Tag Archives: Western Europe

Coffee and Coffee Shops in Poland and Ukraine

Warsaw in summertime.
Warsaw in summertime.

Below I review of some of the coffee and coffee shops I tried and visited in Poland and Ukraine.

Poland

Sowa in Bydgoszcz, Poland
Sowa in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

First is Sowa, a small chain of stores started in Bydgoszcz and spread around Poland. Depending on the store you go to, the ambiance and decor will be different, though the prices are similar in every store. The first was at ulica Mostowa 5 is more properly called a Confectionary Shop, Wine Bar, and Restaurant. The restaurant closes at night but the wine and coffee bar stay open serving small appetizers and desserts. A pianist played classical music which greatly enhanced the already romantic and luxurious atmosphere. The second place right across the street (ulica Mostowa 4), has a large, naturally-lit cafe area but no late-night wine or coffee bar. I liked this one cause I could sit by the window and watch people. Not only that, these cafes don’t just serve up regular cafes, they make their own. Some are served with alcohol, others not. Overall, highly recommended for both the coffee and atmosphere.

The Bookhouse Cafe was probably my favourite cafe I visited in Warsaw. Located on Swietorkryszka Street just around the corner from the Oki Doki Hostel. The atmosphere was laid back and had a bookish feel. Can you guess why? It was located right beside a bookstore! Their double espresso was generous but sold for the same price as other coffee shops in the area. Internet was free, but limited to 1 or 2 hours. As for alcohol, only wine was served. Tried one of their wraps, the chicken one I think and that was pretty good. Never tried any of their desserts.

Wedel's in Warsaw.
Wedel’s in Warsaw.

I should also mention that if you’re looking for a neat cafe and chocolate shop in Warsaw, head to Wedel’s Chocolate Lounge where you can sip your espresso and sample any number of their pralines served on a silver platter. 😀

Finally, the chain stores. Coffee Heaven, iCoffee, Empik Cafes and the foreign entries Costa Coffee and Starbucks all offer a similar experience… clean, uniform, and comfy business-like atmospheres supported by pretty good drip coffee and espresso. Lots of places play jazz music over their stereo but don’t offer any live music. All had free internet. Exclusively Polish were Cafe Trakt, near the Royal Palace, it looked good from the outside but was kinda small on the inside and the coffee was only so-so. Biegu w Cafe is also a chain store, but is some sort of quasi-cafe/pub. They serve up all sorts of dishes and also serve alcohol. Though a nice place for a date, the serving sizes, unfortunately, don’t match up with the prices.

Lastly, for a picturesque cafe culture, head to Krakow. I preferred a place called Momento’s in the Kazimierz District on Plac Nowy. Though not a cafe strictly speaking, it had a neat atmosphere, good food, and double as a cafe and pub. Free WIFI to boot. Other than that, Krakow itself, like Lviv in Ukraine, offers a great atmosphere in which to sit back, enjoy great coffee, and watch the world go by.

A view from a Lvivian cafe.
A view from a Lvivian cafe.

Ukraine

If Ukraine is a country in transition, so is it’s coffee culture. More renowned for vodka than anything else, instant coffee seems to be the de facto standard here. However, “natural coffee”, that is, ground coffee beans, is becoming more popular. Cost is usually the biggest different, “natural coffee” is about double the price of instant. While living in Kharkiv I was able to find very good natural coffee from all over the world. If you’re not a coffee aficionado and don’t care to be, the supermarket offers good Ukrainian coffee under the name of Zhokej. Most of all I enjoyed their dark roast (the black packaging) but their orange flavoured coffee (the orange pack!) also tasted pretty good. Although I don’t usually drink flavoured coffee, Zhokej’s orange flavoured coffee was a delight to smell walking into a room. That being said, who knows how or where they got the orange flavouring from.

Zhokej coffee line
Zhokej coffee line. From left to right: Hazelnut, Dark Roast, Caffe Italiano, Medium Roast, Classic Roast, and Orange Flavoured.

If you are a coffee connoisseur or wish to be, your best bet to find coffee beans from all over the world is Dom Coffee. Doubling as a cafe, Dom Coffee imports beans such as the Jamaican Blue Blend, Kopi Lowak and beans from Sumatra, Java and Ethiopia. Although they boast a wide selection of coffee beans, the cafes themselves are rather Spartan. The cafes look like places to buy coffee machines rather than cafes to lounge around it.

