A road trip to Russia, but not really… Part 2

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July 2, 2012 by farbolino

If you missed part 1, click here  

So we finally arrived to Vova’s Babushka’s house, and all I had heard about was how good her homemade vodka and borsch (Ukrainian soup) were.  What Vova didn’t tell me was that he didn’t inform his grandmother that a foreigner would be arriving.  Nearly his entire family was there; his father, aunt, uncle, grandfather and grandmother.

Vova’s uncle, aunt, father, me, grandmother, grandfather, and Svetlana; all from left to right.

None of his family members had ever met a foreigner before, but I wasn’t sure exactly what they meant by that, so I asked.  They defined it as ‘someone from a country other then the former U.S.S.R. , so in other words they had never even met someone from a bordering country like Romania, or Slovakia.  Needless to say they were a little shocked to meet an American.

All communication was in Ukrainian, which is spoken in the west of Ukraine and throughout villages.  Russian is spoken in cities and in the east, which I had studied a little in the last few weeks, but wasn’t entirely helpful meeting his family.  While some words are the same, or similar; most of the important ones like yes or thank you were entirely different.  Luckily I had Vova and Svetlana with me to translate for us.

All of his family were super kind and hospitable.  I had heard to never compliment something in a Ukrainian household, or you’re likely to go home with whatever you complimented.  People there may not have much, and they’d still be willing to give it to you if you’d want it.

We sat down to eat, and the food never stopped coming, and neither did the vodka.  Even with a stomach full of salad, eggs, home raised rabbit and a ton of other things; I found myself drunk for the second time that day.  Vova’s father kept pouring 50ml shots, and never stopped.  I walked away the loser from that battle; as you can see from the photo above, his father has a slight weight advantage over me.

After some talks, we all decided to stay the night since we were no where near Kiev and it was close to midnight.  Vova and I slept on some blakets on the living room floor and everyone else found a couch or a pull out bed to sleep in.  During the night there was a heavy rain and thunder and lightning.  We woke up in the morning around 8am to have some breakfast before we headed back to Kiev.

Breakfast; as you can see there was no shortage of food.

Vodka the night before was ok, but when Vova’s dad offered me some at 9am I had to refuse.  I finally had the chance to try grandma’s borsch, and it was amazing!  As you can see from the table, there was so much food we didn’t know what to do with it all.  I don’t think I’d eaten so much for breakfast in years.  I’d finish half my plate, and granny would fill the other half with dishes I hadn’t tried yet.

After breakfast, we looked like this…

After a little break, we went outside to check out the garden, the chicken house and where they raised the rabbits.

Portrait of Vova

Svetlana, a giant rabbit, and me.

Soon afterwards it was time for us to go.  It was amazing the bond I had with Vova’s family after just one night.  I was sad to leave them, and I don’t think they wanted us to go either.  They said if I was ever back in Ukraine that I should just drop by to drink some vodka and eat some borsch.  We hugged goodbye, and headed south towards Kiev.

To see more photos taken from the trip with my iPhone; click here

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