Finally, winter is over. Not many consider it their favourite season in Ukraine, but the last six months have, of course, been especially tough. Imagine never knowing when missiles or killer drones will appear overhead. Imagine wondering if the brave Ukrainian defenders will continue to hold their position between your town and the invading, murderous Russians.
Then add the stark reality that you no longer have reliable heating, electricity or water services because Putin’s force specifically destroys public infrastructure. Suddenly, you’re desperately trying to get your family through a very cold and dark winter. But imagine the relief when you realize the days are getting longer and most importantly, the temperature is now well above freezing.
Saturday was the first day of Spring in Kyiv with clear blue skies and sunny hot weather. For the first time this year, Hotel Bursa’s rooftop bar was open and by 6pm there was a line-up 40 people deep. Considering the ‘death from above’ winter many have endured, it’s no surprise the revellers needed to blow-off some steam.
It was such a fun, wonderful and heart-warming evening. As many of you know, I’ve been a Hotel Bursa guest since August of last year. Considering my time here plus their appreciation of the work I’ve done to help plan the rebuilding of their country, the staff created a cocktail named after me – The Old Cold! A variation of my long-time favourite Old Fashioned, The Old Cold is made with maple syrup instead of sugar to give it a genuine Canadian twist. And it’s called cold because my Ukrainian last name, Holod, actually means cold.
In preparation for the opening, Bursa hired a bunch of new staffers. Thank goodness they did because all were run off their feet as over 200 people ascended to the roof to enjoy some Spring fever. Everyone was in great spirits eating, drinking and rocking to the non-stop sound of cocktail shakers and 80s hits plus current dance music. Everyone took turns at the railing proudly taking selfies with the Ukrainian flag blowing behind them in the brilliant breeze over the rooftops of Kyiv.
Parts of Ukraine are now a cratered wasteland of destroyed homes and ghost towns for absolutely no good reason. However, you can sense that the people are revived because they’ve made it through the dead of winter during wartime. Spring, sunshine and warmth have re-energized and fortified the indomitable Ukrainian sprirt. The country’s invincible courage soars far above any rooftop restaurant.
Slava Ukraini! Heroiam Slava!