Weekend Wrap Up

The tournament has finally arrived and the European Championships 2012 are underway. In the worst timing that could be possible, the internet at our apartment is not working, despite all efforts. So, I’m not able to post as often as I would like. We are currently at a McDonald’s to get something scribbled out.

Everything is going surprisingly well so far. Our friends Barney and Yuri arrived yesterday, we had a wonderful yet quick meal with them and then they headed off to L’viv. After they were safely on the train, we walked back into the city from the train station. P.S. That is a hike. But anyway… The Fan Zone on Khreshchatyk is a nice space, albeit annoying to get in. Apparently when you have a camera bigger than a point and shoot, they require you to go through a special entrance, which naturally, is the one furthest from our apartment. Last night, we watched both the Poland vs. Greece and Russia vs. Czech on the huge screens that are set up in the Maidan. If we are able to get our internet going, I’ll post more frequently in the next two days. On Monday, we head to Poland and the adventures continue. I’m meeting up with my high school bud, Marisa, and we’re taking on Eastern Europe together – by train!

Here are some pics…

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Jaro with our new toy. 

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The big screen in Maidan.

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Russia scores. 

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I Knew I Was In Ukraine When

This post is meant to be a funny, anecdotal collection of some of my experiences here in Kyiv. It has been interesting and hilarious! …So, without further adieu, I knew I was in Ukraine when:

– we were in line to clear customs and the customs agent just left her desk. And never came back. We had to eventually realize this and go stand in a different line.

– cars that don’t feel like waiting in terrible traffic… don’t. They just drive on the sidewalk.

– Jaro asked our landlord about a cleaning service and he responded, “What? You have a wife.”

– we went to the open air market and it means exactly what it says. Raw meat, fish and cheese is just… Out in the open air. And no, it’s not on ice either.

– while attending the Kyiv vs. Donetsk futbol game, fireworks exploded. Inside the stadium. At first I thought they were gun shots, but then was only slightly relieved that it was just a bunch of pyros holding flares. They throw the burning remnants onto the grass and the security guards have to go pick them all up.

– we used the metro which is actually a system of old nuclear war bunkers that have been retrofitted. You know, where people could go to survive a nuclear explosion. I thought we were taking escalators to the center of the earth.

– while visiting the very popular Kiev Pechersk Lavra (Monastery of the Caves), we watched women in stilettos climb nearly 45 degree angle cobblestone streets. I think we sat and watched the suffering for about half an hour. Traveler Tip: This whole area was really quite beautiful and well-maintained. It is amazing to me how much respect is paid to to the deceased. I had to wear a shawl on my head and we all had candles to light our path through the caves. Very cool!

That’s it for the excitement this visit, thanks for reading!

An American Girl in Kyiv

Writing a quick entry to let you know how we are doing in Ukraine. Everything is pretty good! There are some major cultural differences between here and Amsterdam and I think that is just part of the experience of living in both eastern and western Europe – they are different! Here in Kyiv, from the people (lots of beggars and drunks), to fashion (lots of stilettos and acid wash) to the food (lots of “American” attempts #fail) to the architecture (lots of beautiful churches and then crumbling streets), it is a bit of a culture shock. It takes some getting used to it. Jaro and I spent the weekend exploring all over the city so the I could get to know my way around. Now that he is at work, I feel very comfortable on my own with our immediate surroundings. Key word: immediate. However, I do have a map and know how to use it. When Jaro was here in August, he found us an apartment off the main shopping stretch- Kreschatik. All the major designers have stores here. It is a bustling and very dangerous part of the city. Dangerous because of all the shops, of course. Thank you, Jaro, for finding something where I feel right at home! The apartment itself is very nice, completely renovated, clean and new. From the stairwell, you would never know… It looks like the stairway to hell. Like a war zone. Like the type that would inspire a horror movie. Also, the apartment across from us has a padded leather door, I’m pretty sure a mad scientist lives there. And yes, you can hear the political protests from our balcony. A man sits on a stage with a microphone and shouts. All. Day. Every. Day. Ahh, city livin’. I am having difficulty with the language, since it is a different alphabet. This was expected. Reading streets signs and menus is hard (okay, impossible), but some things have English translation which obviously helps a lot. Of course, I can read price tags so that gets me by! Jaro taught me some basic Ukrainian phrases over the weekend and we will keep working on building that. What makes it frustrating is the lack of Ukrainian spoken here – everyone speaks Russian. Poor Jaro tries to communicate with people and it’s a struggle. But, his Russian will get better (even though he really doesn’t want to resort to it), which will make things easier for us. So far so good with food. We’ve had a few misses (several “um… Let’s not finish that”), but overall we have eaten at nice restaurants. I will post more soon about things we have done and seen here. Again, once we get our computer I’ll be able to start sharing pictures via Flickr or Facebook. Thanks for reading!

xxx