Wednesday, October 30, 2013

5 things you (probably) didn't know you could do in Kharkov

You know those days when you really should be doing something productive... but you find yourself wandering aimlessly through the hours instead?

That day is today.

So let's hang out together on the internet and avoid the outside world for just a little bit longer. Because-
picture found on

Here are 5 totally spur-of-the-moment-things-I-just-thought-of that you probably didn't know you could do in Kharkov.

1. Badminton.

We rolled out of bed early a couple of times this summer to play badminton in a huge open court downtown. If you look carefully, you may even be able to spot D in the picture above ; )

The gym was always filled with people. Enthusiastic little kids ran after shuttlecocks. Couples playfully challenged other couples. Old men worked up a sweat in ultra-competitive rounds against other old men.
the lobby

It's not all fun and games, though. There's some seriousness and games too. The Kharkiv Badminton Federation hosted a tournament last month which included players from almost two dozen countries.

PS: If I recall correctly, we played at the "School of Highest Sportsmanship" on Dynamivska Street. A list of places to play badminton in Kharkov is available here

2. Let's go pole dancing!

Badminton not your thing? Try pole dancing! I'm cursing myself now for not getting a photo of this, but pole dancing advertisements (usually featuring a scantily-clad, high-heel-wearing woman on a pole) have been all over the metro for at least a year now. I have a certain student- an extremely sweet, quiet, and demure young woman in her twenties- who always surprises me a bit when I ask her what she did the previous day: "I went to work at the call center. Then I went home and knitted. Oh, and then I went pole dancing. And then I knitted some more."

Here's one dance place I did manage to photograph. As you can see below, the Al Dance School offers a High-Heels dance class which, according to their website, "will be enjoyed by everyone who wants to learn how to walk nicely, dance, even run in their heels."

Strip-plastic, meanwhile, is "a dance of sensuality, passion and incomparable beauty.... It's something every girl should learn."

But if neither of those float your boat, there's good old-fashioned stretching and aerobics on the menu too.

3. Join a (Russian) speaking club for foreigners.

If you're in Kharkov and interested in learning a new language, definitely take note of the Language Exchange Club. As a matter of fact, there's a Russian speaking club for foreigners meeting tomorrow (Friday) night at the anti-cafe "Doma".

To quote the organizer:
Welcome to our club of Russian-lovers! In our club you can chat in Russian (and you would not believe it! with a native speaker!), find new friends and just have a wonderful time. So join us to start speaking like a native ;)

I suggest following the Language Exchange club either on Facebook or on vk for there's always something interesting in the works, like an Italian/Spanish/English/etc conversation club or a native speaker of some language popping into town for a few days and looking for people to hang out with.
but, uh, don't be like this :p  
picture found on

4. Observe business and advertising a-la-Ukraine.

Speaking of languages, after one walk around town you'll surely notice how it's popular here to give English names to businesses, regardless of how much sense that name actually makes. Take a peek at these goodies-

Welcome to "Deep Town internet club"! I'm not really sure what Deep Town refers to, but there's also a "Deep Town Hotel" in Sevastopol.

Additionally, the advertising and PR guys here really earn their money. Here are a couple of odds and ends that I've seen on the city streets-
Ad for a beauty salon. Written at the bottom: We have men working here!
Ad in the metro for a company that makes steel doors to order. (If you're scratching your head at the idea of a steel door, you haven't spent enough time in Ukraine. They're practically a rite of passage here.) For some reason this ad always catches my eye, perhaps because of the severe white-on-red lettering or maybe because of the Atlas-looking dude down in the corner.
Best ad for air conditioning ever!
The Ave Plaza shopping mall (on the right, looks like a Borg cube) conducts its a rather grand advertising campaign by photo-shopping itself next to many of the Wonders of the World. 
I'm going to call this political ad campaign a bomb. This man looks terrifying! Although, to be fair, his message is "Don't sell out!" and his eyes do communicate that pretty well.

5) Get your pillow cleaned.

It's true. Just look for a van like this in your neighborhood.
Not all at once, everyone! There's more than enough to go around!

Phew! We did it! Avoided reality together just a little bit longer : ) Thanks!


  1. Reading this brings back the good (and not so good memories) of living in Kharkov. I lived there for 10 years before I moved to Denver, USA over a year ago :) Thanks for posting great comments about the city I really like!

    Natalie from Denver

    1. Thanks for coming by the blog, Natalie! I'm happy that this entry rekindled some pleasant memories for you : )

  2. I don't know about hotel's name, but origin of the name of the Internet club "Deep Town" might be from here

    1. That is SO cool that you mentioned this!!! It probably is why they chose that name for their business. Btw, the series sounds like a really interesting read, I'm going to try to track down a copy of book 1!

    2. There is an amateur translation of the 1-st book on the Internet. It can be found fairly easy.
      Also I came across this page (, but since February nothing has changed: I haven't found any official book to buy.
      Alas, 2-nd and 3-rd book, as it seems, have no translations whatsoever.
      "Watch" series is widely present though (all five of them).

    3. Thank you! Looks like a good translation and a good read.