Ivano-Frankivsk,  Ukraine

Escaping the war in Eastern Ukraine

Ivano-Frankivsk
Yulia Ostrohliad
Banosh

The Place: Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine

“The snow brought respite to my eardrums, muffling the noise and allowing a stillness to take hold of the city. Voices echoed across parks, crows cawed while they circled above, and wind swayed creaking branches as artificial sounds, for once, receded into the backdrop… the capital of the Carpathian region balanced the tranquility of a town with the vibrance and character of a city, giving me time to catch my breath and for my senses to recover after my last two stops in Ukraine.”

Read About Ivano-Frankivsk

My feet crunched on a snow-covered path as I wondered along the edge of a lake near the centre of Ivano-Frankivsk; a buzzing attraction in warmer months, but now barren and frozen solid, extending towards a row of bare, skeletal trees on the other side. Led by my host, Taras, we picked up the pace as our toes and fingers slowly numbed and began to ache in the frigid January weather.  In winter, the subtleties of a city are obscured by a blanket of white, so when I arrived in Ivano-Frankivsk, or “I.F.” as locals call it, I struggled to shake the sensation that I was in a “little Lviv”. That feeling was reinforced by the fact that, after a foray into true soviet architecture in Kiev, I’d return to the familiar ambience of the former Austro-Hungarian empire. But where Lviv’s clamour, a barrage of car horns and screeching tyres from traffic, never seemed to relent, Ivano-Frankivsk was enveloped by a shroud of silence. For the first time I found myself appreciating winter more than I resented it.  The snow brought respite to my eardrums, muffling any noise and allowing a stillness I hadn’t yet experienced in Ukraine to take hold of the city. Voices echoed across parks, crows cawed while they circled above, and wind swayed creaking branches as artificial sounds, for once, receded into the backdrop. In the calm, fairy lights twinkled at nightfall around a tree that had long overstayed it’s official tenure in the main square, bizarre sculptures made from twisted metal protruded from paving slabs and, despite the quiet in the streets outside, cafés, bars and restaurants were packed full of people escaping the cold; the capital of the Carpathian region balanced the tranquility of a town with the vibrance and character of a city, giving time to catch my breath and for my senses to recover after my last two stops in Ukraine.


Please note that we do not fact-check our interviewees, and that their views do not necessarily represent our own.

The Person: Yulia Ostrohliad, 36, P.R. Manager

“I was born in the Eastern part of Ukraine, in Lugansk… I left in 2014 because the war was about to rage; there was this sensation and we managed to leave after Crimea was annexed, just before the war raged in my city, which was Summer 2014…”

See Yulia's Full Background

I was born in the Eastern part of Ukraine, in Lugansk. There is war there now, so I left in 2014 because the war was about to rage. There was this… sensation. We managed to leave after Crimea was annexed, just before the war raged in my city, which was Summer 2014. I left at the beginning of June, just a couple of weeks before it started. I came here, to Ivano-Frankivsk, which was a completely random choice. I had nowhere to go. I have relatives in Russia, but I could never imagine living in Russia after those events. So despite the fact that they offered me a flat to rent, I decided to stay in Ukraine. I just opened a map, and drew a straight line from Lugansk directly west, which took me to Ivano-Frankivsk. And I packed my bag and moved. I’d never been here before. Thank god I had a profession, because I continued teaching English here. When I came here it was Summer, and I was looking for a job.

Now I work as a P.R. Manager for a non-profit organisation which operates all over Ukraine which works in the sphere of informal education. My education is as an English teacher and interpreter, and after graduating university I was offered a job as an interpreter at that same university, so I stayed there for 7 years. Life has been surprising. I was in love with the theatre, and I started communicating with the head of the theatre here and doing some interpreting for them. I worked for them at the international festival of modern art which is hosted annually in our city, and then they offered me a stable job as a P.R. manager.

 

What does ‘home’ mean to you?

The place where I used to live is not home anymore, because it has changed. There is nowhere I can return to there. ‘Home’ used to be my apartment, my house.  Now we don’t even have our own apartment, so there’s not even this little place for me to feel home…”

See Yulia's Full Answer

I guess the concept of ‘home’ for me is really an obscure one; very vague. Previously I would give a clear answer, probably, but now there is no place quite like home. The place where I used to live is not home anymore, because it has changed. There is nowhere I can return to there. ‘Home’ used to be my apartment, my house.  Now we don’t even have our own apartment, so there’s not even this little place for me to feel home. Moreover, the attitude towards life, and the attitude towards belongings and property has changed for me so radically. So I don’t even think that it’s a good idea to stick to a particular place or object, or even a person. Nothing is stable in life, everything is so changeable, and if you are so in love with something, you might lose it in just one moment. Now I kind of feel free from all this, so I can’t give a true definition of ‘home’.

