Monday, June 2, 2008

Visit to Ukraine (Part 1)

Saturday evening: Went to a concert of Kostya's band "Make Up". They were rocking, as always. Lots of friends showed up and a good time was had by all.

Sunday: Had breakfast with Maria, Leonid, and Olga. Leonid made his traditional Sunday egg-cellent creations. For our flight to Kiev, we left for the airport almost 2 hours before our flight, but we almost didn't make it in time. (1) We went to the wrong terminal. (2) Rossiya airlines was so understaffed that they didn't even finish ticketing everybody before the time the flight was supposed to leave. (3) The passport control line was just as long as the ticketing line. After getting through security, it was 4:35 -- 5 minutes after the plane was supposed to leave. We ran around the airport (there are only a few gates) trying to find anybody we recognized from the line (because the flight was not listed on the screen).

After some panicking, we found out that the flight hadn't even started boarding yet. We landed almost 2 hours late, and also I had moved my watched 1 hour in the wrong direction due to a time zone confusion, so we arrived at 7pm (but I thought it was 9pm -- the exact time the management office closes for the apartment we rented). We called the management company and they agreed to send somebody to pick us up. We got all unpacked and were wondering why it is so light out at 11pm.

We walked around some fun parts of the city, explore the underground Metro system (which is EXACTLY like the St Petersburg Metro, down to the trains and the stations and the excalators and everything - when the Soviets make something they like, they don't fool around), and even ran into a wild celebration for International Children's Day. It had singers and dancers on stage, David Blane-type illusions complete with aerial acrobatics from a huge crane, fireworks, and lots of drinking. We were amazed that the celebration for childen goes past 1:00 in the morning!

Monday: Realized our watches were set two hours off (which was nice because I thought I woke up at 2:30pm!) Walked around Kiev a lot more. To me, it seems much more individualized and clean than St. Petersburg. The people

seem freer, most relaxed, and they dress more like Western Europeans / Americans. There are parks and beautiful hillside views. Had lots of fun authentic Ukrainian food to eat at a cafeteria-style restaurant. We are staying right on the river, but we haven't explored that area yet. Went to the Mikhail Bulgakov museum, which is in the house he lived, partially decorated like when he lived there, partially decorated like in his novel White Guard. Visited the Golden Gate (it looks like a city border gate built out of huge Lincoln Logs). Bought train tickets to visit Nezhin tomorrow.

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