Last month, Three Rivers played host to Ukrainian husband and wife, Artem and Anjali Galimov.
Artem is 30, a native of Kyiv and co-founder of a software company; Anjali, 28, was born and raised in Sri Lanka and has worked in the tech industry since she graduated from college with a degree in computer science. Ukrainian visitors offer travel tips
Their home is in Kyiv, a cosmopolitan city of 2.8 million and the nation’s capitol. The population of Ukraine is 42.2 million (about the population of California). Ukrainian visitors offer travel tips
After meeting in Malaysia while both were working for tech companies, they were married less than a year ago and never had the chance for a honeymoon. Their visit to Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park, Artem said, was part of a two-week holiday to the U.S. to see some national parks, Las Vegas, and San Francisco. Ukrainian visitors offer travel tips
They chose Airbnb accommodations so they could engage with people who lived at the places where they were traveling. Here’s what they had to say:
Revolution of 2014
The Ukrainian people staged a revolution in February 2014 to oust their corrupt president Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych was living a luxurious lifestyle at the Mezhyhira Residence, a historic monastery where the presidential family lived. At Mezhyhira, Yanukovych had an exotic car museum, a hunting club, golf course, equestrian club, tennis courts, dog kennels, etc. At the leased 350-acre estate, Yanukovych held lavish state receptions and entertained multi-national business moguls like Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman who is serving a federal prison sentence in a minimum-security prison after being convicted in special counsel Robert S. Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Their former president, Artem said, was enriching himself at the expense of the Ukranian people. Fearing for his life, Yanukovyich fled to Russia soon after the 2014 Revolution began. Since that time, the Ukrainian government has converted the former presidential estate into a tourist attraction.
What do Artem and Anjali think about the U.S. and the future relations between the two countries? The aid and assistance of the U.S. is indispensable in fighting a common enemy — Russia, Artem said. Ukranians have since ancient times considered themselves more European than Russian or Asian and, since the 1990s, have been staunch allies of the U.S.
Anjali said now is an opportune time for tourists to visit Ukraine. The Ukrainian currency is still recovering from a “major economic downturn” that has most items like dining, lodging, entertainment and transportation costing about a tenth of what they cost here.
“We are the greenest part of Europe and have the most fertile soil that the Germans even tried to ship back home during World War II,” Artem said. “We grow all varieties of vegetables and are known for our potatoes, and onions, and the endless fields of sunflowers that we grow for oil.”
Artem also said don’t be misled by Russian propaganda: “We have the world’s best vodka!”
According to Anjali, here are the can’t-miss Ukraine attractions: (1) Take the train through the countryside to see the endless miles of sunflowers; (2) Attend an opera at the National Opera (the best seat in the house is $10 (U.S.) and the performers equal any in Europe); (3) The nightclub scene rivals any of the European capitals, and Ukraine is a hotbed of electronica music and dancing; (5) Take a side excursion to Odessa, a Black Sea port with fine beaches and lots of 19th century architecture.
“And don’t miss the onion-domed Orthodox churches,” Artem added. “They are everywhere.”
These Ukrainian millennials are much like their American counterparts. They long for freedom and to be able to live independently from the interference of other countries. They, too, are extremely concerned about climate change and what kind of world there might be for their children.
On President Trump, they agree if he is guilty of bribery and corruption, then he must be removed from office. The Ukranians have recently dealt with the same issue of removing a president, according to Artem.
“We are global citizens, and just like Americans, we long to live in peace,” Anjali said.