Another thing we remembered from our 1st trip to Ukraine, then the Soviet Union, was the street vendors selling Kvas (the Cyrillic spelling is Kbac) from carts with something that looked like metal beer barrels. Every time my husband saw one of these vendors on this trip he kept saying we should get a glass but the taste just wasn't something I was nostalgic for. But after the umpteenth time of him saying we should get some, he finally did from a lady near the harbor in Sevastopol. Kvas must be an acquired taste, people from this part of the world have been drinking it for over a century.
Kvas, for the uninitiated, is is a fermented beverage made from dried rye bread or barley with sugar and yeast added to help it ferment, it has a very low alcohol content. Kvas is also sold bottled in grocery stores but if you are going to try it, you should really do it from one of these nice ladies that you will find scattered throughout Ukraine, a glass will only set you back a couple of hrvina.
Weddings, Flowers and Admiral Nakhimov
Nakhimov Square is the venue of many parades and gatherings, and a favourite meeting place for the Tourist and Local people, however it is the local custom of newly married couples to place the wedding bonquet of flowers on the base of the monument...... The Admiral remarked that he would not leave the City "Alive or dead", and on June 28th 1854 whilst watching the French stated 'The French are shooting well today' he was then mortally wounded on the Malakhov Hill by a french bullet. He was buried in the vaults at St Vladimir's Cathedral on the Cities Centre Hill.
- Historical Travel
Cyrillic and the language barrier
Some travelers to Ukraine may find it a bit difficult to communicate and get around as most everything in written in Cyrillic only and it's one of the more difficult places to find people who speak English. This was our fourth trip to Russia or Ukraine, we never seem to have trouble even though we know only a handful of Russian words, we always are able to find someone who knows just enough English to help or you'd be surprised at how well you can communicate with just a bit of charades. After awhile you may even find that your brain can process the Cyrillic letters as long as it is spelled the same with the Roman alphabet.
The Cyrillic alphabet is very similar to the Greek alphabet so if you know that from math class or your college's fraternity/sorority system, you're already ahead of the game. It's very useful to know the Cyrillic spelling of the cities you are going to visit if you are going to use buses to get around, both the Bradt and Lonely Planet guidebooks had the Cyrillic spelling next to the city name.
I had a good laugh when I saw this blue water dispenser in the Naval Museum, a couple of other people were taking their pictures with it as if it were an artifact and I remember seeing them the 1st time we were in Ukraine back when it was still part of the Soviet Union but not on this trip except here. I found a picture of me from our trip in 1989 holding a glass next to one of them, back then I probably would have drank out of a shared glass. You put your money in and it would dispense seltzer water into a glass, if you wanted syrup it was a bit more. After drinking you placed the glass back on the machine which rinsed the glass before the next use. I didn't see them anywhere else but underground in the Naval Museum so I imagine that the machines are all now gone or relagated to museums.
Drinking and smoking
Drinking and smoking are quite common in public throughout Ukraine, I caught this young man doing both outside the bus station at around 9am. You would see people strolling or sitting in the parks with bottles of beer or mixed drinks that come in cans. It's a little odd to see coming from a country where it is prohibited to drink in public places besides bars and restaurants or controlled outdoor venues such as festivals.
A couple of websites I visited suggested that the drinking age in Ukraine is 21 but I find it hard to believe that all of the young kids I saw buying beer and other types of liquor at the supermarket every night were 21 much less 18, some looked like they weren't older than 14. If they have a minimum age to purchase alcohol, I doubt that it is strictly enforced.
Beer and cigarettes are quite cheap compared to the US where they are both taxed heavily, we saw packs of cigarettes and bottles of lower grade beer as low as 4 uah (about 50 cents).
You can't avoid the military when visiting Sevastopol, the harbor is home to a multitude of Ukrainian and Russian naval ships, there are 100s of monuments and statues commemorating Sevastopol's role in WWII and the Crimean War, many of the streets are named after military heroes.
We also saw a lot of young men in the city marching or walking around in their naval uniforms, it looked like there might be graduation ceremonies under way the day we were there.
Try to avoid any discussions...
Try to avoid any discussions about nationalities and Russian-Ukraine relationships. Crimea went to Ukraine in 1953 or so, and local people are not very loyal to the country they appeared in. So, any questions about why Russian and not Ukrainian are not welcomed. Do not bother with politics, just enjoy the scenery of the nature and militariness of the city.
First Day at school
I went with a friend to his former school, and it happened to be the first day at school for many new children, and perhaps a Mothers and daughters fashion parade!
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