Espresso and water.
A typical espresso and water.

Other cafes in Kharkiv include the Art Cafe, which boasts a much more comfortable, tribal, though smokey, atmosphere. WIFI was free. Like Dom Coffee, they have quite a selection of coffees from around the world so don’t be afraid to ask in broken Russian or Ukrainian for something other than your regular drip coffee. And if you’re looking to hang around the university district, try out the IT Cafe, which also offers a selection of moderately priced meals and… music at night. 🙂 (Though I never got a chance to any bands play there, I did see the drum kit and one of my students said he always had gigs there.)

For the chain stores, the idea of non-smoking sections is a foreign concept to most Slavs, preferring instead to be able to smoke outside and in. The smoke-free atmosphere I could find was McDonald’s. Every other coffee shop I’ve been to allows smoking. Coffee Life is another big chain store throughout Ukraine. Just about every cafe I walked into had WIFI.

Lviv Ratusz
Lviv Ratusz from street level.

For a burgeoning and immersive cafe culture head to Lviv. In downtown Lviv (where I spent most of my time), you could generally walk into any cafe and watch the world walk past. Let’s face it, when looking for a cafe the coffee itself is typically a secondary or even tertiary consideration. Instead, you want atmosphere and scenery. Well, just about ever downtown Lviv cafe offers just that. A couple of cafes that stood out to me were Gloria’s Beans cafe located in the same building as the George Hotel on Procp. Shevchenka. I was also told to try the Blue Cup Cafe, a small cafe located in a naturally-lit nook at 4 Vulica Rus’ka that serves up coffee “Lviv-style”, among other varieties. From what I could tell, “Lviv-style” coffee is none other than Polish-style coffee: coffee grounds at the bottom of your cup. But what Lviv offers most of all is a centrally-located, picturesque, cafe culture, especially in the summer months. You think Krakow is the place to be? Try Lviv, I bet you’ll change you’re mind.


Przemyśl and Warsaw, Poland: A Return to… Civilization(?!)

Przemysl at night.
Przemysl at night.

And so after four months in Ukraine, I wanted to make my way back home for a cousin’s wedding to happen in July. After enduring yet another 23-hour train ride from Kharkiv to Lviv to visit my Ukrainian family, I took the bus from Lviv to Sheheni, on the Ukrainian-Poland border. I had overstayed my visa by a month and was anticipating some trouble at the border. I intended to renew it when I went to Lviv two months prior but I just never did.

The border guards were nice about it. “You overstayed, go see my boss.” So off I went to a little room where a mid-20s female border guard explained what I did wrong, scanned my passport, got me to sign a document stating that I knew what I was doing and under no duress, paid a fine ($65), and then walked across the border to Poland. Not so bad as I’d heard worse stories. In the grand scheme of things it didn’t really matter too much but next time I visit Ukraine I’ll be sure to renew my visa anyway.

Hopping an inter-city bus I made my way to Przemyśl.

Przemyśl is a nice little town. I saw some signs for ESL schools and seriously thought about posting up shop there, or at least coming back at some point. I spent the day wandering around the ornate streets and visited several churches.

Przemsyl street during the day.
Przemsyl street during the day.
Przemysl pink building.
Przemysl pink building.
Franciscan Church interior.
Franciscan Church interior.
Greek Orthodox Church Interior.
Greek Orthodox Church Interior.
Catholic Church interior.
Catholic Church interior.
Przemysl street at night.
Przemysl street at night.

Przemysl sunsetI’d like to note the change between Ukraine and Poland is vast. First, it was difficult for me to switch back into Polish after speaking surzyk for the last four months. I tried to remember the Polish words I was taught but often Ukrainian or Russian came out instead. Further, life itself seemed different in Poland compared to Ukraine. As more than one ESL teacher I met told me, Ukraine offers more excitement compared to the Western world. In a word, Poland, Canada and other such Western countries were, simply “boring”. Both sets of women are extremely gorgeous, but the Polish seem to be a little more conservative in their manner of dress. Gone were the six-inch heels and visible underwear! The cost of things is noticeable as the Polish zloty is valued considerably more than the Ukrainian hryvnia. The cost difference is best realized by the Ukrainian babas (grandmothers) who offer Ukrainian horilka (vodka) and cigarettes on the Polish side of the border. Had I not been going back to Canada I would’ve bought a few bottles.

