Krasilov ShtetLogo

This is a protion of the report, by Joan Adler and Bobby (Barbara) Furst, about a trip they took to the Ukraine in 2000

Chapter Four

Krasilov has one feature unique in the area. There is a Renault repair shop here. The man who owns the shop also owns the 20 room Paradis Hotel. In it he houses the mechanics who come from Germany to fix cars in his shop and the people who come from all over Ukraine and Russia to get their car repaired. We were glad this man was so far sighted. The hotel was very comfortable in a Danish modern/European sort of way.    

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Two unique photos: The sign for Krasilov, unusual because it is so large. The photo on the right is also unusual because the person watching the cow is middle aged. Otherwise, we saw this scene repeated hundreds of times. We worried about the quality of the milk if the cows were eating grass so close to the side of the road. Most of the cars, buses, motorcycles and trucks spewed thick black smoke.



This is the town square in bustling downtown Krasilov. The building to the right of center is Town Hall. The building to the left of center is a community center with a restaurant on the top floor. While we were there, a wedding was going on at this restaurant. We heard singing and laughter. Alex explained that the wedding could go on for two or three days and that everyone at the wedding would do the singing. There would probably be no professional entertainment. The guests would provide their own entertainment. Joan wanted to see it but she was discouraged from interrupting the wedding. At various times, wedding guests and the bride and groom would come out of the building and stand on the steps. Joan was satisfied that she got to see the outfits of the bridal guests and we were all pleased to see happy people enjoying themselves.


In between these two buildings (photos on the previous page) you can see a statue of Lenin. It is actually in the center of the square but the perspective makes it look like it is between the buildings. Alex was unhappy to see a statue of Lenin anywhere and clearly showed his displeasure every time we passed this one. To the right of the community center/restaurant there is a wall with bas relief sculptures. (See the photos below.) Alex told us these depicted traditional folk stories. They have to do with harvest, family and love. To us the pictures seem almost Thai or Asia.








Our wonderful Alex Dunai, without whom this trip would not have been possible. He was a constant source of information, inspiration and humor. To say we learned so much is a gross understatement. He taught us about the culture, the history, the people, the religion, the language, the literature, the art. Need we go on? 



Paradis Hotel and Restaurant, Krasilov Ukraine. That’s what it says. Our room was on the top floor. Our dormered window overlooked the main entrance. You can just about see our dormer under the last part of the floral design on the right of the emblem on the brochure pictured here. Our room was comfortable, clean and, most important, had running water and a shower. We were in heaven.  Our beds were actually one bed with two mattresses, down pillows and a down comforter. We are both allergic to down and slept with a towel over the pillow each night.

Since it was in the high 80’s every day, and only cooled down to the 60’s or 70’s during the night, we were very warm. One could either use the comforter or nothing. No top sheet or light blanket. Of course, there was no fan or air conditioning. Well, we wanted to “experience” Ukraine and this wasn’t the worst we expected. There was no screen on our window. We tried to keep it open as long as possible, but spent the last few minutes of every night killing the myriad of flying insects that decided to join us. The yellow walls looked polka dotted by the time we checked out.

The staff at this hotel was unbelievable. There was a room across from our room where a woman sat all day at either an ironing board or mangle and ironed everything used in the guest rooms including the towels. When we left the room to go to breakfast, she immediately came in and cleaned the room and changed the linens. The last few days we were there, the hotel ran out of tea. Joan would sit down at our breakfast table, realize she’d forgotten to bring down her tea bags from our stash of essential supplies, run up the three flights of stairs to get one, and the room would be half clean. The woman always looked fresh. She was always beautifully dressed, and never seemed too hurried or tired. She was often in the room across the hall, ironing, until after eight o’clock at night.

The hotel has a restaurant. Since there aren’t many restaurants anywhere else, we ate breakfast there and dinner there most nights. One of the first questions people ask us about our trip is if there was enough to eat and what we had to eat. So we will tell you about the food.

There was a breakfast waiting for us every morning when we came downstairs. We would tell Alex what time we wanted breakfast and we suspect he told the hotel staff. We always found the table set for the three of us. There was a plate with slices of cheese, ham or kielbasa and some kind of sausage-like meat. The meats differed many days. Some tasted like summer sausage. Some tasted like Jewish salami. There was always a basket of sliced breads. Some days there was light brown bread and some days the bread was a light yellow. We don’t know what any of it was but it was always very good. One day we were served jelly. Most days there was butter. There were usually brown eggs, often soft boiled but sometimes they were sunny side up or in omelet or frittata form. If we didn’t ask for a specific kind of egg, they just chose for us and served one whatever way they liked. There was usually fruit yogurt, European style. It is not as sweet as our yogurts and that was fine with us. We could order coffee or tea until the tea ran out. Once or twice we were served juice. One kind was called multi vitamin but it was actually a blend of mixed fruits. Another time we were served peach or pear juice. We came to realize that the food supply was spotty. They served us what they had but they didn’t always have everything. We never went hungry and we always felt the food was fresh. We didn’t worry in the least about getting sick.

