Three years ago I with my friend got Schengen visa. During the next two and a half weeks, we were wandering around the Europe. We had been visited such countries as Hungary, Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, and Poland. Almost every day we arrived in a new city, met new people, swam in the Mediterranean sea, saw different styles of architecture and museums. Each of us had only 300 € in the pocket but in our mind, we had incredible wish to make your trip come truth.
04. 08. It was 15 20 than I run out metro like a bullet with rucksack on my back, packet with cake in hand and 300 E in pocket. Its just that I took for traveling in Europe. It promised be adventure. And adventures started right now! . Our train came in 15 24!!!!!!!! Tanja and her friend shouted me in a mobile that the train leaved from the first platform. I flew up to the second floor and horrified – there was second platform on the board, not first!
“Where is the first platform?!! – think I cried so loud that all people around looked at me. They pointed on the first floor. There were a crowd on the escalator but in some fantastic way I flied of them together with my baggage.
Some people ran somewhere to the right. By instinct I followed them, jumped in dark coach and shouted: “Does this train come to Chop!” (Chop is town on the boundary) Conductor said me something but I didn’t hear her. Only at thirst time I understand Yeas, this train to Chop. Yeas, yeas, yeas! I was ready to kiss the conductor.
05.08. After half day and night travelling we reached Hungarian boundary. Most people here speak Hungarian – very difficult for understanding language. But there were some Ukrainian women, who help us took tickets to Budapest. We passed boundary in small train. Hungarian guards looked like Germany soldiers. They looked fixedly to us, to our documents. Spoke in bad Russian. Asked where we going, and other stupid questing.“- We are going to Spain on invitation AEGEE. For camp in Alicante. – I explained, – AEGEE is youth organization”. And so on. At least they let us go.In Budapest some Spanish guy Diego (who I found by couchserfing) gave a warm welcome for us in his cool apartment. He was so nice that let us used his comp, eat foods, drinks, even when he leaved Budapest for some village next morning. He asked just put the key under the carpet then we leave.
Diego rent nice flat in the center of Budapest. The most attraction was huge balcony. I thank it can use for the party even. At night we eta in balcony, drank Hungarian wine and watch on our newborns. Thee guys in front had dinner too. They talked so loudly that all house can to hear then. Unfortunately, we understand nothing.
After dinner I made cake for us and our new friend. Than I finished Tanja fell in sleep. So I decided to walk night Budapest alone. The first I saw there were many young people walking on the street. It’s unusual for Ukraine. Here at one o’clock streets become empty.
Near hundred younger were sitting on the stairs of huge st. Stefan’s cathedral. In front of the cathedral there was nice narrow street with nightclubs. Its come to Danube river. I hear that Budapest very attraction at night but standing on the bank I was charm by its beauty. Whole city was in lights. There was Gothic palace on the other bank. Huge light bridge throw river.. Many big and small buildings in antic stile. It was really like in fairy tale. Like my dream from childhood…
06.08. I woke up at 8 o’clock by crying of our neighbors. They thought, if they wake up the same must to do whole house. I looked on my cake. Its seams delicious with chocolate cover. But something was missed. Nothing to do and I started to put nuts on it “Buda”. End didn’t fit so I write “pest” up. I really fell in love with this city.
Then Tanja wake up we walked to palace of Hungarian king. Now there are museum. Administrator was so pleasant that let us go in free as museum workers! It was so huge with four levels. Underground was the most attraction. Come down and down to cells there the Hungarian king took his enemies in ancient time. Other good surprised for us in Hungary were cheap and delicious food. Particularly, ice-cream, watermelon, milk.
07.08. We spend night in Budapest airport waiting for plane. There were so cold. Tanja sleep covered with carpet. I had nice conversation with some Hungarian man who left from London for home. He treated me London’s bananas and told that he work in London as a builder. His lovely religion family stays in small Hungarian village on the boundary with Rumania.
At last in 6 00 a.m. Wizzair was fling us to Spain. I have never seen so much water. Mediterranean sea… I afraid that our plan fell in it. Then plane stared getting down I see that sea is near. “Maybe we can go to swim first and then go to Barcelona – I thought. But … then the plane was on ground sea was so far).
In Spain the most attraction for me were palms. I have seen they only on pictures. And sun. Seems that its lights come through a sieve. Unlike in Ukraine there can be very hot in one moment and cold in other.
