see the memorial site / grave.

    The next bit is a description of what we learned during the tour, mostly so we can look back and recall what we were told. I apologize if I state anything historically / factually incorrect.

    Taras Shevchenko was born in 1814 in Ukraine. At a very young age he learned to read, which was a rare occurence in that time. He began to make extra money by doing drawings and started to get noticed. Eventually he was taken to an actual school where he further developed his artistic and literary skills.

    Throughout his life he made over 1200 artistic works. He was often wanting to earn more money to buy his brothers and sisters from serfdom. Eventually he was commissioned to examine national monuments in Ukraine and develop paintings of them.

    In 1847 Taras was arrested for being part of a secret political society. He was exiled to Kazhakstan to become a soldier there and was forbidden to write and draw (his pockets were even searched for pencil and paper). However he still was finding ways to write secretly for 3 years, but was eventually found out and arrested this time as a prisoner for 7 years. They thought he would die before the sentence was up.

    While in Kazhakstan the authorities needed someone to draw maps for them and chose Shevchenko. Apparently he made over 700 pictures of Kazakhstan. One interesting point was that while he was exiled he was still able to create paintings with no supplies by using squid ink and a needle. The museum had some of these paintings on display.

    After 10 years of exile, Taras Shevchenko was liberated and eventually came back to Ukraine. When he returned, he wanted to build a dream house. People recognized him as a poet / painter, but where he wanted to build was protested against because he didn't come from upper class. He was taken into custody again for this controversy and taken to Kiev. They decided to let him go but was heavily suggested to go back to St. Petersburg. While there he published a book with his own money and it was the first book published in Ukrainian, which was of course forbidden.

    Taras Shevchenko died in St. Petersburg shortly after his 47th birthday in 1861. The main reason of his death was heart attack, but it also due to the process used to make etchings (type of ink was harmful for the lungs).

    He was initially buried in St. Petersburg. But his friends remembered his last will and testament to be buried in Ukraine. There was a petition to move his body to Ukraine. Eventually his body was transported by horse and cart (10 day trip) to Kaniv, which is the location where he wanted to build his house.

    Initially his grave wasnt allowed to be very fancy. After some years, one local man found out and started to spread word, people donated money, and authorities gave permission to make a better grave. The museum dedicated to him was eventually built at his grave site and it was initially opened in 1939.

    The end of the tour involved more of the memorial pieces that have been done in his name. There was a wall of books of all of the different languages that his works have been published in. And then the coolest piece was a tapestry sized picture of him that was actually fully embroidered!

    We finished off the tour by getting some pictures in front if the main memorial statue that has been built over top of his grave site. Then it was back on the bus to carry on with the day.

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  • Day11

    Pysanka Museum

    August 7, 2019 in Ukraine ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    This morning we actually got to sleep in, all the way to 7:45am! Got almost 8 hours of sleep, but also starting to feel a bit throat sick, hopefully it doesn't turn into too much more. Our bus call was at 10:00 AM and Brooke had been talking about trying to go to the market once more since it is really close by. She ended up going quickly with a couple of girls and was successful in finding something small.

    We then loaded up the bus and departed for Kolomeya, this time it was just over an hour away. The name Kolomeya comes from the words circle/wheel and washing, so washing the wheels in the river. It was said that the salt merchants would wash the wheels of their carriages in this town and that is why it has this name. In Kolomeya we visited two separate museums; the Pysanky Museum and the Hutsulschyna Museum.

    Our first stop was at the Pysanky Museum. It was the only one in the whole world and was founded in 1988, but the actual building location was made in 2000. The outside of the museum has a massive pysanka built into the building. The guide told us that it measures 14m high by 10m diameter and that it is the largest pysanka in the whole world, but I beg to differ. Christine later downloaded an egg volume calculator and determined that the Vegreville pysanka is larger by 461 m³. Point Alberta!

