Pysanka – Ukrainian Easter Eggs

I know it’s not travel related.. or maybe it is, but I spent Sunday learning the Ukrainian art of creating Pysanka, the traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs…

Setting Up

 Setting Up

Cleaning Eggs with Vinegar

Cleaning Eggs with Vinegar

Well, painted is a misnomer anyway because the eggs are not really painted..They are created by drawing the designs with wax and then soaking them in dye.. It is called the “wax-resist” method or batik.  Some people just start with wax and draw the design but, as novices, we drew ours with a pencil first..

The Pattern




Then covered the penciled drawing with the wax using a stylus .. The cup of the stylus is filled with black wax and heated over a candle..

Heating the Wax

Tracing with Wax

It takes a steady hand, which means I probably should not have had 3 cups of coffee before starting .. Then it is soaked in the dye for the 1st color.. starting with lighter colors first..

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Into Yellow

Leaves will be Yellow



Areas of your egg that you want to remain that color are then waxed over before being soaked in a different color dye

Preparing for 2nd Color


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And the process continues until you have finished with all the colors that you want to have on your pysanka egg.. the darkest, background color being left for last..

1st Attempts Finished


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MessyIt is messy and time consuming but also a lot of fun.. it took me back to the days of decorating Easter eggs.. And I know I will try this again..


Happy Travels!!

Photos by me (Steven Liveoak) , Iryna Gashporenko and Elena Galay



An Afternoon in Kiev – Pirohiv

Pirohiv (Ukrainian) or Pirogova is an outdoor museum of Folk Life in Ukraine..  It is located in the southeastern part of the city.

Wooden Church

Wooden Church

It is laid out in sections, each dedicated to the architecture of it’s respective region.. The buildings were brought from all over Ukraine and carefully reconstructed to give just a glimpse into life in the villages..

Windmill on the Hill

Windmill on the Hill

The surrounding area is covered in wheat fields and windmills..

Wheat Another WindmillEach “region” has it’s on’s own church

Wooden Church 2 Small Wooden Church Beehives - I Think

The cottage yards are full of flowers and fruit trees

Storage Cottage Garden Folk Home w Church


You can even find musicians playing authentic instruments

Musician Strings


Feel free to give it a try


On the outer edge of the area, there is food, drink, and, of course, souvenirs…

Milking a Wooden Cow Traditional Ukrainian Shirt-Vyshivanka

Food Alley


It is an interesting way to spend a pleasant afternoon in the country, without ever leaving the city.. Entry fee 30 uah (about $3.00 USD)  .. if you want to park close to the entrance, be prepared to pay a 20 uah fee for the parking lot.. OR  get there early to park without a fee on the side of the driveway..  It opens at 10 AM..closes at 5:00 PM

To get to the museum from metro stop  Demiivska or Golosiivska, you can take the trolley bus №11, marshrutka 172 or 156

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Yanukovich’s Palace – A Monument to Avarice

On Saturday, we took the 30 minute drive up to Mezhyhirya, where the ousted president of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovich, had built and maintained an opulent manor.

Main House

                                               Main House

The estate is over 350 acres and situated on the banks of the Kiev Reservoir, also known as the Kiev Sea.

Shoreline of the Kiev Sea

                                           Shoreline of the Kiev Sea

The immense park-like grounds are entirely surrounded by a fence and criss-crossed with brick inlayed paths..


           Brick Path

                                                           Brick Paths

The grounds around the main house, yes, there are several houses for guests on the property, were immaculately manicured

Main House 2

and filled with ponds, fountains

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and statuary.


There is a golf course, which we saw..


and a zoo..which we didn’t..

The buildings had been sealed so we weren’t allowed inside, unfortunately..




We did look through the windows of the Galleon, a restaurant shaped like a, well,

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a galleon..

The gazebos which dotted the countryside are fitted with chandeliers



I am not Ukrainian, but I live and work in Kiev, and  looking at this place made me angry.. and sad.. A monument to corruption, greed and avarice built with contempt for the Ukrainian people.

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I think some visitors felt the same as I..


Entry fee ( the signs call it a donation but it is an entry FEE ) is 20 uah.. there are bikes for rent, which I recommend because the area covers 7 km on paths. If you want to see what corruption can, and often does, build and you can overlook the fact that a common slug


                                      My Opinion of Yanukovich

(umm thug) from Eastern Ukraine stole billions of dollars to build it.. it’s worth the trip from Kiev..

According to the security people, they may re-open the buildings once a complete inventory is finished..

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Bykivnia Graves Memorial – Kyiv, Ukraine

Crosses in Shadows

                                     Crosses in Shadow

About 15 km east of the center of Kyiv, on the road to Brovary, there is a historical monument that few in Ukraine know about..

Bykivinia Graves National Historical Memorial

                      Bykivnia Graves National Historical Memorial

Hidden, a half kilometer inside the thick pine forest, is the Bykivnia Graves National Historical Memorial. This memorial is dedicated, and located at, the former village of Bykivnia, and was the site of the mass graves of political enemies of the Soviet Union during the Stalinist purges of the mid 1930’s.

