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You're reading: My Independence Day story: Shacks by the sea

Like most other families in Ukraine, we neither dreamed of, nor could afford, travelling abroad. I used to spend three glorious summer months either skipping over the rope in our backyard or at the camping site sunbathing with grandparents. Very rarely did we manage to escape to the seaside as a family.

Twin featureless Soviet-built hotels – now shedding paint and bricks – back then looked modern and stylish. They were slowly taking over the beach in Odessa Oblast and Crimea.

We didn’t have the money to stay in one of them and instead booked trips to a sanatorium in Crimea through my mother’s work. As a nurse, she was entitled to spend two weeks in a sanatorium with a large discount to improve her health.

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