Friday, June 7, 2013

Sumy, Ukraine: June 4-7, 2013

Sumy (Суми) in Eastern Ukraine is about 25 miles from the Russian border.  It is the capital of Sums'ka province.  The city has a population of less than 300,000.  It is not in our guidebook, and after being in Sumy, I understand why.  It doesn't take long to see the "sights."

Sumy means "bag"; it is so named because after flood waters of the Psel River receded, three leather bags filled with gold were found along the riverside.  Seeing this as a sign of a prosperous future, Sumy was founded there in 1652 as a Cossack fortress.  Sumy's coat of arms has both Cossacks and bags.

The Psel River dissects the city, and on a warm day, it is a good way to cool off.

Sumy has several lovely churches,

a pedestrian street,

a gazebo built without nails,

and a sprawling Central Market.

Humorous wall murals, translations of famous works, are sprinkled around the city.

There are some very nice pre Soviet-era buildings.

In all my wanderings around Sumy, I did not find a Comrade Lenin statue--very unusual.

Dan's taught his classes in the Soviet style, arch-shaped Ministry of Interior building which sits in Sumy's Independence Square.

Near the statue of poet Taras Shevchenko, there is a statue of three girls who are tied together.  This statue commemorates their protest over the city's desire to collapse the three universities into only one.  The city listened to the protestors and kept all three universities with their different specialties.

The highlight of our days in Sumy was attending a rock concert at the stadium.  Ira, Dan's colleague, recognized the lead singer from Океан Ельзи (Okean Elzi which means Elzi Ocean) who was staying at the same crappy hotel as us.  He gave her three tickets for the performance.  We enjoyed the evening, the music, and especially watching how happy Ira was to be there.

The next morning, Friday, we made the 6-hour return drive over pot-holed sections of roadway back to Kyiv.  

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