    We were first given an explanation on how pysanky are written, but I think we are fairly knowledgeable on that front. They also have a special way of preserving the eggs by cracking it open along the middle to fully remove the yolk, then they line it with some sort of paper and then carefully put it back together. Not really sure why they don't blow them out, but there must be a good reason for it.

    The museum has over 12,000 pysynkas in it. One of the most interesting pieces was the oldest pysanka in Ukraine at 500 years old. It was excavated recently in Lviv.

    They had a section of pysanky that were all done with natural colors instead of egg dyes. Examples would be tree bark for brown, beet root for red/purple, and onion peel for orange.

    There was one wall of pysanky that were all done with a pinning technique. This involves making a drop of wax on the egg and then spreading it in one direction with a pin. Then it is dipped in a single color of wax. Very cool technique, Brooke said she might try it one day.

    Finally, they had a section with pysanky from all over the world that were provided to the museum by the ukrainian diaspora. Interesting ones were eggs from Australia with kangaroos on them and a replica of the Vegreville pysanka.

    There were also Canadian coins in the shape of an egg (worth $20). There are only 5,000 in the world and of course Brooke immediately wants one (says she wants one for her am I supposed to make that happen?).

    At the end of the tour Brooke bought a book on the history of pysanky origins and pictures of pysanky from the various regions of Ukraine. She was quite thrilled.

    Then it was off to see the Hutsulshyna museum (which will be in a second post).
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  • Day9

    Chernivtsi, Saskatoon's Sister City

    August 5, 2019 in Ukraine ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    After checking in at Hotel Bukovyna, we hopped on the bus to go to the centre of the city for a walking tour. Our guide was very informative. The main take away points were that Chernivtsi is quite an old city (>600 years old) and that there was a lot of Austrian influence in this city. There are quite a few beautiful buildings. We learned that Mila Kunis was born here. By the end of the tour I think we were all just tired and hungry.

    Dinner was at the hotel restaurant - chicken with mixed vegetables and polenta. Then nalysnyky filled with apple for dessert.

    After that, we decided to go to the hotel pool. Ten people could be there at one time. The pool was a little chilly but was pretty fun to hang out. Tyler and the boys played with a tennis ball which turned into a game of volleyball. We dried up with the bed sheets that were laid out instead of towels.

    Now I’m finishing this blog post in the hotel lobby with a Zakarpatskyi Cognac. Tomorrow is our workshop with the Buko State Ensemble which was my favorite workshop in 2013 so I’m pretty pumped!!!

    Side note: the title of the post is a fact I learned the last time I was here. Chernivtsi is Saskatoon’s sister city! I’m hoping we’ll get to see the place it says that tomorrow!

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  • Day10

    Hutsul Vesilia Continued

    August 6, 2019 in Ukraine ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Nathan and Audrey got back on their horses and we headed back to the school for the wedding reception. By this time it was about 4:30 pm and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast at 8 am so everyone was ready to eat! I was impressed that Tyler actually didn’t really get hangry. We sat at the head table. There were salads, salo, cabbage rolls (probably the best ones we’ve had in Ukraine so far) and meat and potatoes. There were trays of pampoushky on each table too. There was also more golden root home brew instead of vodka and the hosts led the traditional many shots once again.

    After eating, the musicians played for us. A couple younger children (I’d guess 10-14 years old) played the tsymbaly and a baian. The baian looks like an accordion but has buttons on the side instead of a keyboard. They even did a rendition of Despacito. There was also an older man who played a variety of woodwind instruments. He played a trembita which was amazing to see in person. One of the instruments looked like a shotgun but was actually some type type of a flute. He was truly amazing, it was hard to see how he could play such intricate hutsul tunes with such simple instruments. As it turned out he basically didn’t need an instrument... after his set he did a shot and then played a tune using only the empty shot glass.

    Next it was time to dance! We did some folk dances in a circle including one where the boys had to crawl under the girls legs. Unfortunately one of the neck tassels in Tyler’s brand new shirt broke off during a sit lift from the strain of having someone on the arms.

