6.20.2006

Goodbye Tbilisi, Hello Kiev

Yesterday evening we left Georgia sad to say goodbye, but excited to experience the new. We flew UM Airlines, which I termed "Useless Mechanics;" it actually stood for "Ukranian Mediterranean." I was terrified that the flight would be shot down by Chechen terrorists, or perhaps crash on its own accord. Of course, the flight was a breeze minus Ryan and I sitting in rigid seats in front of the exit row with no recline. A moment to remember: as the flight attendants began the drink service, Ryan wildly gesturing towards the Cognac saying "yes, yes," with the immaculate reply from the steward, "don't worry, we speak English." Ryan, the steward, and I all had a good laugh.

The plane landed and almost immediately Joe's bag broke out from underneath. Luckily, he was able to get a new one and we were on our way. Half the city's cab drivers followed us around outside the airport as we feighned English and made our way to the $2 bus to the city center. Those same Soviet style buildings littered the ring surrounding Kiev, although they appeared slightly less menacing and not quite so run-down as those in Tbilisi.

I'm reading "Everything is Illuminated" by Jonathan Safran Foer, and one of the main voices in the book is that of a Ukranian translator who sports some hilarious usage of the English language. I had opened the window in the back of the bus as I was reading, and the women in front of me looked uncomfortable so I shut it. She turned to me and said, "I'm very terribly afraid of drafts, thank yous much." It was surreal, but I suppose I did choose the book knowing I'd be in Ukraine.

After the bus dropped us off we got in a cab to our hostel and were promptly ripped off. We asked the cabbie how much to the hostel, and he said "meter, meter," so we obliged and got in. His meter was rigged, and the ten minute trip cost 180 Hryvnia ($45); it should have cost about 4 bucks. We wouldn't have paid, except that he was six two and looked like a skin head, and hey! you've got to get ripped off somewhere.

The International Youth Hostel Yaroslav was clean and accomodating, if not overpriced. We tossed our bags down and searched for some food, heading toward what we thought was the "fashionable part of town" (a phrase I'm enjoying more and more). It wasn't so fashionable, but we assumed it was the main drag, and I for one was severely disappointed. We watched Spain trump Tunisia, then headed back to the hostel. Before bed we enjoyed a glass of Georgian wine with a Canadian named Steve staying in the room adjecent to ours.

In the morning Steve the Canuck roused us from sleep and we all headed out for breakfast at a cheap but tasty cafeteria-style restaurant near our hostel. Then we made our way over to the Chernobyl museum. The museum was haunting; I almost felt like radiation was seeping into my bloodstream as a looked at the measly protective suits and pictures of the devastation. Unfortuantely everything was in Ukranian (or Russian...it's hard to tell), but we met a former Peace Corps participant named Scott who was stationed in Ukraine and back for a visit. Scott hailed from California and translated what the plump women in each room would tell us about the specifics of the disaster. Everyone thinks we understand what they're saying, even when Joe tells them in Russian, "we are Americans and don't speak Russian or Ukranian." Scott also gave us some tips on where to go and his favorite restaurant in Kiev, which we hunted for and finally found behind an iron gate, on a side alley down a set of unmarked stairs (more from Ryan on this). What we also found was the "fashionable" area of town, which is quite beautiful and filled with women who could grace the covers of magazines.

That's all for me, let us know you're reading and leave a comment by clicking on the "0/1/2/3/etc. comments" link at the bottom of each post.

6 Comments:

Blogger FDSJ said...

i'm reading...feel like i'm there!

4:24 PM  
Anonymous Budzgu said...

GAUMARJOS!!!!� Chase, I totally agree… Kiev is a city of hot chicks with a cigarette in one hand and bottle of beer in another, and of course unbelievably short skirts, you don’t even have to scream out a magical word (most frequently used word during your visit in Georgia) because it’s all there��, go to club named AVALON (best girls ever) and to Andreevski Spusk (Andrey’s downhill) where you can pick up some good stuff. Guys I miss you more than you can imagine… this looks more like an e-mail than a comment…. pardon���

8:56 PM  
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