Sunburst over Crosses

                                             Sunburst over Crosses

These unmarked mass graves were actually discovered by invading German forces during WWII.  There is an estimated 30 – 100,000  victims that were buried here. Victims of Soviet propaganda, Polish Army officers executed during the siege of Warsaw in the 1940’s… and as many as 20,000 officers and intellectuals in the Katyn Massacre.

Path through the Forest

                                           Path through the Forest

While it is easy to blame the Soviet Union and the Stalinist Purges, it is known that the German army also used the site for burial of Ukrainian Nationalist and army officers captured during the war.

Polish Victims Wall of Names

                        Polish Victims Wall of Names

Mass Grave MonumentIron Crosses by the Highway

Iron Crosses

Iron Crosses 2

If you plan a visit to Kiev, Ukraine, take some time to visit this memorial. Along with Babi Yar, it is a grim reminder of humanity’s troubled past.. Take time to explore, to examine, and to remember.

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Shot of the Day – Dniper River

Dniper River

                                                           Dniper River

Standing at the observation point near the “People’s Friendship Arch” in Kyiv, Ukraine, gives you a perfect view of the Podil and the Dniper River below.  The Dniper Is Ukraine’s longest river and flows through the center of the city..

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Shot of the Day – Hedgehog (in the Fog)

Hedgehog (in the Fog)

                                                   Hedgehog (in the Fog)

Near the center of Kiev, Ukraine, sitting on Reytarska Street, near metro station Zoloti Vorota and the Golden Gates, is a little statue of a hedgehog; carved from wood and adorned with 500 screws as spines..

If you are a fan of the Russian movie, Hedgehog in the Fog, you would recognize the star of that animated film. It is cute, quirky and well worth a visit

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Shot of the Day – Hero Cities (Kyiv)

Hero City Monument

Hero City Monument

Just west of Shuliavs’ka metro stop on Prospekt Peremohy, you will find the columns naming the Hero Cities of World War II.  Kiev was awarded the title “Hero City” in 1965. Sharing this small plaza is the T-34 Tank monument, erected in 1968 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the liberation of Kiev by Soviet forces.

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Afternoon in Kyiv, Ukraine – Babi Yar

Menora Babi Yar

 Menorah in honor of Jews executed at Babi Yar 

Walking on the cobblestone, brick and, sometimes dirt and gravel, paths of this huge sprawling park located adjacent to Dorohozhychi metro stop, you would never guess that you are walking through a memorial to some of the worst atrocities of World War II.

Babi Yar, located in Kiev, Ukraine, was the site of a series of massacres by German forces in their war against the Soviet Union. In total it is estimated that between 100,00 and 150,000 people, of all ethnic groups were murdered here.  The most famous (or infamous) of these purges occured on Sept 29-30, 1941 when 33,771 Jews were executed in the ravine and buried in a mass grave.

Wooden Cross Babi Yar

The Syret’s concentration camp was also located here. The inmates at Syret’s were typically Soviet prisoners of war, Ukrainian nationalist and, of course, Jews.  These prisoners were forced to build funeral pyres to cremate the bodies of those executed at Babi Yar to cover-up what had happened.

Menorah Flowers

 Menorah Flowers

Entrance to Babi Yar

Monument to the Murdered Ones –  Babi Yar



Monument to Romanian Victims at Babi Yar


Babi Yar National Monument


Cross to honor Ukrainian Poet : Olena Teliha and 620 Ukrainian                                               Nationalist killed at Babi Yar


621 Ukrainian Nationalists were murdered at Babi Yar,                This cross was erected in their memory

DSC_9060 DSC_9075_panorama Wooden Cross Babi Yar 2

Jewish Memorial Plaque - Babi Yar

Jewish Memorial Plaque – Babi Yar


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Shot of the Day – Bald Mountain (Kiev, Ukraine)

Bald Mountain

                                                Bald Mountain Meadow

Lysa Hora (Ukrainian: Лиса Гора; Russian: Лысая гора ), commonly called Bald Mountain is a wild forest area located in the southeast corner of Kyiv, Ukraine..

In early mythology, like so many other “Bald Mountains”, it was a gathering place of witches..

In the late 1800’s the Russian army built a small fortress here, that would,later, be used for executions of convicted political prisoners. Other than several culverts, cut through the earthen walls, and underground water tanks, nothing remains. It is now part of a nature reserve and part of the Kiev Fortress museum.

Sunset on Bald Mountain

                                             Sunset on Bald Mountain

It is a wonderfully quiet and pretty place to escape the noise of the city.. easily reached by marshutka or metro and is just a short walk from Vasylkivska station.

Kyiv From Bald Mountain

                                    Kyiv Skyline from Bald Mountain

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Shot of the Day – Metro Station Tetralna (Kyiv)

Early Morning Tetralna


Kyiv, Ukraine has 3 metro lines that cover most of the city.. At 2 UAH per ticket it is a very economical way to get around..and definitely the quickest. Of course, they are also very crowded, unless you want to brave the early morning hours.. This is the Tetralna station at 5:50 in the morning, completely devoid of people. That’s unusual because the metro systems averages 1.5 million people a day.

The Kreshatic stop and the Maidan stop are the only two I have actually been told by police that I couldn’t take pictures.

You can find a metro map here … Arsenalna station is one of the deepest in the world at almost 350 feet (105 meters).

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