Speaking of bringing things across the border, the most notable difference between Ukraine and Poland – for me at least – was that there was no general distrust the law, unless you are breaking it. By way of contrast, in Ukraine, no one, absolutely no one would suggest you talk to a police officer unless there was no one else around. The cops in Poland, however, were very nice (which I can sadly tell you from experience.)

And with that, I hopped yet another late night bus back to Warsaw. The bus trip wouldn’t be without it’s uniqueness, such as a drunk man serenading another elderly lady. Four hours later I arrived in Warsaw. Again, the difference between Warsaw in winter and summer was huge. In winter Warsaw had such charm and colour. In summer? It looked like any other western city. I don’t hold it against Poland, however, as I had just come from a developing country. I was surprised to find myself agreeing with my former co-worker who had described the West as “boring”! It’s kinda shocking to go from a developed country into a developing country, especially when they’re right beside each other. How can it be that these things happen?

I took another walk around Warsaw to enjoy the last of my stay in my homelands. Another chapter, another trip, was closing. Although I was glad to leave Ukraine at the time, as time passes I miss the country more every day. I’m excited for the future for both Poland and Ukraine and truly hope that things will improve for both peoples.

So, after visiting my homelands I could only wonder, what next?

Warsaw in summertime.
Warsaw in summertime.

Przemyśl and Warsaw, Poland: A Return to… Civilization(?!)

Przemysl at night.
Przemysl at night.

And so after four months in Ukraine, I wanted to make my way back home for a cousin’s wedding to happen in July. After enduring yet another 23-hour train ride from Kharkiv to Lviv to visit my Ukrainian family, I took the bus from Lviv to Sheheni, on the Ukrainian-Poland border. I had overstayed my visa by a month and was anticipating some trouble at the border. I intended to renew it when I went to Lviv two months prior but I just never did.

The border guards were nice about it. “You overstayed, go see my boss.” So off I went to a little room where a mid-20s female border guard explained what I did wrong, scanned my passport, got me to sign a document stating that I knew what I was doing and under no duress, paid a fine ($65), and then walked across the border to Poland. Not so bad as I’d heard worse stories. In the grand scheme of things it didn’t really matter too much but next time I visit Ukraine I’ll be sure to renew my visa anyway.

Hopping an inter-city bus I made my way to Przemyśl.

Przemyśl is a nice little town. I saw some signs for ESL schools and seriously thought about posting up shop there, or at least coming back at some point. I spent the day wandering around the ornate streets and visited several churches.

Przemsyl street during the day.
Przemsyl street during the day.
Przemysl pink building.
Przemysl pink building.
Franciscan Church interior.
Franciscan Church interior.
Greek Orthodox Church Interior.
Greek Orthodox Church Interior.
Catholic Church interior.
Catholic Church interior.
Przemysl street at night.
Przemysl street at night.

Przemysl sunsetI’d like to note the change between Ukraine and Poland is vast. First, it was difficult for me to switch back into Polish after speaking surzyk for the last four months. I tried to remember the Polish words I was taught but often Ukrainian or Russian came out instead. Further, life itself seemed different in Poland compared to Ukraine. As more than one ESL teacher I met told me, Ukraine offers more excitement compared to the Western world. In a word, Poland, Canada and other such Western countries were, simply “boring”. Both sets of women are extremely gorgeous, but the Polish seem to be a little more conservative in their manner of dress. Gone were the six-inch heels and visible underwear! The cost of things is noticeable as the Polish zloty is valued considerably more than the Ukrainian hryvnia. The cost difference is best realized by the Ukrainian babas (grandmothers) who offer Ukrainian horilka (vodka) and cigarettes on the Polish side of the border. Had I not been going back to Canada I would’ve bought a few bottles.

Speaking of bringing things across the border, the most notable difference between Ukraine and Poland – for me at least – was that there was no general distrust the law, unless you are breaking it. By way of contrast, in Ukraine, no one, absolutely no one would suggest you talk to a police officer unless there was no one else around. The cops in Poland, however, were very nice (which I can sadly tell you from experience.)

