Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Weekend in Kiev

We have had a great time this weekend! It was almost like a mini vacation within our trip. Well maybe the "vacation" experience started after we signed some paperwork at the Embassy. I was also really excited about going to Kiev because they have McDonalds. Yes my friend I was excited about McDonalds. I do love Ukrainian food but there is something about a burger (of any kind) that I craved so much! I ate McDonalds four times during the weekend. I have never done that before in case you are wondering. I am really not even a fan of McDonalds. Oh well, when you want a burger, you do what you have to do. :) I even had a McDouble (a first for me) so I would enjoy my experience twice. ;)

On Saturday Ken and I were able to buy souvenirs across the street from where we had our SDA appointment. That was an interesting experience. There were so many stands lined up along this one road next to the SDA office. Ken and I walked all the way down the street (maybe a half mile) in search of the perfect souvenirs. Well when we realized we were near the end and had not found anything. We were not sure of what to do. I mean there were plenty of beautiful things but we knew they charged way to much and gave us a "discount" only because we were tourists. Of course, everyone does that! But we were looking for a guy our facilitator had told us about and how he has always been great and given good prices to everyone she has brought there. She told us the road he would be on and the corner he would be on. Well we got confused and went across the street from where he was and went all the way down that street. So when we couldn't find him, we went all the way back to the start where we came from. We saw some shops across the street from where we were and decided to try those out. Well what do you know, the first stand we went to happened to be his shop. We didn't know it at the time though. We just decided he was really nice, helpful, spoke really good English, and knew what he was talking about. He told me all about the difference between a Russian and Ukrainian doll. If you are wondering, The Russian stacking doll is not very ornate where as the Ukrainian one is covered in beautiful painted flowers and decorations wearing the traditional Ukrainian outfit. Russian dolls are also painted the same from the big one to the small one, whereas the Ukrainian dolls are different paintings on each (Mama, Papa, children, dog, etc). Did you know that the woman is the first and biggest doll and then the papa is smaller inside because the woman is seen as the boss of the house? The traditional way for the dolls to be made is Momma first, then the papa, then the kids, then the pet. You learn something new everyday don't you! Maybe he is just proud of Ukraine so he went on and on about them but I didn't care. I was hooked. So we decided to buy all of our souvenirs from him. Well, it turns out that he was the one we were supposed to go to from the start. :)

Ken's backpack was filled to the brim when we were done with our shopping.

We then met up with our translator and the Theinemans to go to the Chornobyl museum and then the circus. The Chornobyl museum was very interesting, sad, and sobering to think about. Especially with what has just happened in Japan.

The museum

A picture of the nuclear plant after it exploded (you might need to zoom in)

A map of the radiation cloud. Kiev is in bold right in the middle of the picture below the yellow.

A key for the map.

The Chornobyl plant disaster happened April 28, 1986.

These are signs that are crossed out because people can no longer live in that city.

I could not get this to crop right but this is a picture of someone holding a radiation detector in 2007. A team went back to Chornobyl in 2007 to check the radiation levels in the city. The normal radiation level  is 25, after the accident it was at 5,000. In 2007, it was at 35. So it had gone down a lot but not all of the way to normal in 21 years. I am not sure what it is at today, 25 years later.

"Chornobyl, the worst man made catastrophe"

After that we were off to the circus. I was really excited! I had no idea of what to expect but it turned out to be an amazing experience! Everything was beautiful, I mean some outfits were pretty sketchy but other than that it was fun. I was curious about the animals and how they were treated. I know that is crazy but I would have hated to pay money to see animals being mistreated. Every set of animals that came out had their own trainers. Each trainer took really good care of the animals, from what I could see at least, and gave them lots of treats. I know that in a circus, animals are not in the natural habitat and everything, but these seemed to have been really taken care of and trained really well. They were all super cute with little costumes. My favorite one was when a big dog (the size of a great dane) came out and was dressed as a lion. It really looked like a lion too! Good thing I had my contacts in. I know poor dog, but it was really cute! We also saw porcupines, monkeys, seals and parrots. This circus was a water theme and most all of the people performances took place in the water or one the small stages above. The scariest one was the tightrope act. Bah, it made me so nervous because they were up so high and sometimes not hooked on to anything. I told Ken, "I better not see someone die here in a second!" It was ok though and no one died. Whew! I wish I had pictures of the acts. They said for no pictures so I didn't think about taking them without flash. Tim (Susan's Hubby) was a rebel and took some really good shots without flash. I will have to get some from him to show you.

Inside at the circus.

We even had a band for a lot of the music. The conductor was even wearing a bow tie.

After that we all went to get some pizza. We had so much fun together. Tim, Susan and our translator are a lot of fun to spend time with! Susan was cracking me up with all of her vacation disaster stories. Pretty much every vacation she has been on, something went wrong. Maybe not funny at the time, but now it is hilarious. We were all busting out laughing in the middle of the restaurant. I love it!

Who knew? Dominos is in Ukraine!! I am loving their delivery trucks. We did not go to Dominos for dinner but I had to show you this picture!

The next morning (Sunday), I wished had never come but I knew it had too. My sweet husband had to head home so he could get back to work and seminary. I was really sad. I cannot wait till we are all back together!! After we saw him off, we were headed to an international English speaking church in Kiev that the Thieneman's had been to the previous week. It was so good to be able to be in church after three weeks. I missed worshipping with other believers. It was pretty much the same as our church back home so I was excited! There are only Ukrainian speaking Orthodox churches where we are and I do not know of other churches. After church we were off to McDonalds (of course) and then I hung out at the Theinaman's until it was time to pick up my mom at the airport. We had fun playing some phase 10. Susan was killing Tim and I, but we caught up to her eventually. :) At 4 I was off with our translator to pick up my mom. I was really excited that she was coming to town!! It will ba a fun next few weeks for sure! She was really sleepy the whole night last night and kept falling asleep every chance she got. It was too cute. She was trying to stay up until bedtime so she could get the whole time zone thing under her belt. At 9 something I was like OK you made it to bedtime now you can fall asleep until tomorrow. I think she was already asleep before I finished the sentence. :)

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