Did many people sense that the war was about to start?

“…we sensed that something was going to happen a year-and-a-half before it happened, because we watched the Russian TV channels and every week they would show something negative about Ukrainians, calling them ‘Ukrainian Nazis’.”

See Yulia's Full Answer

One day, a couple of dozen guys with weapons invaded some authority buildings in the city. They say “they invaded” but it was like 20 people. How could they invade by force? They were not all armed, they had just a couple of machine guns. I guess they were probably let in so they could occupy the local authority buildings. They said “we will protect you”, because there was propaganda that in Western and central Ukraine they said that there were people called “banderas”, who want to eliminate the entire Russian-speaking population in Ukraine. They said they were like Nazis. On all the Russian TV channels they would just show these videos showing that these ‘bad guys’ were preparing for an invasion, that they were already on the train and the next day this train will arrive, and that they will kill all the men and rape all the women. Actually, we sensed that something was going to happen a year-and-a-half before it happened, because we watched the Russian TV channels and every week they would show something negative about Ukrainians, calling them ‘Ukrainian Nazis’. So they were preparing the population for it morally. And then after the revolution when they said “these bad guys have rebelled, and now they have power in Ukraine”, people believed that, because they were being prepared for so long to believe it. The majority of people were scared, really scared. But there were no Nazis, there was no train full of armed people who would rape all the women and eat all the babies – they would show on the news people who said they witnessed guys in Ukraine eating babies! So people were afraid. The guys with weapons who took the authority buildings said “we’re here to protect you from these bad Ukrainians.” But more educated people understood what was going on.

 

I personally was waiting for the Ukrainian army, or some force to stop those guys, just to take their weapons or something. But one week went by, and two weeks, and nothing was happening! More and more buses with these guys would arrive, and then they took the jailhouse, and released people from jail, gave them weapons. Where did they get the weapons? When young men turn 18, they all have to serve for one year in the regular army. So there are these places where they train, and some guys invaded that place, took all the weapons and gave those weapons to ordinary people, some of whom had been released from jail. Like some of our neighbours, we knew that they were in prison and then we would see them with a machine gun standing in the road, ‘protecting’ us from Ukrainian Nazis. So we were still waiting for the troops. But at that time we didn’t have a president; he had fled Ukraine after the revolution, and there hadn’t been any new elections yet. And for that time, there was no legal president. There was someone who stood in, but maybe he wasn’t certain about what to do. It was an unstable period, and during that period everything happened. So then I left, and you know what happened. Many tanks and other military cars with the Russian military invaded, and the war started. Our friends stayed there and they witnessed that, and they told me about everything. The Russians took our two points on the border, and through them they let all these military cars, tanks and trucks with weapons. Then after the election of the president, they started this anti-terroristic operation, but it was already too late; so many soldiers had already invaded.

 

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What is different about Ivano-Frankivsk?

“The mentality here is very traditional and religious… There is too much disapproval of things like homosexuality. The mayor might say things like “a homosexual person cannot be a patriot” or something.”

See Yulia's Full Answer

That I can answer, I’ve reflected on that a lot. Being a stranger in a city, being an alien, you see all these details. One thing is it’s a very cosy city. I wouldn’t even call it a city, more of a town I guess. People know each other. Whoever I meet, we have many common friends. People make friends easily here, and are very communicative, so it’s easy to start a conversation with anyone. That’s probably because the majority of the population comes from the villages of the region. Even last week, I saw a posy on Facebook from another citizen of Ivano-Frankivsk saying “Is there anyone who is at least a second-generation resident of Ivano-Frankivsk? Please let me know, I want to find someone whose parents were at least born here!” People in villages are closer with each other, and that’s why they are still closer to each other here in Ivano-Frankivsk.