In Barcelona the first place we visited was museum of Picasso. Special for pure Ukrainians it was free that day. Near the metro we meet some polish people. Together we found Picasso museum. It situated on narrow and bright street. We stood in long line and listened street Spanish musicians. In hour we reached museum, administrator look on our bags and let us leave its. We were grateful.
Early works of Picasso are masterpiece! Maybe I am old stile but I prefer classical pictures. I remember picture Picasso’s father, his hands like alive.
After museum we come to the sea. We seating on the bank and under our legs swimming fishes. I never have seen so many big fishes. Ha=ha! It was real dream every Ukraine fisherman.
Near MacDonald we arranged to meet with some guy and girl from Prague who come to event too. These MacDonald’s were really helpful for us. Tourist office gave us map there all MacDonald’s were marked. So then ever we wanted in toilet, drink water or charge mobiles we come right there! Thank you American friend!
Prague people were so pleasant to take our bags for one night. We decided to make sleepless night. First, we together came to see light fountains. They were so wonderful! The huge light stream of water up and down. Light reflected in museum dome.
After show we say good night to other new friends and came to the beach. Was cold. Tanja said that she feel bad. So we drank a little gorilka (vodka) with blackberry that we prepare for European night in camping. Super! Our mood get up! In front of us some younger sings so friendly sings. I realized than I like these funny Spanish people.
Some blackman come to us. He spoke English, Spanish and African languages together. Do you want marihuana girls? – he asked. Because of economical crisis he lose his job and now his work is on the beach In the morning he offered machetes for vacationers and marihuana at night. Sometimes police seat on beach and hunting for marihuana sellers, but I can recognize them – he said.
This night we slept on bench. In Europe it’s usual. Many benched were occupied by decent people with bag. Maybe from our countries like Ukraine, they looking for job. First we afraid, but were so tired. Wandering like zombies came upon small park and fell on first beach! That night we slept alike deaths…
I woke up by smelling cigarettes. Two blackmen look on us and spoke about something. They seems suspicious so I became to wake up Natalya. But they apologized and even offered me cigarette! Ha- ha-ha! Nobody never offered me cigarette.
08.08. Early morning we came in park. How sweet parks in Barcelona! With cactuses, flowers, trees and parrots! We only pity that not found it at nigh. Real parodies for vagabonds!
All day long we walking in city and swimming in sea and in the evening we came to Martin – nice Spanish guy who I meet in couchserfing. He spoke Russian language very good. We felt like home in his small flat. We decided to prepare diner together so came to buy food for Ukrainian borsch. He showed us small shop there were many cheap fruits and vegetables. Its owner was some Pakistani. He looked on me like charmed. He asked: where you from?.- From Ukraine.
Have you been in Ukraine? He only said: Nice, very nice country… looking straight on me. These men really admire blond J From this time during our travelling we try to buy fruits only in Pakistani shops. In Alicante nice guy gave us date by free!Returned home we found that Martin hasn’t a big pot.- My flat is small and dish is small. – explain he. – My exgirlfriend took away all my dishes.So Martin came to rent dish in neighbors upstairs – old women from Peru.While we preparing borsch Martin told that he studied chemical in Harvard. There he met Russian girl form Kazan. It was stimulus for study Russian language.
He remembered with love his visiting Kazan, big family his girlfriend and especially Russian pies and cabbage soup.Martin was grateful for borsch. In Barcelona he buy borsch only in bottles in Ukrainian and Russian shops. Martin prepared for us real romantic diner – with candles, Catalonian wine and American ice-cream.09.08. Next morning we walked Barcelona like in native city. Mostly we spent day on the beach and in the evening before leaving Barcelona for Alicante come to see famous Sagrada Familia. This is gigantic cathedral. I remember it now. Its so attraction with mysteries figure of saints on facades…
Missing Barcelona, but go ahead, go ahead. waiting for us and more adventure. Night bus (which we used also like hostel) rushing us to Alicante. Its cost 40E and was full of funny people. We asked women with courtly manners and in high-heels change sitting. She agree with pleasure. Her new neighbor was imposing man. She try to talk to his but … he was so imposing that not took attention on. So she decided to find other sacrifice. Put her leg with high heel in entrance. So everybody must to note her leg
SUNNY ALICANTE !
