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6:28pm on Monday, 18th April, 2011:
Continuing the occasional series...
Kharkov. Or, if you prefer, Kharkiv.
OK, so this is a bit different from the other cities on my list of places I'm not all that fussed about visiting because even the Kharkov visitors' guide begins "not exactly the most popular destination for a western tourist". However, it's somewhere I ought to want to go to, but don't particularly wish to do so.
The reason I ought to want to go there is because when I was a kid, we used to play this board game set in Napoleonic times called Campaign. One of the four Russian cities on the board was Kharkov (which is in the Ukraine, but that was part of Russia back then). I always liked the name of this, and wondered if one day I might get to visit it. Of course, the fact that it was behind the Iron Curtain made this but a distant fancy, but nevertheless I liked the romance of the name enough to research it.
What I discovered was that it's a pretty ordinary provincial town. It's got a nice cathedral, a huge town square (bigger than Red Square in Moscow) (not as big as Universitetskaya Square in Moscow, though) that they have some kind of sand sculpture event in every year, and they make a lot of tanks there. Lvov, at the other end of the Ukraine, looks like a place worth going out of my way to visit, but not Khrakov. It's not ugly or grimy or anything, it's just ... normal. Unlike other cities I want to visit as a result of playing games with them in (I finally did get to visit Visby!), this one I don't. I thought I'd mention it so you'd know I'm not always a sucker for exotic-named cities I come across first in games. I am, however, sufficiently a sucker to keep referring to Ukraine as "the Ukraine" for no discernable reason except it sounds like it should have its own definite object.
So: in Campaign, yes; in real life, no. Sorry, Kharkov.
Yet millions of tourists, well, actually they seem to agree with me this time.
(Oh, and for those of you who want to know what happened to place #10, I appear to have had two places #9 (Barcelona and Bali) so I skipped #10 to compensate...)
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