Gimme a hug

I like people. I really do, and I’m always looking to meet new folks and make new friends. Perhaps this is why I’ve been having the time of my life at Hotel Bursa in Kviv over the last nine months. As my Ukrainian ‘family’ would say, I’ve truly been living my best life, and that’s involved a lot of hugging.

Admittedly, I’m naturally a huggy person – I like to greet and say goodbye with a hug. To me a hug is a simple gesture of shared humanity. Like a handshake but perhaps more authentic. I realize not everyone likes hugs because they can be considered an invasion of one’s personal space, but I’ve found that over time most people warm up to the gesture if it’s sincere.

A typical morning

I believe my genuine fondness for people combined with a hug has opened an incredible world for me in Kyiv. I’m referring to the staff at Hotel Bursa plus their friends & family who I’ve come to know through random chance, party crashing or genuine invitation during wartime. 

Every morning I grab my laptop and head to the lobby for my essential double-cappuccino. There I always find either Tonia or Sasha who I call ‘Sunshine’ because of her wonderful countenance and megawatt smile. As I proclaim “dobre ranock”, whoever’s behind the desk comes out for a good morning hug.

Next, I’m usually intercepted by one of the hotel security guys who leaves his post for a morning hug. I’ll make my way across the lobby and hug a few of the cleaning staff and the hotel engineer along the way. I then do my rounds of the gang in the restauarant, including the kitchen team and dishwasher, before sitting at my patio table for another morning on the computer.

New friends & interesting people

My quest to meet people has also contributed to a fascinating litany of astonishingly interesting folks I’ve met just by making eye contact and starting a chat over a coffee or meal at the hotel. I’ve met journalists, actors, humanitarians, soldiers, students, ambassadors, rock stars, models, celebrity chefs and atomic energy inspectors in the Bursa lobby or restaurant, and I’m now on a hug basis with all of them. 

It’s been an incredibly humbling experience to meet so many amazing people and share a bit of our lives together. It’s also great because I now have friends all over the world who can advise me on local hotels and restaurants wherever I go – and I always have a dinner partner.

The world can be a wonderful place even during times of war and upheaval. A hug may be just a simple gesture, but it’s also a powerful motivator to surround yourself with good friends and ‘family’ wherever you travel.

Slava Ukraini!  Heroiam Slava!