The mentality here is very traditional and religious. But not religious in the sense that people are really God-fearing and try to keep to their values and things, but it’s just about the rituals. Like “our parents would go to church, and we have to go to Church”. Because of that, on the one hand we do not have such high moral standards, but on the other we disapprove of things which appear to us to be…. There is too much disapproval of things like homosexuality. The mayor might say things like “a homosexual person cannot be a patriot” or something. So we are kind of pseudo-religious. It’s very hard for modern art, since I’m now working in this sphere, to be introduced here. People disapprove. If they see for example a naked performer in a performance that is so brilliant it will give you goosebumps, people only see a naked person and say “oh my God, we are a religious city and there is a naked person on-stage! We have to get the holy water! It’s the politicians that do it most, because it’s easy to get support by saying these things. They know that the population is religious, and they capitalize on that. They know that it’s popular to say that “we have to exile the modern artists to preserve our traditions”, and so on.

What have you learned from living in Ivano-Frankivsk?

“The values that I had are not values anymore, and other things have become valuable… . I never felt as secure as I do now, and that sounds strange and illogical, but actually I now know that I can rely on myself, trust my gut feeling, my intuition.”

See Yulia's Full Answer

My attitudes have changed because of the situation. The values that I had are not values anymore, and other things have become valuable. After I moved, I understood this saying “Omnia mea mecum porto”; “everything which is mine I carry with me”. This is an old Latin phrase. Now I really I understand that. What is important for me now is my values, my skills, my experience. Experience not just in work, but in communication, thoughts, feelings. ‘Experience’ in the widest meaning of this word. It’s important what book I read, to walk the streets, to risk; to leave a job and plunge into something absolutely new and mysterious. Maybe previously I wouldn’t dare do that, but now I know that nothing is stable, and the more different experience I have, the more secure I feel, because if you put all your eggs in one basket, then someone might take it away from you.

 

I started experimenting so that I’d be free to move, not only places but in mind as well. I never felt that free and happy when I had everything; when I was financially secure, and I had a big house, husband, job, prospects in career. I never felt as secure as I do now, and that sounds strange and illogical, but actually I now know that I can rely on myself, trust my gut feeling, my intuition. I don’t remember the last time I disapproved of something or somebody. Nowadays I feel that everything has the right to be, and everyone has the right to be the way that he or she is. If someone does something we consider bad, they have some reasons to do that and we should try to understand why. With that, it’s much easier to live; I don’t take offence, I don’t hold negative feelings over someone. I live freely and different situations give me different experience. There is no bad or good experience; there is experience.

Where’s your favourite place outside of Ukraine?

I haven’t travelled a lot. People from Eastern Ukraine travel very little. There are some statistics that say something like only 8% of people there have ever been abroad. Very few. People even rarely travel to other regions of their own country, or outside of their home cities. My father lives in Russia, and I have only visited him there twice.”

See Yulia's Full Answer

I haven’t travelled a lot. People from Eastern Ukraine travel very little. There are some statistics that say something like only 8% of people there have ever been abroad. Very few. People even rarely travel to other regions of their own country, or outside of their home cities. My father lives in Russia, and I have only visited him there twice. Since I moved to Ivano-Frankivsk, I have been to Berlin for a couple of weeks, to Armenia and that’s it. So among those many places, I would say Berlin. I loved it, I would love to stay there longer. It’s the city of contrast. It’s so diverse. There are some traditional districts with old buildings and museums where it’s interesting to stroll, and fairs with street performers and then there are some districts with their own subcultures. The first year after I moved here I had some training there, and I stayed in a hostel and I went to eat, and I saw one guy on the street walking a dog who I asked for directions. It turned out he was the Russian ambassador! So yeah it’s an interesting city because of its diversity, and also its freedom of speech; maybe its even a bit too much!

Can you think of a time you have been proud of Ivano-Frankivsk or Ukraine?

That was Maidan in 2013/14… When the first people were killed… one of the churches in Kiev started tolling the bells… They are very special bells; the previous time they were rung was in the middle-ages several centuries ago, when the Mongols invaded Ukraine. It’s a special style of tolling bells that signals an alarm.”

See Yulia's Full Answer

That was Maidan in 2013/14. All the people gathered because they knew that students were beaten by the police for just standing on the square and singing Ukrainian songs. They didn’t do anything violent. They just stood there to show their position; that they don’t agree wth the president. The president deceived the nation, so they were expressing they didn’t like that, but they were just singing and having fun. My friends were there, and I saw videos. It was very peaceful. There was a group of Berkut (S.W.A.T.), and they came and beat them. People, now in the age of the internet and social networks, saw that and within a couple of hours overnight, one-hundred thousand people gathered on the main street, it was totally full!

