The Donetsk Dandy Dozen – 12 Pics from Ukraine’s 5th Largest City

I haven’t seen Donetsk, the fifth largest city in Ukraine, on too many ”must-see’ lists. It also wasn’t on my list of places where I expected to wake up on 40th birthday. It was early February and it was cold. That you would expect in eastern Ukraine.

morning view on my 40th birthday

I was there to cover a sporting event and the trip wasn’t very long, just three very cold days. This was early 2005, just a few months after recently-elected President Victor Yushchenko made international headlines when his face started peeling off after he had soup spiced up with TCDD, the most potent dioxin in Agent Orange. A guest of honor at the event I was covering was Viktor Yanukovych, Yuschenko’s chief rival. Donetsk was not Yushchenko country.

I had very little time to explore. Most of these snaps were taken during a brief afternoon birthday stroll. There was plenty of signs of construction so I’m sure the city’s changed quite a bit in the seven years since.

And a few more, these all taken at Donetsk International Airport, some of which has been reconstructed since.

But wait! There’s more – a bonus shot from the airport! Fear not: according to local visitors on my flickr stream, the public restrooms don’t look like this anymore.

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Yes, that’s right.
D is for Donetsk
in the Blogging From A to Z Challenge 2012.
Check out more participants here.

My explanation for this is here.

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Kiev I.

kiev1.jpgKIEV — In transit; not much time in the Ukrainian capital. This time, it was just as well.

Outside was cold, snowing, slightly overcast with a bitter wind in the air; basically living up to the few preconceived notions I had about early February Kiev. Standing on the tarmac in miserable conditions while waiting on a bus to take us to the main terminal was not a particularly inspired version of a welcome wagon.

After not particularly enjoying an outrageously over-priced coffee, I went back out into the frost to head over to Borispyl Airport’s Terminal 1, its domestic gateway. Two men had just finished clearing a path perhaps a meter wide through the inter-terminal walkway, using a pair of make-shift wooden shovels. The security personnel at Terminal 1 were predictably bored, and not too bothered when my two bags fell with a thud from their short conveyor table onto the entryway’s puddles of melted muddied snow. They were equally nonplussed while being castigated by a woman whose white fur coat received the same conveyor treatment. I can’t remember the words she was screaming at the man, working that x-ray machine with a sullen indifference. But I wish I did. They certainly added some color to the otherwise gray atmosphere. I think most of them began with a ’g’. Or maybe it was ‘t’?

At the far left of the main entry sat a small souvenir stand, rife with typical offerings: some books, maps, wall ornaments, souvenir coins, backpack patches, tea cups. The coins, with fine relief etched portraits of recently-elected president Viktor Yushchenko figuring prominently, caught my eye. They were obviously created before his face started peeling off after eating poisoned soup, and I would even have considered buying one had someone actually been working the counter.

To the right of that was a door leading to an empty room, presumably, a no-longer-used reception room. The sign’s English translation read: “Hall of Expectation.”

Some time ago, I decided that a reasonable credo to live by was, “No expectations, no disappointments.” I decided against wandering into that empty room.