    After the dances, it was time for more food. They brought out banosh... which is essentially a corn meal pudding. It was delicious and very buttery. Dessert was a dough filled with a sweet poppy seed mixture! They look like really large perogies but the dough was more like bread.

    It was a day filled with amazing hospitality and was lovely to learn more about a traditional hutsul wedding. After a few more budmos, it was time to head to the bus. While we were waiting for everyone to file out, we had a little impromptu photo shoot with the mountains/sunset.

    We arrived at the hotel at around 10:45 pm. We were supposed to be back at 7pm so I think you can understand what we mean about the hospitality. Really wish we could stay in the Carpathians longer but we head out in the morning. Instead of going out for a drink with the others, Tyler and I made the wise decision to go right to sleep ... getting 8 hours straight for the first time this trip!

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  • Day15

    Emotions Starting To Get To Us

    August 11, 2019 in Ukraine ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    This morning we slept in til just after 8 AM. The schedule for the day involves a parade and then we will be bussed off to our second performance of the festival, so it was good to get some extra sleep. We had breakfast downstairs in the hotel with Emma and then back up to get ready. Again had to be dressed in full costume for this parade, so we were geared up in Hopak along with bringing everything else we needed for the day (separate costume and change of clothes). Luckily we could load up the bus with our extra stuff and then it was a short walk to the start of the parade.

    We congregated in front of the Opera House and then proceeded to wait, in the hot full costume. It is definitely an international dance festival because they have the hurry-up-and-wait part figured out. After about 20 minutes, they lined us into position and then the parade started shortly after. The parade was from the Lviv Opera House to the Taras Shevchenko monument which wasn't really that far, probably less than a km. Once there, all the groups lined up, there was a flower laying ceremony, and some sort of speech. We took a group picture at the end and it looked like it turned out well. Immediately after we loaded up onto the bus to head to Shevchenkivskyi Hai where we would be performing next.

    Shevchenkivskyi Hai is an outdoor old-style Ukrainian village type attraction. Think like the Ukrainian Village east of Edmonton. It is very spread out and rolling walking paths. What that meant is the bus could only go so far and then we had to schlep our costumes all the way in. Plus keep in mind we are still in Hopak costume with boots on. Plus plus - it rained overnight last night and the path in was still wet soil in spots. Wish we had known the length of the walk so we could change our footwear on the bus.

    We get to the stage and change area. The stage is covered and the audience seating is built in and permanent into the hill. Sort of like a mini-Dauphin stage. The change tents were right behind the stage and were a built up wooden floor. This was lucky because all around our tent was grass, which was also wet from the rain and muddy/squishy in some spots. Exactly what you want for dance costumes and boots.

    We changed out of costume and into street clothes so we could go eat lunch. Walked over to the outdoor area where we were going to eat and had to wait another 20 to 30 minutes for everything to get set up. Lots of people were starting to get to the point of crankiness, Brooke especially who was getting hangry about getting her boots a bit wet. Nathan and I being the positive people we tried to cheer everyone up with a song......I don't think it worked, mainly due to the fact that we got told to shut up for being too load.

    We had lunch in a fenced off part of the village. The food was a stew, cabbage salad, bread with salo, and fresh fruit. There was also limited space to eat as there were 4 cocktail tables in a small grassy area and some bench seating on the side. Nathan and I sat in a makeshift yurt (bench under a covered area). I actually really enjoyed lunch, it was quite tasty and the fresh apricots were a welcome addition.

    After lunch we changed back into Hopak, not to perform yet, but to walk further and do a photoshoot. This time we had the good sense to walk in our sandals and change footwear later. We initially lined up for one of the festival photographers who set us up in a very weird way. It didn't make sense what he was doing and apparently the pictures didn't work out at all. Immediately after we ditched that guy, stepped into the sunlight in a grassy area, and then we banged out a great photo with our actual photographer. Afterwards we walked even further to find a nice scenery to take a nice vignette photo with a great backdrop.