And with that, I hopped yet another late night bus back to Warsaw. The bus trip wouldn’t be without it’s uniqueness, such as a drunk man serenading another elderly lady. Four hours later I arrived in Warsaw. Again, the difference between Warsaw in winter and summer was huge. In winter Warsaw had such charm and colour. In summer? It looked like any other western city. I don’t hold it against Poland, however, as I had just come from a developing country. I was surprised to find myself agreeing with my former co-worker who had described the West as “boring”! It’s kinda shocking to go from a developed country into a developing country, especially when they’re right beside each other. How can it be that these things happen?

I took another walk around Warsaw to enjoy the last of my stay in my homelands. Another chapter, another trip, was closing. Although I was glad to leave Ukraine at the time, as time passes I miss the country more every day. I’m excited for the future for both Poland and Ukraine and truly hope that things will improve for both peoples.

So, after visiting my homelands I could only wonder, what next?

Warsaw in summertime.
Warsaw in summertime.

Poltava, Ukraine Part 2: A Guided Tour of Poltava and its Famous People and Battles

Poltava Streets
Poltava streets

My second day in Poltava was also eventful. I had in mind to see a few museums and possibly seit in a cafe to wile away the day. I’d already seen the monuments dedicated to the soldiers, Kozaks, and city memorial the day before, including the ubiquitous statue of Taras Shevchenko. In a museum mood, I decided to pop by the Cosmonautics Museum.

Cosmonautics Museum
Cosmonautics Museum.

Actually, I didn’t intend to go to the Cosmonautics Museum, but I ended up there because the Ivan Kotlyarevskyj’s museum was closed. The Cosmonautics museum is just across the street so I decided to pop by to see if someone knew what was going on. Long story short, the middle-aged woman running the desk didn’t speak a word of English so they decided to call on their daughter who knew English. Hello Ukrayeenka! In walked a typical, slender, well-put-together 24-year old Ukrainian university student who worked in the museum during the summer months when not at university.

She didn’t know why the Kotlyrarevskyj museum wasn’t open, she even asked her mom (the lady running the front desk) to call the owner. No answer. So I decided to take an hour-long tour of the Poltava Cosmonautics Museum. It’s here that I’d learn that Poltava was an alternate landing site for allied World War 2 planes? And that Yuri Vasilievich Kondratyuk (birth name was Olexandr Gnatovich Shargei), a local scientist, came up with several revolutionary ideas for space flight which would eventually be used in the Apollo program? (Though, apparently, NASA would come up with them on their own.) The museum, though small, housed quite a few authentic artifacts and some replicas from Poltava’s long history of space research.

Not wanting to walk around Poltava by myself, again, I asked her if she’d mind taking me around Poltava, like a tour guide. She could practice her English and I could practice my Ukrainian. Clearing it with her mother she finally agreed. Off we went.

We spent the day together and she told me all about the city, its history, its significance, and where it can go from here. I suggested we get a bottle of horilka for our journey, but she said she doesn’t drink that early in the day. Some folks have standards, I guess.

Detail of Painting of Battle of Poltava
Detail of painting of Battle of Poltava in the museum located on the site of the battle. Painted by Grekov studio painters sometime in the 1950s for the Poltava Battle Museum. See their website here. Special thanks to Mark M for finding out more about this painting.

The city of Poltava is the location of a famous battle between the Ukrainians and the Swedes which decided the course of Ukrainian history for centuries to come. It was during this battle that Ivan Mazepa, praised by some as a hero but derided as a traitor by others, would lose the battle and leave Ukraine in the hands of the Russians. We visited part of the battle site and visited the museum where we attached ourselves to an English tour already in progress. I was surprised to learn that the tour group, although listening in English, was actually Swedish. Apparently lots of Swedes like to visit Poltava and its battle sites for its history.

Heading back to the city, we walked around downtown Poltava. My guide impressed me with the knowledge of her city’s history which made me kinda wonder what I knew about my hometown Winnipeg. Churches, buildings, monuments and Ivan Kotlyarevskyj’s house.

Steve, who is Ivan Kotyablahblahblah?

Kotlyarevskyj's house.
Ivan Kotlyarevskyj’s reconstructed house in Poltava, Ukraine.

