Friday, November 1, 2013

The lake

Back when the city was still swaddled in greenery and thunderstorms provided a chilly respite from the summer heat, D and I went out in search of an adventure.

This was the same afternoon we photographed the odd mix of art / graffiti that decorates Akademika Pavlova street. I remember feeling so relaxed that day; we actually had a whole afternoon off (it was Saturday) to wander around and not be at the constant beck and call of others. A student met us at the Akademika Pavlova metro stop in order to get her new coursebook for our private lessons and then- freedom. Sweet, sweet freedom.

Off we went, down the road. To one side was a high wall and an empty, weather-worn security booth. Aside from the traffic to our right, we were alone.
And then, as desolate as that view was, we reached the intersection of Akademika Pavlova and Blyukhera street and it all changed.
Housewives shook the dust out of rugs from their balconies on the 9th floor. Cars honked. People rushed down into the Studentska metro station like ants disappearing into their subterranean tunnels.

Operating solely on guesswork, we took a left. Looking at Google maps now I can see that this was probably the right decision in terms of cool stuff to see. If we had gone right, it would have been a long walk down a road that eventually ended next to a vast nothingness. Turning left meant a pleasant kilometer of sidewalk before hitting the lake.

And it was really pleasant! Cool breezy weather, moms pushing baby strollers, students flying by on bicycles. I look at the pictures now and they look a little depressing, like this one:
The saddest chebureki stand ever?
- but it's probably just the overcast weather that's giving that dilapidated tinge to everything.

I think :p

This church across the road was under construction. New? Old? It's always hard to tell. Just beyond it were campuses of the National Pharmaceutical University and the Kharkov National Pedagogical University.
Then the road ended but we saw others continuing on and vanishing into tall grass. We followed suit and wham! this massive lake suddenly materialized before us!
View from the end of the lake. Blyukhera street ends near that tall modern apartment building in the distance.
No one was swimming but the shouts of happy children rang out from islands in the middle of the lake. A trail of empty beer bottles led us to this stellar example of a dock.
It proved sturdy enough, though, and it was the perfect place to stand and look out over the water.
Staircase leading to the dock
We still couldn't believe we'd stumbled on such a peaceful spot in the middle of a congested residential/retail area. Honestly, if we move again I wouldn't mind living in an apartment near here!
Although it looks empty in these pictures, lots of people were out and about, trying to get in a couple more minutes of nature before the weather changed for the worse. Twenty or so picnickers mingled and laughed under a huge willow tree. Couples nestled next to each other on benches overlooking the lake. The occasional lone pedestrian walked by, sometimes with a cell phone to their ear, ignoring the beautiful scenery.
After lots of discussion and finally glimpsing the massive monument to brand-name consumerism that is Caravan in the distance, we realized that this place is the back side (?) of the Zhuravlevsky Hydropark. This made us sad, because it's the first time we'd been back to this area since a friend drowned here last spring. Water is really so sneaky- it's tranquil and welcoming at times, deadly at others.

The clouds finally made good on their promise and everyone at the lake made a dash for shelter. We ended up getting jostled along the crowded sidewalks near Caravan, dodging umbrellas (a serious weapon in these parts!), until a sheer sheet of water poured down and drenched everyone completely, umbrellas or not.
We made it home eventually, shoes squishing, hair dripping, grateful to have had another summer afternoon for exploring.


  1. Kharkiv seems so gloomy and Soviet city.....

    1. It's doesn't always look like that! Look here-

      Come and visit, Lena, and I'll change your mind! : )

  2. The picture on the very top, with the green wall....I love the texture and grunginess of it. Are you now permanently in Ukraine? And I really really really need to send you something I've had for you for months and months. Email me your address OK?

    1. Privet, Vesna :) Permanently? I have no idea.... D certainly hopes not :p I'll email you, thanks for stopping by!

  3. Hey there, I am new on Kharkov, I have been here for a month and I am amazed with what I have seen so far of this thriving city, I am an architect from Venezuela, I am glad to know that there is someone else out there. You have a great blog here, it would be nice to get in contact. Cheers !

    1. Welcome, Armando! What brings you to Ukraine? It would be really interesting to hear your story! I'll look you up on vk : )