Visiting Ukraine and reflections upon the lessons of travel
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Travel is about experiencing new feelings and having all your preconceptions blown out of the water. It is about opening your mind to new cultures and new perspectives, stepping out of your normality and embracing someone else’s. Travel as they say, is fatal to prejudice, it teaches you more than the pages of any book ever could, it practices what it preaches!
We took a trip over to The Ukraine and nowhere more did this sentiment feel relevant. Ukraine has been in the news recently and many would be rather reluctant to head from the “safety” of the EU into the “Wild lands” beyond. But our wanderlust has instilled a sense of adventure and intrigue when it comes to the overlooked, the unknown and the misunderstood. When the warnings not to take that 8 hour coach from Krakow to Lviv came it only fuelled our curiosity, when the media showed pictures of a war torn nation our thirst to see the reality only grew.
When we entered Ukraine, after a 3 hour border crossing complete with AK47’s and intense inspections, we crossed the threshold from modern Poland into the unknown world of this new landscape. As the army fatigued and Ushanka wearing officer’s gun brushed my arm whilst he scrutinised my passport, his eyes darting back and forth between its pages and my gulping face, I did wonder what we had gotten ourselves into. A rush of both fear and excitement coursed through my veins, a nervousness that makes you feel alive! That tingling sense of uncertainty with which travel brings, the reason you escaped from that empty emotionless cubical back home, this is why we ventured across the border…
The packs of wild dogs, 30 year old dust covered cars and tin roofed ramshackle farmhouses were both a shock and a revelation. The highways gave way to broken and worn Cyrillic signed through roads lined with tall white birch trees and soviet bloc crumbling complexes; it wasn’t the Baroque hidden treasure I had imagined…but yet it was still a rich reward for our efforts.
What we found when we entered the city of Lviv was the Ukrainian spirit, the real story of unity and peace not a country in crisis under the shadow of Russia. We saw the beautiful heart of Ukrainian culture, the blue and yellow flags floating in the misty morning sun atop balconies and landmarks alike. We felt a warmth of curiosity towards two people venturing open heartedly beyond the media’s veil. The authentic and unspoilt beauty of Lviv soon burned away any uncertainty and preconceptions, it shone vividly on this bright autumn day.
What travel teaches you is to look beyond, to see past your perceptions of what life should be and how it should be lived. Part of our reasoning behind travelling the world comes from the idea of “Questioning Normality” and questioning our own ideals, to be open minded and embrace other ways of life and culture.
Visiting Ukraine showed us following our hearts can lead to the most wonderful and unexpected interactions and experiences, it can show us the world in all its detail and passion. Most of all it taught us that travel is about walking this earth with an openness and about taking a chance on opportunities to see the world with your own eyes, and it’s when you do that you will gain the most rich rewards our wonderfully diverse planet can offer.
The Roaming Renegades:
Hi, we are Nic and Paul, the ‘Roaming Renegades’. We are travellers, adventurers and explorers and our blog chronicles our escape from the 9-5 and our round the world trip. Chek us out on Facebook and Twitter.