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Eurobus 2 Ukraine – May 8-24, 2009

Days 1 and 2 – Warsaw

On the first day of our journey we met in Warsaw to get to know everyone and board “our” bus.
After a welcome meeting and night out on the town (some of us got to explore the Polish
specialty of “beer + juice” for the first time in their lives and were quite pleased), we jointly
participated in the Robert Schumann parade and keynote address the next day. We then took the
first ride in our beloved vehicle to get to the dorm where we would get some rooms to spend the
night and make some fabulous new friends.
Day 3 – Polish-Ukranian Border and Volodymyrets & Dubrovytsia

After a long drive and crossing the border, our first day in Ukraine allowed us to see the beautiful
countryside and finally arrive in Volodymyrits late in the evening. We spent our first night all
together in a hostel far from any other civilization – a nice touch after all the “big-city-life” in
Warsaw. After going to a wonderful school and giving our first training sessions the next
morning, we continued to Dubrovytsia by bus and set up a photo exhibit and Q&A-session for the
local youth. In the evening, we continued to Korosten by bus.
Day 4 and 5 – Korosten
Arriving late in the evening in Korosten, most of us had the pleasure to stay in host families. As
for me, I can confirm that my first impression of Ukranian people was entirely confirmed by our
incredibly hospitable host-family: They were being wonderfully open and welcoming, and we
had a wonderful time, chatting away until late in the night.

In the morning, we went to do another training session in the local school. This time creating a
large map of Europe all together, which was a lot of fun for everyone.
In the afternoon, we went about several other projects in the city center, for which we split up into
three smaller groups. One group went to an orphan-house and played games and did some
painting with the local kids, one group planted flowers on the city center’s main square, and my
group helped putting up signs on trees for a nature path in the local park.

In the evening, we had the first real countryside outing at a recreation area near the city. The local
organizers brought food for us to cook local dishes from the three participating countries, and – of
course – the obligatory liquid supplies for an evening under the open sky. The borscht was very
tasty (like pretty much all the borscht we had in Ukraine – twice a day, I might add…), and
everyone had a good time. Most notably, we made one of our most important friends of the trip:
Rosa-Maria, the beer-loving goat. Rosa-Maria, we miss you!!
Of course, we were looking forward to conveniently staying in our host-families for a second
night before departing for Kyiv early in the morning.

Day 6 – Kyiv
Arriving in Kyiv in the late morning, while four of us gave a quick press conference, the rest of
the group first visited the office of the local NGO that partnered with the Eurobus project. One of
the friendly members then ventured out to the city with the group, showing us the main sights
such as the St. Michael’s Cathedral…

… the Saint Sophia Cathedral…

… the main street Khreschatyk, Andreiy street, and – of course – the banks of the Dnipro river…

Although we had to rush, we saw quite a few spots in Kyiv and enjoyed our time there. In the
evening, we took off to Lyubotyn for our next training session in the morning.

Day 7 – Lyubotyn
Having slept very well in our very pink accommodation, we proceeded to have breakfast at the
Monte Carlo, one of the many nightclubs we had the pleasure to visit bright and early in the day.
After the usual warm meal (salad and cooked meat included), we had another training at the local
school. The kids were spectacular, and a few of us achieved popstar-status for them.

In the afternoon, the successful morning program was followed by fun and music at the train
station. Taruta – the band that supported our project – made everyone dance and impressed us
with traditional Ukranian melodies and modern rock-sounds. We stayed until the sun went down
and continued on to Kharkiv where we arrived in the center of the city right by the side of Liberty
Square late at night. Luckily, our hosts were there to pick us up right away… and as for myself, I
can say that the four of us staying together in one place made a friend for life!!

Day 8 and 9 – Kharkiv

Our first day in Kharkiv was spent on a day of conferences and interviews… We met in the late
morning to arrange everything and briefly talk about the topics and who will be speakers, and
talked about all kinds of possibilities for international exchange with focus on youth.

Our second day in Kharkiv will probably go into the books as one of the most sporty ones of the
trip: We got together in front of the Lenin memorial on Liberty Square in the morning to meet up
with Youth from different Euro-Clubs in the city. But this time, the local coordinators had a
special treat for us up their sleeve: A city quest!

I honestly don’t remember when in my life – pretty unprepared, mind you – I’ve run more with
regular clothes, backpack, camera in my hand, and riddles in my brain, than this particular
morning. Good fun! The dedication of these kids was just unbelievable. And… I think I also ran
more than any other team, because we finished 40 minutes early. Having said this, we had a blast
though, and it was a nice change after sitting on the bus, in conferences, and in schools a lot over
the previous days. We did, however, have a conference in the afternoon, and enjoyed night at a
dance club together in the evening.

Day 10 – Zadonecke
In an excursion to the close-by Zadonecke, we spent a day in the nature again, not only having a
wonderful time together by the bonfire, but also learning about the park and its wildlife.

We spent an hour or so collecting trash in hopes of restoring a little bit of the beauty of this place,
and went on to have fun playing frisbee and knotting bracelets in the great outdoors. A relaxing
day for all of us…
Day 11 – Zolochiv
After spending the night in a hostel in the midst of the forest, we ventured to the next town in the
Kharkiv area early in the morning. In Zolochiv, we visited a school again in the morning,
receiving another wonderfully warm welcome by the director and the students. Not only did they
dress up and sang very nicely, but this time, they even gave us a homemade, traditional Ukranian
bread that we shared as we continued our journey while thinking back to Zolochiv many a time.
During the afternoon, an excursion to the famous Skovoroda museum was arranged for us, which
got our minds off the busy schedule a bit.

