“Primitive” Prymachenko: National Artist of Ukraine

“Primitive” Prymachenko: National Artist of Ukraine

Born in 1909, Maria Prymachenko spent her long life in a Ukrainian village with the humble name of Bolotniya, which means marsh or swamp. As a girl she came down with polio, which interfered with her schooling and left her with a painful limp. But her vivid imagination and irrepressible use of color made her a giant in the Ukrainian art world in spite of, or perhaps because of, the limitations she encountered. Her fantastical paintings of imaginary beasts, birds, flowers and ordinary villagers doing everyday things brightened the walls of Kiev’s Art Arsenal earlier this year in a first-ever retrospective of more than 300 of her works. Read More


6 Hands-On Fun, Fascinating and Educational Travel Experiences

6 Hands-On Fun, Fascinating and Educational Travel Experiences

Are you one of those people who prefers to learn by doing, rather than by watching? You like to jump right in and get your hands into the paint, or the flour, or the dirt, to put on a hardhat and go where the action is. You can take the heat in the kitchen – in fact, you go looking for it. As it turns out, quite a few of MIR's intrepid travelers are this type of bold and action-oriented person. And we like to keep you happy learning to do things you may have never done before. Here’s a roundup of six fascinating and perhaps challenging hands-on experiences you can have on our small group tours. Read More



5 Formerly Forbidden Places, Now Ready for Travelers

5 Formerly Forbidden Places, Now Ready for Travelers

The world is opening more and more to curious travelers. So many places that were once forbidden are now everyday destinations. Take Vladivostok, Russia’s rather ordinary Pacific Rim port on the country’s east coast. Due to its importance as a border zone city, Vladivostok was declared off-limits to foreigners and even most Russians following WWII. It was only on January 1 1992, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, that the city was declared officially open, and began to welcome travelers. MIR regularly introduces travelers to Vladivostok via the Trans-Siberian Railway (it's the end of the line) and on handcrafted, custom private trips. Here are five formerly forbidden places you can travel to with MIR... Read More


5 FAQs About Travel to Ukraine

5 FAQs About Travel to Ukraine

Bigger than either France or Germany, Ukraine is much less frequented and more unspoiled. A visit to Ukraine is packed with contrasting experiences. The region has for centuries been known for its rich soil and farmlands. But there is far more to Ukraine than tractors, sunflowers and wheat fields. Here are some common questions we are asked about Ukraine... Read More


Ukraine’s Painted Eggs: An Ancient Art

Ukraine’s Painted Eggs: An Ancient Art

Ukraine and decorated eggs: they go together like Persia and hand-woven carpets. They’re gorgeous and make great gifts, but watching local artisans create them is even more amazing. In Ukrainian, these brilliantly-decorated eggs are called pysanky, from the verb “to write.” Designs aren't painted, but instead drawn on with melted wax using a pinpoint stylus. The symbols, motifs and chosen colors on the finished eggs have specific meanings and originally could be read as messages from different regions of the country. Read More



Star Wars: The Force is Strong in Croatia, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and Russia

Star Wars: The Force is Strong in Croatia, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and Russia

Recently Dubrovnik, Croatia, got some star-studded attention as one of the filming locations for Episode VIII of the Star Wars franchise. Already a TV star, Dubrovnik has appeared as King’s Landing in the popular series Game of Thrones, its winding cobbled streets and medieval stone fortresses doubling as authentic fantasy locations. This news made us curious about hidden connections between Star Wars and other countries we love... Read More


From Folk Wear to Fashion Week: Ukraine’s Vyshyvanka

From Folk Wear to Fashion Week: Ukraine’s Vyshyvanka

The traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirts called vyshyvanka, once relegated to souvenir shops and folk dance performances, made a huge comeback in 2015. The shirts date back at least a hundred years, when the embroidery on the vyshyvanka’s sleeves, front, neck and cuffs was different in each small region of Ukraine; different colors and varying motifs told a detailed story about the person wearing it. Luba Rudenko, Director of MIR’s Ukraine affiliate office, was born and raised in Western Ukraine, where the Hutsul tradition of embroidering and wearing peasant shirts was particularly strong. Here’s her take on the sudden popularity of Ukrainian folk motifs. Read More