 

When the first people were killed in February, one of the churches in Kiev started tolling the bells. All the people heard those bells. They are very special bells; the previous time they were rung was in the middle-ages several centuries ago, when the Mongols invaded Ukraine. It’s a special style of tolling bells that signals an alarm. People heard it and understood that it meant danger. So thousands more people rushed to the streets. Young people were there, one of my friends was wounded. But still they stayed. They protected each other. They knew that the less people there were, the easier it was to suppress them. But a big mob of people would be hard to suppress. We call it the ‘Revolution of Dignity’.

Some people say the war started because of the revolution. Do you agree?

My father, who lives in Russia, told me one year before these events, that salaries for the military was raised 2-3x… When he told me what the salary was of the most junior soldier, it was several times higher than mine… I was sure they were preparing for war it would have started later anyway, maybe after the following elections.”

See Yulia's Full Answer

 As I said at the beginning of our conversation, I guess the situation was predictable, and was even directed by the Russian authorities. My father, who lives in Russia, told me one year before these events, that salaries for the military was raised 2-3x. He said it was so good for young boys to enter the military educational establishments and so on. The salaries have always been higher than other professions, but they raised it 2-3x on top of that. When he told me what the salary was of the most junior soldier, it was several times higher than mine. I said “but why?” He said “oh, you know, the military are the elite of this country, and our country respects them.” I started reflecting. They spend so much of the budget of the country just to respect? But at that time, I thought maybe they were preparing for a war with China! I was sure they were preparing for war. I thought, America? No, it’s too strong. Europe? No. Then maybe China. But I never thought Ukraine. We were friends. We’re sisters and brothers. And one year later it happened. Half a year later, again this would happen. When people say the war started because of Maidan, technically that’s true in a way. But it would have started later anyway, maybe after the following elections. So that’s why it happened when it happened.

Have you noticed many positive changes since the revolution?

“In the parliament, it’s still the same people. The same pieces are on the chessboard. They’re in different positions, but they are the same.”

See Yulia's Full Answer

How can we see positive changes when the war is raging?  I think in the broader scope, Maidan will bring positive changes. People now understand that they are not slaves. They can demand things from the authorities. Everything depends on the authority, though. In the parliament, it’s still the same people. The same pieces are on the chessboard. They’re in different positions, but they are the same. So I guess Maidan was just one step; the first step, where people realise that changes are possible and believe in themselves. Now the second step should be to change those people in parliament. But how? Its complicated. We need time. Any evolution needs time. I guess in the long run it will bring positive results despite the fact that so many people have died, and keep dying. I hope it’s not in vain.

What is your main concern or worry about Ivano-Frankivsk and Ukraine?

People keep dying, many people cannot return to their homes. I guess that the people that all of these problems depend on are profiting from the situation. War brings good money for those who trade in war. Its profitable for those who can stop it to keep it going.”

See Yulia's Full Answer

That it will take us a longer time to fix this system. Of course, there are concerns of different scope. Now this urgent concern in Ukraine is war. People keep dying, many people cannot return to their homes. I guess that the people that all of these problems depend on are profiting from the situation. War brings good money for those who trade in war. Its profitable for those who can stop it to keep it going. But regular people suffer.

 

So the biggest concern is about the changes and how long they will take to happen, because this war depends on it; on how soon or late new people will take positions that will enable them to take positions in government where they can make decisions about it. But it should be new professional people. Right now there is a comic and actor running for office, and he’s a new face so many people will support him, but I still think it should be a professional. That’s a problem, because you must be a professional, but out of that circle. How do you find someone like that? They are all there. They all have these links and connections with business. So I guess that’s why the change will not happen quickly. The war will not end soon. Even if this active stage stops, the situation will still not be stable.

What are some of the differences between Eastern and Western Ukraine?

In Lugansk, people were waiting for the government to do something when the war was starting. They were waiting for the authorities in Kiev to send the troops or something. People had more trust in the government. But here, people take action. They rely on themselves more than they rely on the government.”

