Celebrate More Than 25 Years of an Independent Ukraine

Celebrate More Than 25 Years of an Independent Ukraine

August 24, 2016 is the 25th anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence Day. On this day, 25 years ago, Ukraine’s parliament adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine. The momentous declaration came on the heels of the collapse of an attempted coup in Moscow, when communist hardliners tried to overthrow Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev to prevent the looming dissolution of the USSR (see our series on Witnessing the Fall of the USSR). The coup ultimately failed, and so did the Soviet Union. Now, 25 years down the line, Ukraine celebrates long and loud on this proud national holiday. Parades, fireworks, private parties and public festivals are staged across the country. Read More


“Primitive” Prymachenko: National Artist of Ukraine

“Primitive” Prymachenko: National Artist of Ukraine

Born in 1909, Maria Prymachenko spent her long life in a Ukrainian village with the humble name of Bolotniya, which means marsh or swamp. As a girl she came down with polio, which interfered with her schooling and left her with a painful limp. But her vivid imagination and irrepressible use of color made her a giant in the Ukrainian art world in spite of, or perhaps because of, the limitations she encountered. Her fantastical paintings of imaginary beasts, birds, flowers and ordinary villagers doing everyday things brightened the walls of Kiev’s Art Arsenal earlier this year in a first-ever retrospective of more than 300 of her works. Read More



From Folk Wear to Fashion Week: Ukraine’s Vyshyvanka

From Folk Wear to Fashion Week: Ukraine’s Vyshyvanka

The traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirts called vyshyvanka, once relegated to souvenir shops and folk dance performances, made a huge comeback in 2015. The shirts date back at least a hundred years, when the embroidery on the vyshyvanka’s sleeves, front, neck and cuffs was different in each small region of Ukraine; different colors and varying motifs told a detailed story about the person wearing it. Luba Rudenko, Director of MIR’s Ukraine affiliate office, was born and raised in Western Ukraine, where the Hutsul tradition of embroidering and wearing peasant shirts was particularly strong. Here’s her take on the sudden popularity of Ukrainian folk motifs. Read More


Peaceful Holidays in Kiev, Ukraine

Peaceful Holidays in Kiev, Ukraine

Preparations for a peaceful and joyous 2015 holiday season are underway in St. Sophia Square in the center of Kiev, Ukraine. Luba Rudenko, Director of MIR’s affiliate office in Kiev, shared this photo of the square's holiday tree taking shape. St. Sophia's 18th century blue bell tower stands on the east side of thousand-year-old St. Sophia Cathedral, festive in its green and gold cupolas. Built by Byzantine and Kievan masters in the early 11th century, the cathedral (now a museum) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The holiday tree, decorated with apples, oranges, nuts, candies and gingerbread cookies, serves to mark three holiday dates. Read More


Instagram Year in Review: Your Favorite MIR Photos

Instagram Year in Review: Your Favorite MIR Photos

We’ve had a wonderful time sharing photos of fantastic destinations with you this past year on Instagram. It also looks like our followers are enjoying seeing a sneak peek of seeing what’s in store on a trip to Central Asia, the Balkans or Siberia. To date, we’ve had over 6,000 likes on more than 200 posts, and it just keeps growing! Here’s a look at our most popular posts from the past year. Read More


Active Adventures: 6 Hikes We Recommend in Siberia, Ukraine, Romania and along the Silk Road

Active Adventures: 6 Hikes We Recommend in Siberia, Ukraine, Romania and along the Silk Road

“There’s always a great hike in or near any of MIR’s destinations,” says tour manager extraordinaire Martin Klimenta, who has been leading tours for MIR since the 1990s. An active guy who loves to hike, bike and climb, Martin often explores on foot after his MIR travelers have retired to their hotel rooms for the night. “Sometimes on a tour there will be a client who loves to walk, too, and after dark we’ll head out together, just walking around a city for hours until we get hopelessly lost. Then we’ll call a taxi to take us back to the hotel.” Check out a few more formalized hikes recommended by some of MIR's adventurous destination experts. Read More