David Lecomte (Australia)
A Ukrainian fan. I visit Ukraine every year
It is a great place.
Much better than the locals think it is.
Great people, who are very friendly, but who don't seem friendly.
Great food that seems not very exciting, but is incredible.
Great coffee, for the same reason the food is so good - because no-one there seems able to accept something that is not done well.
The locals have no idea just how good they are at producing things to eat and drink. Or designing planes, rockets, drones, ships, playing chess, and writing software. They are poor people, yet have an appreciation for education and intelligence that is embarrassing for most of us in the 1st world.
Despite propaganda from Russian-owned scam dating sites, Ukraine is not full of “supermodels” wanting to marry a foreigner.
Obesity is far less common, and in Ukrainian culture, women are likely to take more pride in their appearance than in most countries. Urban women in Ukraine are probably more like the women in Northern Italy, who also tend to take great pride in their appearance. The difference is that Ukrainian women are poor, so will have only 1 or 2 nice dresses instead of 10. And their dresses will be “knock-offs”.
Which brings us to another thing they don't tell you. You can buy almost anything you want in an open-air market. Very cheap. Dont buy in shops.
Visit as many fresh food markets as you can - they are incredible. Close your eyes when you do and just smell the food, and listen to the noise.
There are two places in the world where it is difficult to buy a bad meal. Northern Italy, and Ukraine.
It is difficult to travel amongst the villages, but it is well worth the effort. I am blessed with friends who have taken me to their village, or to the village of their mother, or their babushka. The villages are poor but they are so “real”. Dogs, geese, chickens, goats, pigs, bountiful vegetable gardens, walnut trees, grapes, many old women, not many men, curious children. Food to die for.
Try and see it before it disappears forever. Young urban Ukrainians tend to be a bit dismissive of all this, and cannot understand why a westerner would find it interesting.
Go to Ukraine. Eat, drink, meet locals, talk, eat, drink, sightsee, eat, drink. Try everything: try Kvaas, their gelati, their pizza (it is perfect - straight from Italy), their chocolateries, walnuts, Vareniki, shashlik, Borscht (you will never eat two Borscht that resemble one another by the way) - the list is endless.
Biggest warning of all - if you come here you will want to come again. If you do, you will become friends with locals, and then, you will become addicted, and come year after year.
David Lecomte (Australia)