See Yulia's Full Answer

Maybe this is an unpopular opinion. From my personal perspective, Western Ukraine is closer to Europe and Europe is considered to be liberal now, So I thought that after moving to the West of Ukraine, I would see more freedom, people would be more liberal in their thoughts, and I thought Ivano-Frankivsk would be more European than my city of Lugansk. But, in fact, I would say that the lifestyle in Lugansk is more European – not liberal because of the authorities. We welcome modern art there, we have a kinder attitude to homosexual people. I felt like we were more concerned about being better professionals and cooperating with each other. I don’t feel that Ivano-Frankivsk is more European in that sense. It’s more conservative.

Despite the fact that those events with the war happened in Lugansk, there is less critical thinking in the people in Ivano-Frankivsk. Because here it’s like, “there are traditions, so things should just be like that.” Critical thinking is when you don’t just take things at face value. Like “the bible says this.” You must ask “why?” You must interpret the bible, it’s not a dogma. Let’s analyse. In Lugansk I went to church, and I asked these questions. I found information about the time when the bible was written. And then I could understand that maybe it had different interpretations in the past. But here people just say “the bible says this.” But despite the fact that in Ivano-Frankivsk people have less critical thinking, they are more active. In Lugansk, people were waiting for the government to do something when the war was starting. They were waiting for the authorities in Kiev to send the troops or something. People had more trust in the government. But here, people take action. They rely on themselves more than they rely on the government. So you cannot say that something is better or worse, but for me less critical thinking is a little worse, but active citizens is better.

Do you remember much from the communist era?

“If you wanted to buy some good sausages or cheese… you had to have friends that worked in the shops… who’d secretly let you in through the side door and sell you the goods. You had to have these connections if you were a woman and wanted to buy perfume.”

See Yulia's Full Answer

I was a kid during the soviet time, and then a teenager during the transition period. The first thing that pops into my mind when I think about that time is sweets from Poland and jeans. In the black market during soviet times you could purchase jeans for like three salaries! After it collapsed, you could easily go to Poland and buy jeans there and afford it. Jeans skirts, jeans pants, jeans coats. Too many jeans. Then there were bright clothes and bright and eccentric hairstyles. In soviet times, people had to look almost the same, and tried not to be different. So they had these dull colours. All the cuts for clothes were approved on the state level. So if you wanted to look different, you had to go to a tailor. But a tailor had to know how to make a dress for a woman that would look different. So you had to get from somewhere a foreign journal or magazine, and see the clothes in it, and take them it to the tailor. My mother was a fashion enthusiast, and she liked these special tailormade clothes. She would be very different from others. Now it’s hard to be different from everyone, but then you just made a pink dress with a different cut, and you were different.

 

But the times were hard. The financial situation was bad. Many, many people lost jobs, especially those who worked in industrial plants and factories. So they started going to Poland, buying jeans and sweets, bringing them back and selling them in marketplaces. Also university teachers and doctors lost jobs, I’m not sure why. Imagine you were a professor, and suddenly you become a market seller, and you go to Poland with these big bags, buy jeans and sweets or whatever, and then stand in a market and sell them.

 

It wasn’t easy to buy the things you wanted, because there were very limited numbers of products in the shops. Food, clothes, whatever. If you wanted to buy some good sausages or cheese, for example – now these things are normal but back then they were special for us – you had to have friends that worked in the shops. The administrator or the executive or something, who’d secretly let you in through the side door and sell you the goods. You had to have these connections if you were a woman and wanted to buy perfume. It was almost impossible. There were these simple soviet perfumes, like two or three kinds, and all the women had the same smell. If you wanted French perfume, you had to have that connection, and you’d buy it secretly for like half your salary. “Deficit” was a very popular word in soviet times. My mother would come and say “I bought some deficit!” It meant she bought something like cheese or coffee.

What do you eat during the Holidays here?

…a kind of porridge called Kutya. It’s made of different kinds of grains. In the East, it’s traditional to make it with rice, but here it’s traditional to make it with oats. So in different parts of Ukraine it has different basic ingredients.”

See Yulia's Full Answer

We have this special dish, a kind of porridge called Kutya. It’s made of different kinds of grains. In the East, it’s traditional to make it with rice, but here it’s traditional to make it with oats. So in different parts of Ukraine it has different basic ingredients. It has raisins, honey and poppy seeds. It’s sweet. There must be 12 dishes on the table. There is a period before Christmas where you don’t eat any meat. At the climax of this period, we have a big supper without meat. The next day we have holodets. Here in Ivano-Frankivsk, they know all these traditions because they are religious and very traditional. But in the East of Ukraine, maybe some families know these rules, others know just that there must be 12 tasty dishes; With meat, without, it doesn’t matter!

