We could have gone almost anywhere on a vacation in 2013. There were still so many countries that we hadn’t visited yet. Eastern Europe was open and the idea of exploring former soviet areas was intriguing and mystical. The sound of places like Odesa, Crimea, Kyiv, and the Black Sea brought images of dark times, spy stories and the cold war. We flew to Kyiv and then spent 17 days discovering the incredible places and people of Ukraine, the largest country in Europe. Though we hadn’t planned it this way, the day after we arrived in Kyiv was the Ukrainian Independence Day celebration. On August 24th 2013 they were celebrating their 22nd year of independence from the Soviet Union. Parties, decorations and events were everywhere. We traveled from Kyiv to L’viv to Odesa and on to Simferopol in Crimea. Little had we known what was to come.
Maidan Nezalezhnosti - Independence Square in downtown Kyiv
Optimism during the preparations for the celebration. August 23, 2013.
Statue of a starving child titled, Sad Memory of Childhood." Holodomor Museum, Kyiv.
This child at the entrance to the Museum behind her greets visitors. The Museum documents genocide, particularly the Russian campaign in 1932-33 to starve Ukraine. People leave flowers and food at her feet.
Welcome to the Holdomor Museum.
We stumbled on to this museum by accident. It featured videos of living histories when we visited. The personal stories they told of genocide were all very similar and heart breaking.
A grandmother sells her needlework.
She was one of many people selling crafts and other things near the Museum of the Great Patriotic War.
Metro station near the Holdomor Museum.
Metro stations are now bomb shelters and residential buildings are targets.
A pause in a walk in the park.
Near the Museum of the Great Patriotic War.
Contestants run the triathlon on Independence Day.
They were running next to the Dnieper River where we later saw them swimming.
Saint Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery
Originally built in the Middle Ages, it was destroyed by Soviet authorities in the 1930's and rebuilt by the Ukrainians in the 1990's. It is just north of Maidan.
An afternoon in the park.
The Golden Gate of Kyiv, one of the original city gates.
Originally built in the 11th century, it was partially destroyed by the Golden Horde in 1240 and fell into disrepair. This one was built in 1982.
Beautiful music in the park.
Music is everywhere in Kyiv.
Traditional instruments on Independence Day.
They played traditional music on traditional instruments near Maidan on Independence Day.
Strolling through the park near St. Michael's.
St. Andrews Church, Kyiv.
Constructed between 1747 and 1754.
Even traditional music in the flea market.
Just below St. Andrews.
Love in the flea market.
This couple has a table full of characters watching them. Just below the steps to St. Andrews Church.
Choosing shopping over music in Maidan.
Young driver in Maidan on Independence Day.
Surveying the Dnipro River and beyond on Independence Day 2013.
Celebrating independence in Maidan, Kyiv's main square.
A photo opportunity.
Above the celebrants in Maidan on Independence Day 2013.