    It was then time to get prepared for this show. We were performing Hopak, Hutsul, and one Junior dance. I was legit concerned about having enough space to warm up due to the wet grassy area around us. Luckily the festival laid down some tarps so we could have access to the stage and then we realized that stage right had an actual full stone path. Perfect! Was able to properly warm up as best as can be expected.

    This performance is actually an "adjudicated" show to determine what gets into the gala performance tomorrow at the opera house. I'm not sure if it actually means that some groups won't get in, or more so it determines how many and which dances we perform. I made the joke of whether or not they would have a bell to ding before we go on. Our actual performance went very well, the energy on stage was really strong, and the reaction from the crowd was great. In true fashion, I was last out of the change room again and was just dripping with sweat.

    We then hauled everything back up the path to the bus. Some of the girls used up some coupons for carrying their stuff or a free ice cream, I think Jordan got the worst of it. Once we got on the bus Shane grabbed our attention and let us know that the feedback was very positive and they were very impressed with our performance and our technical skill. Shane then let us know that one Junior dance, Hutsul, and Hopak will be performed in the gala show tomorrow! We get to dance in the Lviv Opera House!

    Once we got back to the hotel we had to fully unload the bus as this was the last time we would see it. Bye bus, we had some good times! Next it was time to do an initial pack of all the costumes we didn't need anymore. We all met up on the 5th floor elevator lobby and then started sorting, rolling, and packing. It didn't take too long and then it was time for a quick shower before dinner.

    We headed out for dinner with Nathan, Audrey, Jordan, Christine, and Joren. My random suggestion was to go to a restaurant where I saw pumpjacks on the outside. Christine started polling the group for what they were hungry for and looked at Google Maps. She found a restaurant that one of guides had suggested and also had sizzling pans of meat. Turns out it was the pumpjack restaurant that I wanted to go to, so bonus!

    The restaurant was called Gas Lamp and has a science / historic oil theme to it. There were hundreds and hundreds of gas lamps as decorations inside and the restaurant had 5 levels with a very narrow staircase throughout. There was even a red light green light system to direct traffic up and down.

    The drink menu had a section called Chemical Experiements, basically their selection of different cocktails. We interpreted that you could actually sample each one and the drinks came in a rack of test tubes! It was fun to try them and not know what to expect for flavor. Some were really good, some we didn't finish. For an appetizer Brooke shared a pickle tray with Audrey that had red cabbage and pickled vegetables and I had spicy meatballs. Dinner I had a spiced pork sausage and Brooke had a braised beef with legit horseradish ice cream.

    After dinner we wandered over to П'яна Вишна (drunk cherry) to have a famous cherry wine. Bought a bottle to share amongst the 7 of us and stood outside on the street and drank it in the provided glass tumblers. Brooke really wanted to bring a bottle home so she purchased one in a decorative hard tube. Packing is going to be fun tomorrow.....

    We then walked back to Rynok Square. A couple of the guys decided to go for a beer at Pravda, local craft beer. The rest of us went shopping to souvenir stores around the square. At one point we got separated and it was Nathan, Brooke, and myself as a small group. We went back into Kryvika (Ukrainian bunker restaurant) to go to the souvenir shop but diverted downstairs to walk it through again. Realized there was a separate section outside where you could climb 5 flights of stairs to the roof where there was an anti-aircraft cannon that you could sit in and fully rotate. Super cool!

    Shortly after, we headed back to the hotel as it was time for bed and we have our last performance tomorrow.

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  • Day11

    Found Our Show Poster!

    August 7, 2019 in Ukraine ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    The bus ride to Ivano-Frankivsk was actually quite short, less than 2 hours. I actually was a bit more reserved on this bus ride, partially because I'm starting to get prepared for our show tomorrow and also to catch up on some blogging.