Ah, well, Mr. Ivan Kot-lyah-rev-ski is one of two famous writers to emerge from Poltava. In any event, Mr. K. is credited as being the first truly Ukrainian writer. He read Vergil’s Aeneid and was inspired to write his own version. The result was a story called Eneyida in which the characters of Vergil’s work are Ukrainian Cossacks but have Greek and Roman names. Not only that, following in the tradition of Homer and Vergil, Mr. K. wrote his book in half the space it took Misters H. and V. – the Eneyida is only 6 books long. He also wrote another famous work Natalka Poltavka which is often taught in Canadian-Ukrainian schools.

Nicolai Gogol
Nicolai Gogol

The other well-known writer from the Poltava region is Nicolai Gogol, though you might recognize his name as being Russian. Gogol is the creator of the legendary Kozak, Taras Bulba, a short story that would spawn a couple of adaptations both in Hollywood and Moscow. Although Gogol’s Ukrainian up-bringing permeates his works, he relocated to St. Petersburg and then Moscow seeking literary fame. So it is with writers, moving away from their home towns. Unlike Kotlyarevskyj, Gogol did not have a house in Poltava, but he watches over the city by way of a sitting statue.

Rushnyk maker in Poltava.
Rushnyk maker in Poltava.

I had promised one of my aunts in Canada that I’d bring back a rushnyk made in Poltava. A rushnyk is a traditional embroidered table cloth, typically given to newly-wed couples. However, since Ukraine is experiencing an influx of tourists, these traditional pieces are slowly giving way to machine-made, mass-produced copies. I was looking for a hand-made rushnyk and, after walking around for a bit, we found a Ukrainian souvenier store. $100 seemed to be the standard price of a rushnyk and I’m sad that I didn’t get two and a Ukrainian shirt. These pieces were amazing. I managed to snap a photo of the lady running the store and her current work in progress.

Of course, we ended the day at a bar and imbibed with a few “live” beers chatting about life. I told her about my time in Ukraine so far, and even mentioned the Ukrainian dating website. She went silent, I gasped as I knew all too well about that silence. Soon after she confessed she works for a dating website: she writes letters and gets paid $10 per letter… but she’s only done four to date. Upon hearing this, I start thinking about offering my own writing services to women. Hmmm, a quote about writing popped into mind:

“Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for the love of it, then you do it for a few friends, and finally you do it for money.” – Moliere

I gave her a few dollars for her efforts as a tour guide and then hurried back to my hotel to gather my stuff for the train that night, the idea of writing to women for money still in my mind.

I had one last stop to make before departing back to Canada and that would be back in Lviv to finally meet my Ukrainian cousins.

Memorial to Ukrainian Kozaks.
Memorial to Ukrainian Kozaks.
Another war memorial.
Another memorial.
Memorial to Peter I
Memorial to Peter I, or commemorating the city’s 1100 birthday. I can’t remember. 🙁
Memorial to fallen soldiers at Battle of Poltava.
Memorial at one of the sites of the Battle of Poltava.
Golden eagle sitting atop the Column of Glory in Poltava, Ukraine.
Golden eagle sitting atop the Column of Glory in Poltava, Ukraine.
Neat bug.
Neat bug.

Poltava, Ukraine Part 1: Language Learning and Water Nymphs

Night on the Eve of Ivan Kupala, image from Wikicommons.
Night on the Eve of Ivan Kupala, image from Wikicommons.

I had heard about Poltava from a few folks. It was the site of an important Ukrainian battle (the Battle of Poltava) and that it was one of the few remaining cities that still spoke and preserved the Ukrainian language and heritage. Not only that, the age-old pagan festival of Ivana Kupala would be held the night of July 7th which I was interested in seeing. Since I arrived early in the morning of Ivana Kupala and my train to Lviv wouldn’t be until the next night, I effectively had two days in Poltava.

My first day in Poltava was spent wandering the city on my own, seeing some of the monuments they have erected to the fallen soldiers, but the highlight of my day would be my conversation with a Poltava man… in Ukrainian and Russian. As luck would have it, I took a wrong turn and ended up somewhere behind one of the universities in Poltava. I needed assistance in locating the main road again and, thinking that the next man walking down the street would be a professor, I decided to him for directions. The first question, naturally, was “Do you speak English?” When he said “No,” I did my best to practice the Ukrainian I knew.

As I’ve written before, I studied Ukrainian in Winnipeg during dreaded Saturday morning classes (the morning after my Ukrainian dancing classes), so reading and writing Ukrainian (and Russian for that matter) aren’t so difficult, listening isn’t hard either. But thinking and then speaking in Ukrainian? That’s a little more difficult. Up until this point, I’d been studying Ukrainian and Russian in Kharkiv both on my own and with a very nice Ukrainian lady who acted as tutor and cook.

