A Ukrainian insight: Odessa, Lvov and Donetsk

Кто лучше и красивейшая в мире?

I heard this sentence in Odessa, or better say that I caught it from a not so much incomprehensible speech as expected. And no, it was not in the street. It was stated by the evil character in a White Snow performance for children. At the Opera House. Definitely, Odessa is a cool and cultural city, perhaps the most one in Ukraine. Its singular history is very noticeable for those curious people that wonder about the names of the streets. Founded by Tsarina Catherine the Great in 1794 as a way to open the Russian Empire to new naval routes in the Mediterranean Sea through the Black Sea, the old quarter of the city pays tribute to some of the most famous governors it had. Jos? de Ribas and Richelieu have commemorative streets in the city centre, being especially crowded Deribasovskaya street, full of caf?s, restaurants and shops.

The Catacombs are considered the largest in Europe, with more than 2000 kilometres of not always connected tunnels under the city. They were greatly helpful to the brave Soviet soldiers who decided to fight the Nazi invasion of the country during the Second World War. Before that, they were used by smugglers to make pass prohibited products through the severe laws of the time. Many people still think that when catacombs were fiercely closed after 2nd WW, many treasures remained all along them, encouraging the bravest adventurers to secretly enter them with the promise of a better living thanks to its discovering.

However, perhaps the most beautiful city in Ukraine is Lvov. Its fascinating history confers a special status to this city. It was once possession of Poland, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Russia, which is clearly visible in its buildings and urban design. Just walking along its paved streets is a gift for everyone’s eyes, and the most relaxed attitude of its inhabitants incites to a long stop at any of its endless amount of cheap caf?s to admire the beauty of its panorama and the easy-going walking of people.

Cultural and beautiful cities, so, that cannot, however, beat ours. Donetsk, with almost no cultural offer in comparison to Odessa, and far away from Lvov’s beauty, nice avenues and parks, means a totally different thing. City of miners, working people live here, so the attitude of its inhabitants is more rushing, faster, with no time to stop and gaze at the particularly charming places it offers. A totally different philosophy about how life should be, stereotypes about the rudeness of its people are just so, stereotypes. Everyone who has ever worked in Raduga, schools or Shiroki knows that you can also find nice people here, where marshrutkas’ drivers seem to be aggressive, feeling that they are doing a favour to you when they yell the name of your bus stop, can also be very cooperative, helpful and polite when asking kindly for 50 kopeks to make giving your change when paying much easier. For our new volunteers coming this week, whom I will introduce to you very soon, I would recommend to enjoy the diversity of Ukraine to better understand the differences of its people, and to let that the rhythm of the city traps them to understand why everything is moving so fast. Only then you will be able to enjoy the stops.

Bye for now,


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