    We arrived in Ivano-Frankivsk and repeated the check in process once again. The room we have actually has a ton of space and has one main bed for the two of us! This evening we actually have the entire time to ourselves, which has been a rarity! After a moment of chill out in the room, we walked across the street with one of our tour guides to the supermarket to stock up on water and bananas for tomorrow.

    Our hotel is literally right beside the theatre where we are performing tomorrow. While walking out of the hotel we noticed our show poster in the theatre window!! That was super cool to see! Stopped to take a picture and then we headed off to find some dinner.

    Ivano-Frankivsk is really beautiful and super cute. We walked down the main pedestrian drag which is lined with different restaurants, cafes, and storefronts. While walking, we saw our show poster two more times on billboard advertisement walls! It's starting to make us super excited and feels sort of celebrity like. We also heard from other dancers that they spotted some different ones.

    We looked at a couple of menus and nothing really caught our attention. So we leaned on the power of Google Maps and found a pasta restaurant which had good reviews. The restaurant actually turned out to be a Ukrainian farm-to-table type of restaurant. They only use ingredients that are found in Ukraine. We had dinner with Nathan, Audrey, Jordan, Christine, and Joren and we were all in the mindset to fuel up for the show tomorrow.

    The restaurant actually had Ukrainian craft beer, so we ordered something that looked interesting and the menu said it was from the Hutsul region. Brooke and I shared a pasta dish and then each ordered a steak to get some solid protein. Side dishes of fried potatoes and grilled veggies along with a garlic sauce. Christine said her spaghetti bolognese was to die for. It was an excellent meal and we were very impressed with the restaurant!

    We took a meandering pace back to our hotel and then spent the rest of the evening ironing our costumes and getting prepared for tomorrow.

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  • Day5

    Kyiv to Kropvnytskyi

    August 1, 2019 in Ukraine ⋅ ☁️ 21 °C

    Travel Day! Today we travelled from Kyiv to Kropynytskyi and that meant pack everything up and load up the bus. We woke up, showered, and packed up our suitcases, then went down for a quick breakfast to make bus call for 9:00 AM. We were early by 10 minutes but the overall group was delayed. Partially because of the 3 small elevators bottlenecking everyone with their luggage but also because some people aren't making the largest effort to be on time for bus call. My overall opinion is that the call time needs to be taken a bit more seriously.

    The busses departed away and we got settled in. Played some bus games together and then it seemed like we were barely 45 minutes out and we made a stop at a gas station so the driver could have a smoke break. Gonna be a long day. Most people loaded off the bus to use the bathroom / grab a snack and it was probably a 20 minute wait. Then we were back on the road. Next the guys started up the traditional game of Kaiser on a dance bus trip. We made a makeshift table from a cardboard box from the hotel. Showed the game to one our of Ukrainian guides, Andrei, and he caught on quickly. However he couldn't believe how long it was taking which is the point since there is not much else to do. The game was up and down but Joren and I eventually beat Jordan and Alex!

    After another 1.5 hours, we stopped at the Taras Shevchenko memorial site. Check out our other post for a detailed description.

    After the excursion we boarded the bus and drove 10 minutes for our lunch stop. Our guides were hurrying us along because we were running late (hmmmmmm, I wonder why?). Lunch was at a restaurant and we had salad, borscht, and fish. I was still a bit peckish, but luckily was talking to the younger girls who had barely ate anything and was able to get another two bowls of borscht. Then it was time to head out, but had to let everyone have a bathroom break, through two stalls for 60 people. That takes a while. I passed some time with some of the guys by tossing a large bouncy ball around in the parking lot. Departed around 3:30pm.

