Category Archives: Mostly Tourism

But in south Ukraine there is a small village where some people still speak an old version of Swedish.

Not everyone, even in Sweden, are aware of its existence. But in south Ukraine there is a small village where some people still speak an old version of Swedish. Gammalsvenskby (Old Swedish village) is its name. Stockholm News paid a visit to the village in late June this summer.


Since sometime during the 14th century, a Swedish population had lived on the island Hiiumaa (sw: Dagö ) in present day’s Estonia. In 1781, the Russian empress Catherine the Great decided that they had to be moved. With a combination of threats and promises, she made the population walk the long way (more then 1000 km) to the village Zmejevka north of the Black Sea.

Around thousand people started the march. Only half of them reached their goal, the rest perished from hunger, cold or diseases. On the arrival they learnt that the empty houses they had been promised were not empty at all. One year after arrival only 135 where still alive, but during the coming decades, their number started to grow again.

Over the years, the Swedish population kept their Swedish identity and their Swedish language. Since they were isolated from a linguistic point of view, their version of Swedish did not develop as in Sweden. They still speak rather similar to 18th century Swedish. Gammalsvenskby is therefore a goldmine for linguists.

Road Trip to Zatoka, Ukraine

Road Trip

Zatoka Ukraine is a crazy mix of folksy village life — grandmothers, gardens and laundry drying in the sun — and touristy beach culture.

It’s on a narrow strip of land that forms a barrier between the Black Sea and a small gulf at the mouth of the Dniester River. Both sides of the narrows roads were crowded with people holding signs that read “sdaiem” or “renting”. They seem to sit there all day in lawn chairs, wearing sun hats. We choose a hotel instead, just 100 m from the beach.

The beach was small but clean with soft sand that made wading into the Black Sea very comfortable. It was located at the gap in the land — the one opening to the Gulf.

We watched a draw bridge working. And also the two cranes by the single doc on the other side of the gap. Over the course of a day, they loaded a huge barge with lumber. When it sailed, another barge took its place, two tug boats assisting its arrival.

Like the nerd I am, I read all about Black Sea marine life before the trip, and imagined Angel Sharks, Cat Sharks, all sort of rays, and more. Did you know there were Ukrainian-specific species? The “Ukrainian brook lamprey” and “Ukrainian stickleback.”

In the water I saw tiny fish, little fish, and one jelly fish about the size of a fist.

We only made quick trips to the beach because our little boy would start fussing, though during one early-morning trip he remained perfectly calm and seemed fascinated by the waves. We took turns swimming.

Before our return, we detour to the right bank of the Dniester River, into Ukrainian Bessarabia.

Did you know that Shabo was not just a brand of Ukrainian wine, but a Ukrainian town surrounded by vineyards where the wine is produced? We visited their shop, and a gorgeous cottage-style restaurant, where our boy remained alert and calm — I want to believe this is a sign of budding good taste.

We drove further up the right bank to take a very quick look at the castle in Bilgorod-Dniestrovsk. The shorter route back to Kyiv would have involved passing through Moldova for 7km and then through the Lower Dniester National Park. Were it not for my wife’s Ukrainian passport, we might have tried it. Instead we backtracked all the way to Zatoka, then past Odesa and up to Kyiv.

I remain utterly charmed by the names of Ukrainian villages: Cold Water, Oaks, Crooked Lake, Similar, Old Lighthouse (which is inexplicably located dozens of miles inland), Little Mill.

Ukraine’s roads are improving, but still have a way to go. I bottomed out, scraping our car’s undercarriage five or six times, once on the main highway between Kyiv and Odesa.

I’ve enjoyed watching the progress of Ukraine’s gas stations during my time in Ukraine. Some of them draw visitors for their restaurants rather than their gas. They’re a sign of what a competitive (partially competitive) market can do. Shell is the one international petrol company with stations in Ukraine, but they’re all empty. Their gas is one or two hryvnias more expensive, and I wonder if they’re burdened by some dishonest requirements imposed by Ukraine’s corrupt regulators.

Every road trip, I’m reminded of Ukraine’s beauty and potential. Just north of Odesa, there are gorgeous lakes with seemingly no infrastructure for visitors. The rolling Eurasian steppe offers breathtaking vistas, where it seems like you can see forever. I kept thinking: “I want to put a home here.”

Ukraine’s Lomachenko knocks out Martinez for WBO title

Vasyl Lomachenko turned a Puerto Rican celebration into a Ukrainian holiday with a brutal knockout of Rocky Martinez to take the WBO junior lightweight title Saturday night.

On the eve of Puerto Rico Day, two-time Olympic gold medalist Lomachenko was dominant. Scoring with vicious left-handed leads, he connected on four straight, including a precise uppercut in the fifth round. Lomachenko followed that with a stunning right that flattened Martinez, who remained on the canvas for several moments.

Vasyl Lomachenko, left, of Ukraine, knocks down Roman Martinez, of Puerto Rico, during the fifth round of a WBO junior lightweight title boxing match Saturday, June 11, 2016, in New York. Lomachenko stopped Martinez in the fifth round. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

red poppies on the statue of Mother Motherland in Kyiv

#Ukraine’s very tragic and complex WWII history does not fit neatly into any of the myths which major power have built.

10 mountain climbers placed a wreath of red poppies on the statue of Mother Motherland in Kyiv for Remembrance Day, on May 8.

The sculpture was built in 1981 on the territory of the WWII History Museum to commemorate the victory of the Soviet Union in what was called the “Great Patriotic War.”

Today, it wears this crown of poppies, the symbol of remembrance, to remember all the victims in the war, and to recall that the war didn’t start in 1941 when Germany invaded the USSR, but was predated by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, following which the USSR itself invaded a number of territories, having agreed with Nazi Germany to carve up Europe.

The director of the Institute of National Memory Volodymyr Viatrovych says that the communist hammer and sickle will be removed from the statue till the end of the year.

Last year, the wreath was placed on the statue by famous roofer Mustang Wanted.

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Women’s Chess Championship Concludes in L’viv

I hate to say it, but it seems L’viv did an embarrassingly poor job with this tournament. Just look at this:

Squeaky floor, clicking cameras, strange people milling about, some distracting nonsense about children making the opening moves, body scanning the players without privacy, no crowd control.


FYI: Ukrainian defending champion Mariya Muzychuk lost to challenger (and former champion) Hou Yifan, 6 points to 3.