It was very enlightening to hear about Skovoroda’s inspiring life and work, as well as his last
words: “The world tried to catch me, but didn’t succeed”.
The kids from the local school in Zolochiv joined us for the excursion, which was a special treat
for us… they were all very interested and as impressed as we were. After visiting the museum,
we proceeded to visit another local center for kids to do arts, crafts, and music. The kids had
crafted little masterpieces from everyday materials such as matches or plastic cups. Genius!

Also, we had the pleasure to witness a music performance (…held especially for us, what an
honor!) of traditional Ukrainian songs. All of us ended up clapping and dancing in front of our
chairs, that’s how inspiring the teenagers were to us! The afternoon will be remembered well by
all, I’m sure.
Day 12 – Lozova
I think I’m not lying if I say that Lozova has a special place in the heart of every single one of us.
This town really managed to impress us greatly – an entire festival with traditional music, dance,
cultural performances, and half the town on their feet. Thank you, Lozova!! The school we visited
in the morning was so welcoming and open-hearted that we did not really know what to even say
and simply stood there in awe and happiness as they performed their welcome ceremony. We
proceeded to spend the entire day in Lozova talking to youth, families, and officials at the festival
and in meetings, and I think, in this case in particular, the pictures will say more than a thousand
words. So here we go:
The traditional play performed by citizens of Lozova. The costumes are so colorful, like most
things in Ukraine, it was a fiest for the eyes to watch.

The plays included theatre as well as traditional songs, that weren’t always easy to sing, but
nonetheless well performed.
The kids also did a very nice job performing traditional dances from different cultural heritage,

and one of the highlights was a performance with the Ukranian traditional instruments “Bandura”,
which seems to be quite the challenge: They have up to 65 stringes, and the girls had their hands
full… making it sound very nice though – we were so impressed!

In the late afternoon, we were further given a tour of the local history museum and held a meeting
with local officials to talk about possibilities of intercultural exchanges with local organizations
and European interested youth. It seems as if the Eurobus and Lozova made a brilliant team!
Day 13 – Zaporizhzhya
After spending the first of two nights that we would spend in former sanatoriums (which turned
out to be some of the best hostels we had the pleasure of staying overnight though…), we
ventured into the center of Zaporizhzhya in the morning. Waiting for us: Enthusiastic students
ready for another city quest – this time with the added challenge of having to take photos of
current social and environmental problems in Zaporizhzhya. Here is one of the results, the
socalled “red river” coming straight from the industrial areas in the outskirts of the city:

A brilliant view also is the one on the known-to-be-longest Prospect in Europe:

We also visited the Khortytsya, an island in the Dnipro river, where the Cossack-leader Dmytro
Baida united disparate groups of Coassacks in the construction of a fort in the 16th century – one
of the most important incidents in Cossack history. Part of the former building structures were
restored and rebuilt very nicely to give an impression of how life looked like some hundreds of
years ago. See for yourself:

The view from Khortytsya Island in the Dnipro on Zaporizhzhya and the big dam.

A rebuilt version of the famous Cossack church on Khortytsya Island.

Day 14 – Melitopol
Our day in Melitopol had a lot to offer. The city, which has citizens from over 100 nationalities
and hence is incredibly diverse welcomed us in the local cultural center. We offered trainings for
the incredibly smart and clever students, before heading out the a Jewish Community. There, we
learned to paint glass, bake traditional jewish bread, and make small, Bulgarian, woolen dolls for
good luck. We had a very nice time and enjoyed being in Melitopol tremendously.

In the afternoon, we went to see the local “Stone Tomb”, an archeological site with sandstone
blocks and caves, and images on them that date back into times as early as the stone age.
The apparently oldest one displays a mammoth, but the site is still being further developed and
some caves have not yet been opened. Especially noteworthy: One is allowed to climb and jump
around the big “pile of rocks”, which is a ton of fun!

Day 15 – Berdyansk
Our final destination before returning to Kyiv was Berdyansk. Yes, right on the shore of the Asov
Sea… Finally!!! During the morning, we had another engagement with the city’s people – first a
city quest and then another press conference, but in the afternoon, we made it to the beach we
yearned for.
At the beach, we had a wonderful get-together with some local youth, another small ad-hoc
training session, and finally a dinner and a party by the beach.

Day 16 – Kyiv
Well, although the end of our trip was near after a day on the road back to Ukraine’s capital of
Kyiv, the best was yet to come: Our last night’s apartments in Kyiv were a dream come true!

We spent part of our evening- and night-time in the apartment, just enjoying the view and a nice,
clean place to relax, and part of it walking through this amazing city that we have not nearly seen
enough of even still. Next to no one was willing to sacrifice the time we could spend in the streets
and trade exploring them for sleep. By the time we got on the bus to get to the Polish border early
Sunday morning, we were exhausted, but happy to have spent a few more hours in the hills of

The rainbow in Kyiv – a symbol of friendship.

The early morning view of the city (#1)

The early morning view of the city (#2)

Day 17 – Warsaw
After a heart-breaking farewell ceremony in Kyiv, and subsequently enduring a little bit of an
ordeal at the Ukrainian-Polish border, the German and Polish fellas of our group managed to get
back to Warsaw safely. This was our final stop together, and therefore (sadly) the end of Eurobus
2. Hopefully, there will be a Eurobus 3 next year, and hopefully many of us will be able to join
once more to keep this big, wonderful Eurobus-family alive and together 

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