    The next leg was probably going to take another 4 hours. Part of the reason for the long lengths is that the roads and highways in Ukraine are vary quite a bit in terms of quality. There are lots of potholes in the road and the bus has to slow down to a crawl sometimes to get through them. Some of the highways feel like backcountry dirt roads for what we are used to. To give you and idea, Google Maps says the entire length for today's trip was about 350km

    During the afternoon portion of the drive, the guys revved up our engines and busted out the Mario Kart 7, which is starting to become another dance bus trip tradition! It was a blast and we were having a hoot in the back of the bus. Probably played the entire rest of the drive. There was also another bathroom break at a gas station where we had to shuttle 60 people through 2 or 3 stalls. Oh and Brooke didn't have much to report from the afternoon trip since she was napping the whole way.

    We finally got to Kropvnytskyi around 8:00pm and unloaded the bus. Check in process took awhile and then we had the Great Costume Unpacking session. Opened up all of the costume suitcases and was distributing all of the costumes to everyone. I had a slight concern when I couldn't find a couple of pieces, but eventually they turned up.

    Brooke and I made the smart/but not smart decision to iron our costumes before going downstairs to the restaurant. Partially because there were a ton of people there already. Smart because we got the annoying work out of the way, not-smart because by the time we got downstairs we had issues with ordering food. Brooke had checked what time they were taking orders until and we were told we had 5 minutes. So quickly decided and then found out they weren't taking orders anymore and all we could have was a couple of cold clubhouse sandwiches that they had screwed up on someone elses order and a cup of soup (this was even with our friend Audrey helping to translate for us). Suffice to say we weren't too happy, but I guess things could always be worse.

    Anyways, it's been a long day and tomorrow is actually our first full show, so we need to get some rest.

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  • Day7

    Workshop and Travel to Vinnytsia

    August 3, 2019 in Ukraine ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

    After a lengthy 5 1/2 hour sleep, we had to wake up and start getting packed up. All of our costumes actually dried (by the way, at the theatre we sprayed our costumes with a vodka / water mix to actually kill some of the odour and bacteria) and we had to get them all packed up along with the rest of our luggage since we were checking out this morning. Checked out and then loaded up the bus to head to our morning workshop.

    The workshop was with the group Aelita and their director Vasyl Bosyi (everyone calls him Bosyi). It was folk choreography at a quick pace with less precision than we are used to. We got to learn a new buko dance that Bosyi had choreographed and that we are going to get to bring back to Canada and perform. What that meant is that we had to learn an entire dance in 3 hours from a great Ukrainian dance instructor who doesn't speak English.

    The combinations and steps were difficult and it was challenging to pick it up because Bosyi was going at such a fast pace. There was barely enough time to figure out the one combination before he moved on to the next. It was especially challenging once the music picked up in speed. I found it almost frustrating at times and had to calm myself down once or twice and remember that this experience is amazing.

    We did get through the whole dance and ran it multiple times. Shane was recording it all on video so that we can rewatch it later. Then afterwards they wanted to show us a gypsy dance, which was amazing. The men were so precise and sharp (one guy named Genna) and the girl was seductive, intense, and very in character. Shortly after we were invited to learn and dance behind them. Didn't spend a ton of time but it was a ton of fun to give it a shot and try to match their intensity.

    Side note, they had a live accompanist on an accordian again and it was humorous to watch the director and musician bicker at each other. Then the director would start dancing and the accordion player would pick up exactly where he was. One comment from Nathan was that the director didn't need to go find the spot in the music, just tell the accompanist. This made the transitions between run throughs quicker than usual, probably partially why we were so tired.

    The other thing to mention was that this workshop was probably the most I've ever sweated in my life. The room was hot, humid atmosphere, low air flow, lots of people in the room and we were constantly moving. My clothes were absolutely drenched and I just kept sweating. My dance pants felt extra heavy at the end so much so that the weight felt like it was pulling the legs down. At the end of the practice, I was able to wring out my shirt and drip sweat onto the floor, my guess is that I got 25ml total volume.