Alicante, Alicante, Alicante! This sun city was found by Romans. Early morning we asked someone, where is the sea on bus station and we run to beach on the wavy-shape road. Beach was empty. We run, jump, laugh in the warm water. Than tired but happy we eating peaches, which have bought in Pakistan shop and at last felled asleep. I woke up by noise.
Opened eyes and see people around. Ha-Ha! All were pensioners! Grey-haired man read newspaper under the parasol beside.
After long asking we stand in our hostel. Organizer – funny Spanish guy – lodged us together with girl from Moscow. Every moment girls run to our room and shout: Girls, what you dress for the party? Have you seen these Spain guys?” its look like school camp.
I liked first party. Hundred people together, from different countries! All were cheerful. Mostly I remember funny high Spanish guy who always called me “friend”. And, August from Canaries island. As many local people August was good dancer. Then he dance, his yeas was bright. He said that dance always have to make people happy. Not to be serious, not think just dance. Think, our guys could learn many things there)
10.08. I remember party on third night. Was little boring so we decided to come to the local fortress and ask August come with us.
So lovely nights in Spain, castle! I never forget those narrow beauty Alicante’s streets. Its up and up to castle. Peaceful people sitting around tables and play in something.
After fortress we swam in sea and on back road sing Ukrainian songs for August, who was little frightened walking in night city.
At 6 a.m we got hostel hungry as a hunter. Decided to eat together. So I and Tanja took some candies and cakes that have prepared for back way and had breakfast on bench together with August, who was very happy
15.10. We took our bags and came to archeological museum. It’s so huge! Sent Petersburg’s “Hermitage” made exhibition of Scythians gold. ( 7 century BS. We have the same in my museum) Its really was a big surprise for us to see Russian objects in Spain! Entrance cost only 1.5 E. Cheaper then our museum in Kyiv. First we watched ancient life on TV, then go to exhibition. The most attraction was sunk ship. We up on it and saw amphoras (Greek dishes) inside. The most attraction in Russian exhibition there were big figure of gold deer and gold bowl which depicted scythes.
Our long way to Valencia
Came out the museum we tried hitchhiking to Valencia. First we walked to end of city. 2 p.m. It was really hot. In 15 minute our staying on road two funny Spanish guys stopped. They went only 10 km, then turn to the sea.In 10 minute other car stopped. It was man about 45 years old. He spoke only Spanish and we just understand that he is from Chilly. Hire in Spain I have little business. For describe his business he show on his chest some roundedness. We understood that he sell women’s underclothes.He invited us to stay in his home but we just said grazie and hurry to leave his car just he turn of the way.
We appeared near small road hotel. Son was hot. We hadn’t water. I came in hotel and asked nice girl administrator for give us some water. She was very kind and ask where we go from. You have to see her face than we said: from Alicante. She only asked: by walking?In some minutes a big black car stopped by us. Middle ages imposing man asked where we go and agree to take for half of road to Valencia. His car was great! Conditioner blow and up and down.- I am a doctor. By birth from Argentina but whole life live in France in Paris.He was very like heard, that we are from Ukraine. He have lovely women in Ukraine. Now he is in divorce process with his wife. In Spain he looking for nice place to buy house.
He ask would we like to live in Europe and really was surprising that we said that prefer Ukraine.)- Many women from Eastern Europe ask me marry them.This man was little banal but kind. Have known that we come to France he offered take us to Marcel on his road to Parish 19 August. It was really nice proposition but we going to be in France 18 August.Doctor offered us going to small village for rest and take some bus to Valencia. I can’t miss chance to see Spanish pueblo and although Tanja protested we go there.
He drove us to local supermarket and wished good lack. Supermarket was really cheaper then in Alicante. We bought there cheese Camembert for 1 30E, sausage for 1 80 E and bread. Bread is delicious in Europe but just when eat it fresh. In Ukraine we prefer black bread but here we have seen mostly white. Also we had some tomatoes from Pakistan’s shop. We sat right on grass between road and supermarket and had cool lunch!
After lunch walked narrow flowers streets, watched small shops. We stopped take water in pomp. There sat some pensioners and discussed about something vividly. I understand only that they talking about visit Papa in Madrid.