Now, in case you’re thinking that learning any language is hard, let me tell you a little secret: most folks who know multiple languages know the most common words, some verb conjugation, and the majority of the “100 most important words in any language.” The list consists of simple words, e.g. “A/an,” “after,” “much,” “please,” “thank you,” and a few common verbs like “find,” “go,” “love,” etc. You can find the full list and more language learning techniques on the Mind Tools website, written and maintained by Tony Buzan.

They say if you can learn those words all you gotta do next is add verbs and more nouns. Tim Ferris lays out a method of learning a language in three months on his website, a method that includes learning how to conjugate the past, present, and future tenses of verbs. It’s a neat method to learn. Learning a language sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s not that easy, but those methods do help. I’ve only ever had moderate success with the 100-word list and Tim Ferriss’s suggestions, but I can’t blame anybody but myself for not being fluent in any other language except English. I used the above techniques in Korea and Thailand when I went to those countries and, of course, Ukraine. The techniques won’t make you fluent, but they will help you become at least conversational. Of course, Louis L’Amour gives the best advice for learning a foreign language:

“When you go to a country, you must learn how to say two things: how to ask for food, and to tell a woman that you love her. Of these the second is more important, for if you tell a woman you love her she will certainly feed you.”

He was impressed by my Ukrainian and said I sounded like I was from Western Ukraine, kinda Polish. I told him my grandparents came from there. I wanted to practice my Ukrainian so I followed him back to the main road. And so as we walked along Lenin Street in Poltava, me and my interlocutor, Gregory, talked about our families, work, what I was doing in Poltava and where I was going. Lots of present and future tense, many adjectives and a lot of “yes’s”. The conversation was kinda probably much more awkward than I’d like to think, but somehow we walked and talked for 15 minutes. Mission accomplished: conversation conducted in Ukrainian.

Later that night, around 10 pm, I headed down to the banks of the Voskla River on which I was told the Ivana Kupala celebrations would take place. Ivana Kupala is an old pagan fertility festival, celebrated on the evening of July 7th. I was interested to see whether or not the Poltavians – Poltavans? – would host a traditional celebration or if it would be a little more modern, as in, a drinking festival.

Well, the drink was on and it really looked like any other modern celebration, “Liquor Fest.” There were groups of youths all over the beach, some in bikinis or speedos, some holding guitars, others playing volleyball and all of them were drinking. Some even threw vinoks (Ukrainian head pieces made of flowers) into the river and went skinny dipping. At the end of the beach one group had made a fire and were playing some Ukrainian songs that I didn’t recognize.

But I wanted more. Part of the legend of Ivana Kupala is that there is a special, magical fern that grows only on that night. If you find it, untold wealth and prosperity comes your way. Deciding that I needed some wealth and prosperity, I trudged off into the bush in search of treasure.

But you have to be careful, there’s another side to that search for treasure. Rusalky, or water nymphs, drowned girls from time’s past bearing a grudge against the living. They will call your name and try to convince you that life is better under water. You’re not supposed to listen to their voices, the equivalent of the Siren calls, nor look in their direction. I did hear one such voice but, heeding to my survival instincts and advice from my friend in Kharkiv, I pointed my camera in the direction of the voice and snapped a picture. This is what I saw.

Ukrainian Inside
Rusalka wearing "Ukrainian inside" T-shirt.

Wow, I thought. How bad could it be to strike up a conversation with a ghost? Well, I guess the flash scared her away since, by the time I looked, she was gone. There goes practicing my Ukrainian again, I guess.

I headed back to the beach where all the normal, drinking folks were. The fire at the end of the beach was even larger now and folks were jumping over it. Crazy Ukrainians, I thought. The idea is that you have to jump over the fire for good luck. If you have a girl/boyfriend you’re supposed to hold hands while jumping over the fire. If you land still hand-in-hand, you future will be good together. If you don’t, you may as well break it off there because it ain’t gonna get any better. Lacking a partner, I jumped over the fire by myself.

Ivana Kupala fire jumping.
Ivana Kupala fire jumping.

With that, I had one more day in Poltava to discover more about its history and a famous Ukrainian writer.