    Overall, the workshop was intense, absolutely amazing, and un-replicable. It was fun watching everyone really focused and trying to learn everything. And the director, Bosyi, was fun, passionate, animated, full of energy, and almost 80 years old.

    Right after the workshop they served us lunch in a side room. Salad, borscht, cabbage rolls, and cherry varynyky for dessert. Bosyi also brought out a special homemade shot called samohonka served with a herb called kalhan. We were told that it gives you long life and is really healthy for men. The taste was slightly caramely and didn't burn that much.

    The schedule for the day had us hitting the road immediately after the workshop to head to Vinnytsia. That meant that 30 sweaty and stinky dancers had to load up onto a bus without a shower. Jordan and I draped our sweaty dance clothes in the back of the bus and boy did they smell bad!

    We left at 2:30pm and got in around 9:00pm. Probably travelled 400km. Brooke passed the time on the bus watching a show she had pre-dowloaded on Netflx (Jane the Virgin) and a bit of napping. I was in the back playing Kaiser and Mario Kart again. This time we had a couple of the new girls join us and learn how to play Kaiser. We coached two of them along and they were starting to figure it out (except when one of them just bid 9 out of the blue without fully understanding it). Jordan and Joren won both games easily, but it was all fun. Mario Kart was a blast but I felt like the bus ride was too short and could have gone another couple of hours.

    We had one gas station stop and I finally tried a famous Wog Dog, which is essentially a pocket dog but is at all the gas stations in Ukraine. Our other stop was an impromptu photo-op on the side of the road by a field of sunflowers. Got a couple of nice pictures.

    When we arrived in Vinnytsia we went through the check in process again at the Podillya Hotel. We are only here for 1 night as a stop on the way to Chernivtsi. The hotel room was an interesting experience. The bed was tiny for two people (probably about the size of the downstairs bed at Baba's or just a bit smaller) and the shower was incredibly small. Side note, Brooke couldn't figure out the hot water in the morning and had to have a cold shower, hot water worked fine for me though.

    There was the possibility of walking to see a fountain show, but since we knew we would only make the tail end of it, decided it was better to get something to eat. Went and found some dinner with Jordan Chrisitne and Joren at an Italian restaurant called. We ordered way too much pizza and I'm pretty sure the waitress laughed at us when she took our order. Made some decent progress and left less than half a pie behind. After dinner we went for a drink at a cocktail bar with some rockin headbanger music. Nathan and Audrey showed up as well.

    Headed to the hotel to get a solid 6 hours of sleep and then we are back on the bus in the morning!

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  • Day12

    Ivano-Frankivsk Show Day

    August 8, 2019 in Ukraine ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    It was a nice treat to sleep in to 8 am and have a fairly relaxed day leading up to our second and final full length performance. Breakfast at Hotel Nadiya was awesome. The restaurant had a lovely outdoor terrace and made our coffee and croissants with Nutella even more enjoyable.

    Our walking tour started at around 10 am. Our guide explained that Ivano-Frankivsk used to be called Stanislav, for the son of the Polish man that once owned the city. It was renamed to honour a Ukrainian poet, Ivan Franko. We learned that this city was really quite multicultural - having Ukrainian, Polish, Jewish, and Armenian origins. Some of this diversity was really devastated by World War II and there are just a couple buildings left particularly from the Jewish and Armenian quarters today. Ivano-Frankivsk was also a fortress city but none of the original walls exist anymore.

    Our guide explained that there are now a couple NGOs devoted to improving the city. One to build structures and parks for children, and another to preserve beautiful and historic doors and other building features.

    We visited a beautiful arch that was a gift for 350 years since the city was created and also passed by the city hall and peeked in at a few churches.

    The tour ended at around 11:30 and we had a bit of time to prepare for our show. We got to load our props to the backstage and Kristen braided my hair and I braided Christine’s. The time flew by and it was time to meet for lunch. We walked to a restaurant a few blocks away. We had a cabbage salad, borscht with chicken in it, and the main course was a plate of banosh (corn meal porridge) with mushroom sauce. Tyler thought and I agreed that it was an unusual pre-show meal and not quite what we’d usually gravitate toward before a big dance show.