It became dark. We looked for lodging. Found a monument of ship and had idea sleep inside. But it was really high. So we came to beach. There were many cafés full of people. Many old women had dainty dresses and adornments. Place for sleeping we found near seaport on big hill. Grass’s smelling reminded me home. I looked on moon with stars and felt asleep. Early in the morning some calling woke us up. Tanja’s boyfriend asked us we alive or not. Yes, we alive and Spanish Mafioso not kill us
In the end of village we saw different work houses. Then there was farm of donkeys. We gave them some mandarins and they see us to the corner. They were really sweet but with sad eyes.
Then we passed fields. It became so hot like in desert. Here started plantations of grapes. First we not allow us to pick it. But further we have seen bicyclist, who stand straight on plantation and eta grapes. “Think that Spanish peasants not be angry much if pure Ukrainians take two bunch” – I said and picked it. Wau! It was so big and sweet. Likes a honey.) I have never tested such in Ukraine..
After fields trees started. Suddenly we have seen girls in swimsuits near road. In this cloth they stopped cars). Some bicyclists passed them and whistled. We passed them quickly. They only glanced on us sluggishly. Think girls in dirty cloths with bags wasn’t rivals for them
At list we reached high-way Alicante- Valencia. We stayed for 15 minute and some Armenian took us. First we try to speak English. He not understood. Parlate Russo? – he ask. Parlo, Pablo! O, it our man). He told that he live in Spain for 10 years. Work as a builder. He would like to take his son there but Spanish embassy not allows. He switched on Russian music. And we listened child song about frozen Russian New Year. Its in 40 degrees outside
In Valencia we came afternoon. Most of all I like shopping there. We bought nice dresses per 8 E each. Shipper then in Ukraine. Then I came back to Ukraine and dressed it and walking some old women on street said me : You so pretty in it. Like in Pushkin’s times.
There are many churches in Valencia. We visited the baroque cathedral where Holy Grail is saved. I took some photos of it for my college who research sacramental symbols.
Half of night we spend on the station waiting for bus. I lied on bench for sleeping but in half of hour guard woke me up. I decided to walk to Roman gate. It’s so gigantic… I walk a little on narrow streets but there were many suspicious people. So I quickly came back.
17.08. In Barcelona we was waiting for night bus. We left our bags in cloak chamber on station ( it’s cost only 3,5E) and run to known beach. At night came to say good bye to Sagrada Familia. It’s looked mystical in night light..
18.08. We are in Toulon! Buongiorno France! Took some photos near fountain with Apollo, eta Spanish sausage on station and took bus to San Trope. Road was so narrow. Between mountings and steep to sea. Exactly like in “Police de San Trope”. Bus droved too long. I seem that it’s come on circle. Ha-ha! At that time I understood why bus cost only 2 E.
Trusties say we were disappointment by San Trope. There is big port in city. On the station we meet two Russian women. They said that come here by but from Nice and tried to find beach. Came along port per 30 minutes. But then at list found see that in sea water hardly reach knees and dirty beach bad cost 10 E. But, we come to small local beach near port. Better then nothing.
Then walking on the narrow streets fulling rich Russian people. Not found old gendarmerie, have seen policemen but they didn’t like gendarme from film.
On the bus station conductor said that we have to go to San Rafael for rich Nica. Bus was full of different people. Driver – very cheerful man – asked everybody from where and where go.
We drove for thee hours! There traffic jam not better then Kiev. Road come along the beach, small sea towns and mountings. In every ten minutes bus stopped and Frenchwomen came in. I noted that they are not clothes so bright as Spanish ladies but look elegant. In some beach stop came in corpulent women in small black dress which just covered her big chest. She held huge basket. After joking with driver she put her basket on head of women who sited in front of me. Then didn’t listen her indignation fell on the seat.
Its become dark then we rich San Rafael. We decided to stay were. But where? Night on bench seem not very tempting. We saw Catholic сhurch but it was empty only orphan music made us more tired. I have seen some two stars hostel. Administrator – Caucasian looking man pitied as and offered one person room for 38 E. Elevator up us to highest floor and our mood up too. Room was under the roof with strong walls. We have to put two tear each on other for reach big window. It’s had white casements, similar I have seen in the pictures. This hotel was found in 19 century.
