South of Kyiv about 150 km lies the small farming town of Dmitrevesky. It’s sleepy village atmosphere is exactly the tonic we seek when leaving the city. That elixior includes open spaces and lots of fresh air. Our destination cottage Kalynovy Kutch had been selected by Sophie on the internet and it turned out to be a gem for many reasons.
First – the personal service. Upon our arrival we were greeted by our hostess Nina Nikolevena. She is a diminutive woman in her early 40’s. She actually lives in one of the two story apartment buildings on the main street of Dmitrevesky and walks over to her cottage./B&B property to tend to her guests. She comes in with your first meal and changes into traditional Ukrainian country clothing exhibiting color and fine hand embroidery work.
Second is the food. Nina caters the meals out of her home. Cooking is authentic country fair served in stone wear and each of us received a big wooden spoon to eat with. Her sala and varoniyke offerings were to die for. Just soooo tasty! Garilyka with Propolis (Let’s call it what it was…”Som-oh-gone” or moonshine) was available at our table every meal. Pretty strong stuff but a very tasty drink and without a doubt relaxing!
Third is ambiance. This is a working cottage with chickens, goats, rabbits, as small dog and two cats; the latter two make friends quickly to get the left over fresh milk from breakfast. Nina puts straw on the main floors in the entry foyer, living room/dining room and kitchen….very authentic and practical from a cleanliness standpoint. She has a traditional heating system where the walls get warmed between the two bedrooms and the main stove has the big “shelves” where people can make their beds and sleep during the cold winter months. The land plot includes a tract of land where Nina will grow wheat and corn depending on the annual rotation cycle. We watched the babushkas on the neighboring tracks of land pull small human-powered plows. It looked pretty tough for folks as old as they were but no one was complaining. A swimming lake is about ½ mile down the road with good shallow spots for youngsters.
The cottage is a 3 room affair with running water in the western-style bathroom (this is newly added on to the old cottage house). Nina has decorated her cottage with icons, personal family photos and embroidery pieces, reflecting a traditional village craft found in Ukraine.
Fourth, going beyond to give the special touch. Nina didn’t just haul in food, smile and then send us out on our own. She becomes part of your family if you want and we were so pleased to be able to learn more about her, her family and town. Nina saw that Nadia needed stimulation and put her to work helping weed part of the garden. Nadia loved it! For Tommy he had a new doting auntie to fuss over him. For Sophie and me we had a sister showing us around her region. The highlight was a Easter Sunday afternoon picnic of BBQ-ed white sala, pork meat, salads, garlic bread wedges and tasty treats for desert out in a nearby forest. The high-octane Propolis-"Som-oh-gone" juice make the trip to the woods. We enjoyed seeing a profusion of wild flowers. She also arranged a banya for us in a nearby town; her husband drove us there on Saturday evening.
What’s the bottom line? We will be back. We are coming back for the Varoniyke Festival April 24 and again for the May Day holidays and again in June as time allows. One tip: Bring smaller Herevna. We had 500 Herevna notes and the local stores (all two of them) are overwhelmed with big bills and also suspicious of strangers with new crisp bills. Kalynovy Kutch is just too neat and too close from Kyiv not to make it a regular get away. Cost were very minimal for 4 days for 2 adults and 2 children. Kalynovy Kutch is a bargain for an authentic country cottage. It’s Eco-friendly and a REAL green get away. Thanks Nina! We will be back soon.