    We had about half an hour to prep the rest of our stuff (pretty sure I did my makeup on record time) and then it was time to go to the theatre. The theatre was literally across the street which was very convenient. Mikhailo was already outside of the theatre when we were heading there. So Tyler and I said hi for a couple minutes. He had already got tickets for the show. He was with a friend of Natalia’s named Lilia who lives in Ivano-Frankivsk.

    In the theatre we got our stuff set up, in the dark at first before the theatre lights were turned on. The stage was wooden, and quite uneven with metal plates in some places. It was definitely a challenging stage to dance on compared to what we are used to. However the actual grippy-ness of the stage was quite manageable.

    Our tech rehearsal was quick for a few reasons. The lighting was very simple and I don’t think there was much to adjust or decide. Also, as we had recently done the full show it wasn’t that difficult to set spacing again so soon.

    We finished ahead of schedule and had a very comfortable amount of time to get ready for the show. The change rooms each had their own music going and it was a fun upbeat feel in the building.

    The kolach for pryvit was absolutely stunning... it was ornately decorated and even tryzubs on its sides. I decided to get my costume on a little early to get some photos with the bread. I otherwise never get to do that since the bread is at the end of the dance and there’s always a quick change after. Before the show, we had our usual pow wow on stage. It was Jordan’s 300th show!!! Pretty amazing timing given that Christine and Jordan were performing the lead roles for Heroiam Slava.

    The show was again full of energy and emotion. There were a couple hiccups... one of the girls took a fall during the Transcarpathian dance (luckily I think she was ok after). The audience was very supportive of all of the dancing. At the end of the 1st half, a lady ran up onto the stage after the curtain had closed to give flowers to Christine. It was very sweet. At intermission, Josef’s daughter came backstage. I said hello quickly but then needed to head to change.

    After the final bow of hopak, the crowd chanted Molotsi! This is like bravo or saying the show was amazing and felt amazing to hear! After a quick group photo, it was time to find the relatives who had come to the show. Mikhailo and Natalia’s friend Lilia, a couple and their two children (I must admit that I don’t know their names nor relation) were the first we saw. I did recognize the mom in that group and Mikhailo explained she was pregnant the last time I was here in 2013 with her first daughter and now she has three children! The oldest two were at the performance. They brought flowers and other treats.

    We took some photos and then Josef and his daughter Natalia (and her husband Yuri and granddaughter Marta) found us too! They all seemed to have enjoyed the show. I introduced everyone to Tyler and Kim and we took some more photos. Next it was time to go pack up all of our costumes. I did this quite fast... Tyler is always one of the slowest to pack up and especially since we were already behind the others that changed immediately he was the last one out of the theatre.

    I hung up all the costumes in the hotel room and changed my clothes. Then I went downstairs and found the group of family. We went to the hotel restaurant and got settled. Mikhailo’s English is still pretty good, and so it was fairly easy to communicate and he translated back and forth. Tyler joined us just about ten minutes later. We had coffee and tea and apple strudel. At one point, Natalia Melnyk phones from Germany and said she was very sad she couldn’t make it to see us. We showed everyone some pictures of recent family gatherings and of our wedding. It was a really nice visit!! Everyone said we should come back (and bring Halya/Gail and other family) but not on a dance trip so there would be more time to visit! Tyler officially knows more Ukrainian than I do. The relatives could tell that he was understanding more and saying a couple words back a bit more often than I was. Josef’s daughter Natalia said something to this effect.

    The rest of the dancers meanwhile had showered and some had gone for dinner. Some dancers had convened in one hotel room to visit after the show. We had some vodka, pizza and chips and celebrated our last full length show in Ukraine.

    Now we’ll be off to Lviv for the International Dance Festival!!!

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