Just changed cloth we run to the beach. Only in San Rafael we understood what mean azure seashore. There water was so clear that can see seabed even in night. The beach was covered sellers who offered different magic thing. Turned merry-go-round with horses, elephants, camels. Similar to that I had in childhood…
In Nice walking in shopping district and Tanja bought there dreams of her life – perfume Chanel № 5 for 35 E.
In old city there are many nice small families shops – sweets, perfume, and decorations can by there.
Go to the Monaco! Some woman advice us come to casino. “You can play?” Yes, we can play but when we come back Ukraine walking
I like Prince’s palace. Everyone can walk near palace, in prince’s garden. Some guards stand there just for décor. Looking way back to train we meet three Americans. They were traveling around the world. Here in Monaco they supports to find prince or at least funny rich man – as joked one of them..
ON THE WAY TO UKRAINE – ITALY, CRAZY HITCH-HIKING IN POLAND!
Fifteen minutes – and – we in ITALY! A small nice town Ventimiglia. Was already dark, we walking streets and eat ice-cream. Nice music was heard from the park. Came in and saw small stage, dancing people mostly older ages. Some man Josef – invited me for dance. He speak only Italian. I tried to remind Spanish words .
“– Italy is molto buona. And Spain – molto buona. Yes, yes – he smiled joyfully. – Italy is molto buona.
I really was happy in company this joyful people. France seems me a little serious and glam stile. Although maybe I mistake. Some French couple, which visited my museum, said that south of their country now is occupied by rich people. For see real France need to go to deep of country.
In 12 o’clock music finished and we went father to the sea. Water was very clear there because many stones. Last swimming in Mediterranean Sea! We swam till felt cold, When covered in carpet and sat on beach, listened to sound of waves.
Then we came back to station town slept. Only some ducks swam in narrow river. In the station there were very many younger. They slept right on the floor. We set near train. Talked and laughed. Black curly guy listen us then asked : Are you Poles ? – Not we are Ukrainian.
He told used some Polish some English languages that his lover girl is Pole.. She is teacher in school. He works on this train and studies sociology in Rome. He has to pay many for studied. His parents live in Algeria and can’t help him.
He glimpsed on me:
– You are blond. My lover is blond too. – he smile. Probable, he miss her. She live in Poland but he don’t like lived there. – Was there. Brrr. So cold…
It was time to look for our train to Milan. We find almost empty and soft wagon made ourselves comfortable on the four sits and fell asleep.
20.08. Then I woke up was day. I saw strong walls some ancient city out of the window. Many people were around. Conductor said that this is first class wagon and we have to go to second class. Second class was full of people mainly black, but more warm.
Milan…On our way to center of this huggge city we arranged little breakfast on side of a road. While we chewed the rest of French sandwiches some man in “Fiat” stared on us and forget about road. In this moment his nice car run into front car and bend it. From that car rush women and became little ramble.
After cathedral I looked for Milan football club. My friend is crazy about Milan team and nice would be take something for him. I found firm shop “Milan” Small red shop between gigantic fashion markets. All was so expensive. Small key rings cost 2 -3 E. At least I found pen for only 3,5 E. My friend is scientist and such gift is prefect for his.
Felt hungry we bought sausage in market for 2 E. (it was so big that we finished it only in Poland). Then Tanja went to archeological museum. I came to ancient baroque church with wall painting.
Bus took us from Milano Central station to airport Bergamo for 10 E. Like on the railway station many tourists slept there right on the floor. Ha. ha! Like on orange revolution in Kyiv. It was two hour then we ate dinner, clean teeth in toilet room and fell asleep. In four o’clock local guard woke up us by crying: Ola, ola. They were cleaning floor.
21.08. We fly to Poland! How wonderful looked Alps mounting from plan! Then forests! First that I feel after leaving plan was wind. There isn’t wind in Spain.
In Catoviza airport we met Ukrainian guy and girl with big rucksack. They were going to music festival in Strasburg. We drank together some Cuban rum.
Then I and Tanja continued our traveling – stopped cars to Krakow and ate bilberries which found right near the wooden road. Poland seem for us motherland!
In 5 minutes some car stopped. Polish man said: no problem. And he took us to high-way. There we stopped some seller of the cars. He was great patriot. Said that took part in national party “Solidarnosty” in early 90. . He doesn’t like Russian. But Ukrainian likes very much. “If Russia not took Ukraine you would been part of Poland. We not discussion with him. In general he was good man. Our driver lived in village in 6 km from Krakow.
