Walking Chernigiv, Ukraine

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For a westerner’s eye, like mine, photographs capture the beauty of this city in northern Ukraine better than words. We have separated the world, giving an east/west classification that may be simple, but it is not descriptive. Ukraine is easily distinguished from many western countries, and Chernigiv is unlike any city in my home state of California in the USA. But different can be beautiful, and it is always interesting. Let’s prove that by seeing the sights  in Chernigiv. Let’s take a walk.

Drain spouts hang politely over the sidewalk, buses pass by, and you walk past forested areas as you near the city center. The season is autumn, and it is felt in your toes as they contact the stony cold of the street or sidewalk, and in your lungs as you breathe crisp cold. You feel the cold on your nose as you try to figure out ways to cover up in the coming winter. Autumn is coat weather, but pleasantly so. As you walk, you gather some steam, for there are hills to climb in Chernigiv.

chernigov8 014First, you walk past older homes, one-storied and rectangular. Their corrugated metal roofs are a study in geometry. Electric wires invade a building made before electricity, searching the easiest way to enter the home. Three-paned double windows line up along the houses’ sides, but only the smallest pane is open and only a few of those.

chernigov5 012A river rambles by. Or maybe it is a stream off the main river. There are so many trees that it is hard to get a view. Until you walk up to the top of the hill, and then there it is, a panorama memorialized by the residents of Chernigiv. A shrine is placed at the top of the hill, and the view is suddenly extraordinary. Orthodox domes, one after another line up into the distance. A wedding party gathers in the bright yellow fallen leaves, posing for photos. The houses nearby give off steam, adding to the mist of the day, swirling this landscape in a beautiful uncertainty.

You stop at the restaurant by the river, amazed at the fireplace in the center of the dining room, and grateful for the warmth. The meal is plentiful and robust. Dark bread and buckwheat, roast chicken with vegetables. You drink hot tea simmered with leaves still on the twig in a iron-wrapped tall glass.

Now, you walk to the main avenue of downtown Chernigiv. You can walk on either side of the street on the broad sidewalks, or you can venture down the promenade in the center of the street, passing water fountains that you are told shoot colored sprays during festivals. Of course, there is a statue of Lenin in the middle of this concourse, and several other statues. You recognize the name of a famous poet, but struggle to read the Cyrillic letters on the plaques.

Continuing, you pass a school, then the side street that leads to a large outdoor market, and the underground entrances to the walkways that take you to the opposite side of the avenue. You decide to use one of these underground crosswalks, and are delighted to find a string of small shops hidden beneath the street. You linger a bit and make some purchases. On the other side of the avenue, you wander into a large apartment complex and past a neighborhood grocery store.DSCN0373

You feel chill in the air and decide it’s time to return home. Past the apartments, through the forested area and back to the older one-storied homes, you are grateful for those two-layered windows. For the first time, you realize the significance of the complex design of the three panes and the double layers. You open the larger pane at the bottom of the interior windows, then reach through to the small pane of the outer one. You take off your coat and scarf and gloves and hat – your boots have already been left at the door – and let the steam leave through the window. Then, you close everything up again, and are grateful for the two layers of protection from the cold.

DSCN0154Residents of Chernigiv have structured their city in a way that makes sense. The cold, the ice, the beauty of the autumn leaves, the wandering river, the church domes all remind you that California is half a world away, and you are so lucky to be seeing this place that is new to you.

Linked to Restless Jo’s Monday Walks

 

 

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27 thoughts on “Walking Chernigiv, Ukraine

    1. Janis – I agree the window panes fascinated me. It took a long time to figure out why they had made them like that. Bruce and I spent a year in Ukraine in 2009-10 with the Peace Corps teaching at universities. I would never have guessed that the country would have erupted the way it has. Tough country, wonderful people.

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  1. Susan, I followed your toes over here for a walking tout of the Ukraine. Thanks for sharing this, as when I think of Ukraine I think of the struggles of late. Have things settled down somewhat where people can live a more normal life? Keith

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    1. Keith – we received an email recently from a Ukrainian friend who says her town, in southern Ukraine, is still reeling with all the changes. People are leaving (many for Russia) and she wonders about her future. My experience there was from 2009-2010, a much more stable time. Thanks for asking.

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      1. Susan, people want to live in peace and be able to feed and house their family. They will sometimes forsake small freedoms for that stability. Thanks for the update. Did not know you were in the Peace Corp. Keith

        PS – I was rereading a post from December which may have been the last one Larry Paquette responded to. It made me sad when I realized it.

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      2. ‘people want to live in peace and be able to feed and house their family’ – it really is as simple as that. And, yes, I also miss Larry’s blog voice and his infectious, sardonic laugh. Thank you for remembering.

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  2. Wonderful! 🙂 🙂 So sorry it’s taken me an age to get here, Susan. I think I travel backwards in time rather than forwards sometimes. 😦 I’d never heard of this place but I imagine it looks at its best in Autumn colour. I only know one Ukraine blogger (Anroworld- do you know her?- from Kiev) and she will be delighted with this. Thank you very much 🙂

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    1. RJo – I’ll hop on over and visit Anroworld’s blog. I need to check to make sure my links are working – not sure everything is exactly right on the new blog yet 😉 .. still working the kinks out!

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  3. Very interesting, Susan!! Although, I’ve been to eastern Europe many times, I have never been to Ukraine. The churches are beautiful and so is the nature clad for autumn. I had to smile at the rainspout that will inevitably refresh the walkers-by even more when it rains 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Tiny. Isn’t it interesting the way people personalize their surroundings? More than anything else – the history, the geography, the architecture – it’s the things people do with their towns and cities that fascinates me!

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  4. Hello, Susan! Jo told me about your post devoted to Ukraine and I couldn’t wait longer and came to pay a visit. I am Ann from Anroworld, a Ukrainian blogger who lives in Kyiv. As soon as I found out that you wrote about my country I had to come! And I am so impressed, even a bit speechless. It’s so nice to see my country through your foreigner’s eyes, you made me feel proud very much as well. Wonderful scenes and amazingly talented description, I admire it! Once I have been at that city and I have warm feelings towards it. I would like to thank you for your kind interest in my country and your inspiring attitude. You help us to believe that we are not so hopeless. Ukraine is not in her best years now, we have serious economical problems and war at Eastern part, but I hope to see this country blooming one day. Our USSR history is a heavy bag that cannot be get easily rid of !
    Have a nice day!

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    1. Ann – Thank you so much for your kind words. The people of Ukraine gave me such a warm welcome when I was there. Kyiv is a beautiful city – what a wonderful place to live! I hope for better times for Ukraine, and know that the Ukrainian people work hard to make that happen. My very best to you – I am hopping over to your blog right now! Susan

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  5. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : Yorkshire Sculpture Park | restlessjo

  6. Nancy Sarver

    Susan,
    I loved looking at your walks and would love a copy of your book. I doubt that I will have another chance at a cruise but enjoyed your company so much.
    Take good care and keep up the wonderful info in your blogs.
    Nancy Sarver

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