What is your favourite Ukrainian Dish?

Ukrainian food is tasty. Maybe it doesn’t have as many flavours as the Armenian food, but it’s tasty. I love barszcz, varenyky, holubtsi…”

See Yulia's Full Answer

My tastes change so often, and I do not derive that much pleasure from eating lots of different foods. Ukrainian food is tasty. Maybe it doesn’t have as many flavours as the Armenian food, but it’s tasty. I love barszcz, varenyky, holubtsi. If you’re just talking about Ukrainian food, I guess I love everything. I cannot say that there is something that I don’t like.

Reccomendation:

“Banosh is this cornmeal with cottage cheese. It’s very delicious and it’s a local tradition. People from central Ukraine don’t know anything about it. People from Eastern Ukraine have never heard of it.”

See Yulia's Full Reccomendation

Banosh! Banosh is this cornmeal with cottage cheese. It’s very delicious and it’s a local tradition. People from central Ukraine don’t know anything about it. People from Eastern Ukraine have never heard of it. It’s maybe the most delicious one for me. It’s from the mountains. It’s cornmeal with cottage cheese and some pork fat. Bacon. It’s cut into little pieces, fried and overcooked, then added to the rest. Banosh is boiled in sour cream. That’s the secret. It’s not boiled in water and then combined with butter. No. You have to stir it all the time while cooking it. If you boil it in water and then add sour cream or butter, then it’s a different dish.

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The Plate: Banosh

“…close your eyes, and you could imagine you were sitting by a fire high in the carpathian mountains, the wind howling outside, eating a meal cooked for you with the only ingredients available in the area.”

Read About Banosh

Eastern European cuisine rarely seemed confined to one particular region within a country. Pierogi managed to spread to every corner of Poland (and Ukraine in the form of Varenyky), as did barszcz and Zurek. In an interview with Kajtek Grzelka, in Wrocław, Poland, we discussed the loss of Polish identity through war, and how conflict has crushed many individual pockets of culture within his country. Those affects extended to regional dishes, since many local Polish customs and traditions have been lost to history books. From my perspective, it seems this rationale could also be applied to Ukraine. For such a huge country, food, traditions and culture seemed more similar to one another than they should be wherever I went, and I couldn’t help but wonder if some of it had been lost through the countless conflicts the country has endured. So, I was intrigued when I learned that I’d be reviewing a dish that, finally, is exclusive to just one region in particular in Ukraine; the Carpathian mountains.

Food in this part of the world isn’t always award-winning in it’s appearance, but I was surprised by the vibrance of the meal set before me on a ramekin canvass. Bright yellow cornmeal stood in stark contrast with the dark brown of nearly-charred pork glistening with fat that held it clumped together, and countered my stereotypes of dull and heavy slavic cuisine. It’s flavour? Not quite so enthralling. The cornmeal itself seemed mostly devoid of taste, but derived a strange sweetness from the sour cream it was boiled in. The pork delivered a harsh saltiness which became a little too intense after a while, but was muted by the optional addition of cottage cheese. After trying a spoonful of the cornmeal alone, I understood why the meat was intentionally overcooked; it’s crunchy composition was the meal’s only source of texture. Without it, the ingredients would blend into a structureless blob with the consistency of porridge.

I found myself appreciating the local significance of the dish and the unique way it was cooked more than the flavours themselves; close your eyes, and you could imagine you were sitting by a fire high in the carpathian mountains, the wind howling outside, eating a meal cooked for you with the only ingredients available in the area. Although it didn’t totally win me over on my first encounter with it, banosh is a fabulously strange and unique dish that is certainly worth trying, and it’s clear that it has a special place in the hearts of many that live or grew up in the Carpathian region, and I felt lucky to stumble across an entirely local delicacy that has stood the test the test of time in Eastern Europe.


Thoughts? Leave a comment down below!


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The 2014 Revolution & Christmas
You may also be interested in:  Speaking Russian in Lviv, Ukraine

Attempting to cycle from Tromsø in Northern Norway to Baku, Azerbaijan while interviewing locals en route. Despite my chequered history with bikes, here’s to me returning home with an intact facial structure and at least as many body parts as I left with.

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