Hello, hello, hello! Do I have a good story for yall or what and it involves my most recent travels to the Ukraine. Yes, for some reason just saying Ukraine doesn’t ring to well so my friend and I have denoted it as “the Ukraine”. I am super blessed because I got to spend my last two weekends with this gal! First she journeyed all the way to Istanbul to experience Turkey for herself and then this past weekend we met up in Kiev. In her words – true friends accompany you to freezing cold, snow and ice covered cities – she is my true friend and I hers – we kinda go together like Belgian beer and stroopwaffles. However, if you have the choice, accompany your true friend to Kiev in the summer. An awesome city in winter so I can only imagine the splendor when you are not preoccupied with freezing feet and worried about if you will get frostbite. Thankfully, no frostbite was had…but we were concerned (:
Now my trip to the Ukraine made me quite grateful. For one thing, knowing even a few words in a foreign language is unbelievably helpful. The language of body signals and hand gestures was exacerbated this weekend. Good thing we have both spent a decent amount of time in Italy. Even writing on the ceilings of the taxi cab was resorted too. Never do you feel as lost as when you are a single white female traipsing through snow drifts in a post-soviet nation after dark. It’s cool parents, I made my way to safety as swiftly as possible and I assure you that I will avoid such experiences in my future whenever possible. Turning on my American phone may have been resorted too….who am I kidding it totally was. While I was worried about my friend’s safety she was worried about my safety. Thankfully I was not held up in immigration services as the women in the airport had her believe and after an absolutely failed plan of meeting up we finally were reunited in the safety and cozy environment of our hostel. We will chalk that all up to everything going wrong that could of gone wrong, starting with my 5 hour flight delay and her giving me a combination of her Italian French phone numbers – confusion to the max.
I am also grateful that snowfall has yet come to Istanbul. For one thing, I slip walking the hills around campus when it is raining, put some ice or snow down and well I would be the epitome of screwed, aka bruised booty at all times. If it comes to that I might as well call it a day, grab a sled and at least have some enjoyment when going downhill. Somehow we were able to stumble our way through the snow and ice covered sidewalks. And by stumble I mean slipping, sliding, falling and always fearing your life. But hey falling didn’t hurt because all the layers we were wearing worked as padding. My friend was spooked too many times to recall with every time I lost my footing while my response was just to laugh. While the temperatures had creeped down into the negatives and gave me my first real taste of winter we somehow made the best of the frigid temps. Long lunches and tea breaks were a daily occurrence. Not to mention sitting in the heated National Opera House watching the ballet for $2.50 warmed our hearts and bones.
We met some great people throughout the weekend too. Some that were close to home (hailing from the Chicago area) and even one who we shared a mutual friend with – what?!?! Yeah. Small world. But one thing is certain, many of the people we crossed paths with were completely perplexed with why we chose to travel to Kiev in winter for pleasure. Well, having experienced it as winter I now know why they had such perplexities.
Oh yeah, and the whole thing about the Ukraine being the Italy of Eastern Europe, well I can believe that. The food was delicious and for the student’s budget is was perfect. You just can’t beat a serving of dumplings for the low price of 90 cents. Unreal. Let’s not mention free shots of vodka as the palette cleanser when leaving the restaurant because that will send me over the top with food nostalgia.
So basically to sum it all up, I give high marks to Kiev, but be kind to your body and bones and go when it is a tad warmer if you can swing it. Or buy an arctic voyager’s warm suit pre-departure. Be sure to take the arctic voyager’s warm boots with good traction too –> those are key to rockin’ the streets of Kiev like the local Ukranians who take no prisoners when walking. It was like our tour guide was in a speed walking competition. Hey Galina, slowwwww downnnnn!!!!
Life of Pi Movie Ad – Super excited to see this in theaters – director Ang Lee is an Illini Alum (:
Serious bundling up is necessary
The buildings were easter egg palette colored
Gorgeous outlook of the Dnieper River
St. Michael’s Golden Domed Monastery
St. Michael’s Bell Tower
Allyce all bundled up
Good luck statue
Russian Nesting Dolls
St. Andrew’s Church
Traipsing through snow drifts in the park
Alice in Wonderland Park
St. Sophia Cathedral – ties to Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (:
Park at night
First round of borscht
Rolls with garlic to go along with the borscht
Tour to Chornobyl was cancelled so going to the museum was our second best option
Ukrainian Dipping sauces
Round two of borscht
These street vendors have perseverance to stand and sell their goods out in the cold and snow
Trying to stay warm while walking Andrew’s Descent
Huge icicles with St. Andrew’s Church
St. Sophia Cathedral
Mural made with Ukrainian painted easter eggs
St. Sophia Cathedral
The metros were super deep! Just one of the many we rode
The metro was super 1970s – really cool that they were painted with the national colors
Cheers from Kiev (in spirit)