In twenty minutes some couple – girl and guy stopped. They go in direction of Ukraine. It was so late to go to Krakow so we decided go right to Ukraine! They have never been in Ukraine and want to go. I give them museum advertisement in cause they come to Kiev. They drove us near 90 km and said “good bye” near some village. There was local festival. Played polish band.
New car turned around and stopped. There was couple near 40 years old. They turned out so friendly! We gave them Italian pastries they – polish candies. Said that origin from western Poland and come for jas festival. She know Russian because learned it in school. in soviet union’s time. Her husband forgot Russian but some words he understood. He said that he used hitchhiking in youth. So understand modern hitch-hikers. Once he picked up four younger. They were from Latvia, Poland and Germany. Very funny company Was pity to say good bye this nice couple. I gave them last disk with Ukraine music.
It was hat. Even hater then in Spain. We hadn’t water and polish money to buy something. Nearly I found nice house and asked lady fill our bottles.
Just we started little lunsh other car stopped. Young couple took as. Then in 10 km to Ukraine blond guy in cook car took us!. Noisy music outvoice him. He said that he is Ukrainian by half. His mother is Ukrainian. He does different jobs. Basically, abroad. In Norway, Denmark and England. Many Ukrainian come to Poland and agree work for small money. And Moldavians who work only for bottle vodky.
He drove us right to the boundary. “-Here waiting Ukrainians who take you”.
It become dark. And Ukrainians not hurries help us. Cars went one by other. Some man stopped cars too. But he was so dirty that we thought not stand close to him. Some “Guguli” passed. Driver ignored our despair attempts stop him. But it incredible! He stopped near dirty man. We rush to the car. “ Please take us across the boundary. – we ask.
He was surprised that we speak Ukrainian. “The hill! You are Ukrainians!. Ha-ha! I thought that Gipsys stay! Am sorry girl but you are so dart as a real Gipses. Ha-ha!”
Pan Mukola was simple man. Speak western Ukrainian local dialect. He little cursed. Cursed state, government, frontiers. But .. He was Ukrainian! First Ukrainian that we met!. He smuggle cigarettes to Poland. In Ukraine cigarettes much more cheaper then in ES. He said that local inhabitants just to make a living by contraband.
Pan Mukola was amazed had known that we come from Spain. Soon all boundaries knew that pan Mukola drive two Ukrainians from Spain. Helped us pass passport control and boundaries found car for us. Yeas we have very good people in Ukraine. Pure but good.
The drive black jeep was big blond man. It was so unusual to see blond! He smile and said that he from Norway. Work as guarder in prison. Now travel by his car to Ukraine looking for good impression, good bear and beautiful Ukrainians women.
He was nice fellow. Told as about heavenly life in Norwegian prison. Norwegian prisoners eat four time a day, they have TV, internet in camera, can to go to gum, pool. They can work and have good money. Ha-ha! I ask him: How can come to Norway prison. “ Ha-ha – he pointed on him, – just ask me!
We came in Lvov at 10 p.m. Old, nice Lvov. After Europe it look so ordinary. We were ready to rush to railway station but first help our new friend find good hotel. He want hotel with good parking. It was problem. We visited two hotels in center city but anyone have safe parking. Finally we found hotel Kyivan Russ.. It was soviet stile hotel, but have parking and administrator shown us double room with modern interior. (Bed in single room was small for big Norwegian guy as he said)
O my God we do it! Traveled almost half of Europe and come back! In bus to station people looked on us and smiled.. We were crazy Sometimes I wanted to ask them something in English and then realized that we are in Ukraine!. We even weren’t very sad had known that train to Kiev will be only in the morning. Came to market (thanks God in Ukraine some market work all night long) Back to the station, had supper right on the flow near door and fell asleep here. I covered my face with cap. Who know, maybe some familiar pass me Woke up early. On my mobile was 5 30 a.m. Walking around. Once I looked on the wall’s clock. There was 6 45. I forgot put my clock forward one hour! We rush to train.
Waw.. It was so pleasure climbed to upper berth and fell asleep Woke up only then our train drove up to Kiev. I set near the window and look on the trees. All seems dreams. Like wasn’t Europe and just interesting dream. Noise station meet us, metro was full sleepy people. Welcome to Ukraine!