During the day, we are not in the custom of eating lunch. The breakfasts filled us up sufficiently that we would forget about food and wouldn’t remember to offer to feed Alex. He never complained. Two or three days, he asked if he could stop at a store to buy something to eat. We were embarrassed that we hadn’t fed him. There is little one could buy but he found cookies, crackers, bottled water and sometimes Coca Cola.

One day, toward the end of our trip, we realized we hadn’t eaten any of our emergency stash of food including the peanut butter or crackers. So we suggested we have a picnic. We’ll tell you more about the picnic later. At the end of the trip, we gave our leftover food to Alex.

We toured the villages all day, returning between six or seven, exhausted, filthy, and happy. After a few minutes to clean up and go to the bathroom, we’d meet in the hotel dining room for dinner. The dinner menu was extensive but not everything was appealing or available. Ukrainians eat lots of meat – usually pork and very fatty cuts. There was also beef on the menu and the chicken offered was almost always chicken legs. Joan asked why they didn’t serve more breast meat and Alex explained that, years ago, when George Bush was president of the US, he sold our surplus frozen chicken legs to Russia. Now the people have a taste for chicken legs and continue to import them.

Very often we ordered fish. There was trout and sturgeon and haddock on the menu. The area also has many mushrooms and so the food is often prepared with a mushroom sauce. Potato pancakes are a traditional food so we ordered them several times. We could also get mashed or French fried potatoes and sometimes rice. We were most surprised to find salads on the menu. Every night we had a salad of cucumbers, red peppers, tomatoes and/or cheese in a very light vinegar dressing. It was really delicious.

One night, we saw a man at the next table eating something out of what appeared to be a bean pot. Joan decided she needed to know what it was. Alex told us he was eating pirogies and that they are usually very good, a traditional Ukrainian food. We both decided to order them. They come stuffed with cheese and can be ordered either sweet or salty. We had one order of each. We found the sweet to be too sweet and the salty to be too salty. We asked for a large dish, poured both servings into it, mixed the sweet and the salty pirogies together, and ate a really strange dinner that night.

The restaurant (RESTAURAN in Ukraine) was also a bar and they have live entertainment most nights. The band had two keyboardists, a violin or fiddle player and a singer. They were excellent. Alex told the musicians we were Jewish, Americans, and were enjoying their music. They played Hava Negila for us. Alex told us this song is often played at Ukrainian weddings. He knew all the words, even though he is not Jewish.

Twice, because we had eaten elsewhere, we had dessert at the restaurant. We taught them to make chocolate ice cream sundaes just the way we like them; no whipped cream and lots of chocolate syrup.

Truly, throughout out trip, we found virtually everyone working very hard to accommodate our every wish. No request seemed too difficult or unusual. We found no hint of anti-Semitism or anti-American sentiment. If it was there, it was so well hidden that we could not detect it. Perhaps Alex protected us from that, but we don’t think so. We think the Ukrainian people are kind and generous and warm, wonderful people.

Okay, enough. Back to Krasilov. After dinner our first night in Krasilov we walked around the town. You’ve already seen a photograph of the town square so you know this is not a thriving metropolis. But it is a fairly large village. It is on the South Bug River (That’s the English transliteration of the word. The Ukrainian word is pronounced “BOOG” and the first letter actually looks like a spider). The approach to the village parallels this river. It is charming. Then one goes around a traffic circle and is confronted with apartment houses, the market (RENOK in Ukrainian) and some stores before approaching the deserted town square with the large statue of Lenin in its center. There is a dahlia garden in front of this statue but the rest of the square is so barren and bleak, the flowers do nothing to brighten up the area.

The hotel is about half a block from this square. After dinner, we walked around the town. After seeing the wall with the folk art sculptures and the community center/restaurant with the wedding, we walked down some of the town’s streets. We came across the building in the photograph below, which is a school. Outside the building there are two statues. We photographed one, of a girl. The other is of a boy. Alex told us these symbolize the youth movement every child was expected to join during the Soviet era: a sort of communist utopian ideal that starts with the indoctrination of the children.


We also saw a bulletin board with photographs and blurbs about workers who were being singled out for their hard work. These photographs were at least ten years old but nobody had bothered to take them down. They were from the Soviet era. The square had a large building that was the local administrative office, Town Hall, with the Ukrainian blue and yellow flag flying outside, and a movie theater, but we saw no sign that it was being used.

We were tired from our long day traveling and learning and couldn’t wait to lie down. We agreed to meet Alex in the dining room for breakfast at 8:30 the next morning. We were in bed and asleep before ten.


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Copyright © 2008 Barry Chernick