Guys seriously why haven’t I blogged in a month? Someone needs to light a little candle under my patootie (censored) so that I write more often.**
Anyways, this past weekend I spent in Kiev which hands down was one of the coolest, oddest, and strangest experiences of my life.
Close your eyes and imagine yourself in this situation. (Or keep them half open to read). Whatever.
You go to bed at midnight after wringing out wet socks from the washing machine that you started way too late in the evening. You set an alarm but don’t sleep at all because you’re afraid that you’ll oversleep and miss your taxi at 4am. You “wake up” from your non-sleeping and your socks are still wet, but it’s either that or plastic bags for footwear so you go with it. You hastily dress and shimmy outside to wait in the moonlight for the creeper airport taxi that slowly slithers its way down your street. You get in even though he has not offered candy.
You finally arrive at the airport and gracefully make your way onto the plane when the stewardess offers you a full row to yourself with extra leg room because “You speak English?” You say yes and smile. You then observe the two men hopping off the plane and watch the flight attendants argue and make the passengers do a security check. After you finally land in Kiev, you join in the roaring applause at 7am to congratulate the pilot on a flight well-landed.
So yes, take that little image in your mind and now pretend that you have exited the airport in Kiev and only see Cyrillic.
By good faith we trusted various strangers instructions to hop onto a bus that looked as though it had been manufactured during the Communist era and then experienced the plagues twice over. (“Is this a joke?”) As we hopped onto the bus, we were greeted by the piercing glares of burly Ukrainian men and women who were clad in black and were wrapped in so many scarves and layers that they just looked like sitting lumps of coal. P.S. I was wearing sneakers and was sporting a massive orange hiking backpack. Just think about that.
HOWEVER, as soon as we asked a fellow passenger for directions, he gave me his seat, and took us all the way to the correct metro and then pointed us along our merry way.* By a huge amount of grace, we actually made it to our hostel in fashionable time. He was probably one of the most helpful people I have ever met and without him I think we would still be riding that bus with those babushka-clad women.
He was only one of many Ukrainian people who helped us around this weekend. At one point we asked a stranger for directions to the opera house, and instead he gave us an hour and a half tour of Kiev’s best sights. Additionally, he knew all of his history and so of course I was in heaven. I’m not saying he was an angel, but also I’m not saying he wasn’t. (Also, Kiev’s history is SUPER old and awesome and I’d love to share it with you sometime if you’re curious. If not, shame on you.)
Also, we had FANTASTIC hostel-roomates (Russian!!!, German) and we also talked to people from Vancouver, and Australia; it was such a riot to talk to discuss their experiences, their travels, and their lives. On the plane ride home, I talked the full hour to a Ukrainian couple who have traveled everywhere, and who talked over each other so much that I just nodded and tried to keep up with two conversations.
Wait, there’s more!
The churches! Oh my stars the churches were UNREAL. So many golden domes and beautiful, beautiful colors that you just had to stand there and smile. It was the oddest thing, seeing these towering turkish/orthodox churches amidst communist style housing and buildings. But the juxtaposition just worked.
I could tell so many stories about this trip, but I’ll just end with this one:
One day in front of St. Michaels I was just chilling around taking pictures when a man walked over and put a bird on my arm. (Spoiler: I hate birds SO MUCH). I started to freak, and against my better judgement I gave him my camera. (Why you ask? I don’t know. Like I said, I was freaking out). As soon as he started to take pictures, another bird-bearing woman put another bird ON MY HEAD and I started to squeal. “Take it off! Take it off! No! No!” and she took it off and was like “Well sheesh”. Or at least that’s what I imagine she was thinking.
After I finally made the guy give me back my camera, he began to ask for money. I responded, “I don’t have money.” “10 Euro,” he said. I said, “I have two Euro. I’ll give you two. Or I’ll delete my pictures.” But he was persistent. He said, “I give you my time, you give me your money. You no delete pictures.” It was awkward. He started to yell; I started to get queasy and look for a policeman. At this point Christian came over and said, “She didn’t want a picture; she’s not going to pay.” We argued some more. We tried to walk away. He stopped us. We argued some more. I started to feel sick. He grabbed Christian. Christian yelled, “DON’T TOUCH ME”. And we ran.
^^ that was the condensed version and in real life it was way longer and more dramatic and scary.
It was awful. So awful. And I handled it so poorly.
So let that be a lesson. Never give cameras to bird-bearing people. Don’t even look at them if you are wearing sneakers.
Okay, now that we’ve gotten depressed, let me say that I only have 10 weeks left here and I’m already feeling sad to leave.
*Never in my entire life have I ever ridden a metro so crowded and busy. Personal bubbles were completely inexistent and people crammed on even when there wasn’t room. “There’s always room for one more!”
**Okay, but in my defense I keep a personal journal every night. You just can’t read it.
***Stray dogs! Were everywhere! I just wanted to pet them all and cry.
****On the tram home I saw my French twin and all I did was stare. It was like Freaky Friday but better and more nauseating (because of the tram).