|This is a protion of the report, by Joan Adler and Bobby (Barbara) Furst, about a trip they took to the Ukraine in 2000|
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.
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
down to the 60’s or 70’s during the night, we were very warm. One could
use the comforter or nothing. No top sheet or light blanket. Of course,
was no fan or air conditioning. Well, we wanted to “experience” Ukraine
this wasn’t the worst we expected. There was no screen on our window.
to keep it open as long as possible, but spent the last few minutes of
night killing the myriad of flying insects that decided to join us. The
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
mangle and ironed everything used in the guest rooms including the
we left the room to go to breakfast, she immediately came in and
room and changed the linens. The last few days we were there, the hotel
of tea. Joan would sit down at our breakfast table, realize she’d
bring down her tea bags from our stash of essential supplies, run up
flights of stairs to get one, and the room would be half clean. The
always looked fresh. She was always beautifully dressed, and never
hurried or tired. She was often in the room across the hall, ironing,
after eight o’clock at night.
The hotel has a restaurant. Since there
restaurants anywhere else, we ate breakfast there and dinner there most
One of the first questions people ask us about our trip is if there was
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
suspect he told the hotel staff. We always found the table set for the
us. There was a plate with slices of cheese, ham or kielbasa and some
sausage-like meat. The meats differed many days. Some tasted like
sausage. Some tasted like Jewish salami. There was always a basket of
breads. Some days there was light brown bread and some days the bread
light yellow. We don’t know what any of it was but it was always very
day we were served jelly. Most days there was butter. There were
eggs, often soft boiled but sometimes they were sunny side up or in
frittata form. If we didn’t ask for a specific kind of egg, they just
us and served one whatever way they liked. There was usually fruit
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
juice. One kind was called multi vitamin but it was actually a blend of
fruits. Another time we were served peach or pear juice. We came to
that the food supply was spotty. They served us what they had but they
always have everything. We never went hungry and we always felt the
fresh. We didn’t worry in the least about getting sick.
During the day, we are not in the custom of
The breakfasts filled us up sufficiently that we would forget about
wouldn’t remember to offer to feed Alex. He never complained. Two or
days, he asked if he could stop at a store to buy something to eat. We
embarrassed that we hadn’t fed him. There is little one could buy but
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
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
was extensive but not everything was appealing or available. Ukrainians
lots of meat – usually pork and very fatty cuts. There was also beef on
menu and the chicken offered was almost always chicken legs. Joan asked
they didn’t serve more breast meat and Alex explained that, years ago,
George Bush was president of the US, he sold our surplus frozen chicken
Russia. Now the people have a taste for chicken legs and continue to
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
prepared with a mushroom sauce. Potato pancakes are a traditional food
ordered them several times. We could also get mashed or French fried
and sometimes rice. We were most surprised to find salads on the menu.
night we had a salad of cucumbers, red peppers, tomatoes and/or cheese
very light vinegar dressing. It was really delicious.
One night, we saw a man at the next table
out of what appeared to be a bean pot. Joan decided she needed to know
was. Alex told us he was eating pirogies and that they are usually very
traditional Ukrainian food. We both decided to order them. They come
with cheese and can be ordered either sweet or salty. We had one order
We found the sweet to be too sweet and the salty to be too salty. We
a large dish, poured both servings into it, mixed the sweet and the
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
violin or fiddle player and a singer. They were excellent. Alex told
musicians we were Jewish, Americans, and were enjoying their music.
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
like them; no whipped cream and lots of chocolate syrup.
Truly, throughout out trip, we found
working very hard to accommodate our every wish. No request seemed too
difficult or unusual. We found no hint of anti-Semitism or
sentiment. If it was there, it was so well hidden that we could not
Perhaps Alex protected us from that, but we don’t think so. We think
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
town square so you know this is not a thriving metropolis. But it is a
large village. It is on the South Bug River (That’s the English
of the word. The Ukrainian word is pronounced “BOOG” and the first
actually looks like a spider). The approach to the village parallels
river. It is charming. Then one goes around a traffic circle and is
with apartment houses, the market (RENOK in Ukrainian) and some stores
approaching the deserted town square with the large statue of Lenin in
center. There is a dahlia garden in front of this statue but the rest
square is so barren and bleak, the flowers do nothing to brighten up
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 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.
|Return to Home Page|
Copyright © 2008 Barry Chernick