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Travelers in Ukraine

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  • So much to write about today. I had to post
    Interesting that there are toilets near some intersections, heard about this, now I share it with you....
    To cross the busier intersections you have to go under through the entrances to the Metro lines. They have these shops along the walls that are only about 3 - 4 feet deep. They put everything they sell in the windows, then you buy something through a small window similar to a fast food drive up window in size.There are places that sell meat and deli items, jewelry, Handbags, clothing, coffee, bakery items, almost anything you could think of.
    These people do what they can to make money to live, most of them in honest ways.
    Again, I am able use the small amount of Russian I know to get by. Most are helpful, even if they do not know English. I have a great sense of accomplishment when I can convey myself to the people here. It is the little things for
    It is difficult to translate a lot of what I experience here. Words seem to fall short when I write about how I feel.
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  • Started the day late, must have been catching up on time zone differences. It has been windy for the past 2 days and it sprinkles frequently. There was sun for a few hours this morning, but the clouds took over. Probably in the 60's in the day and 40's at night. It does not feel cold to me, weird.
    Last night I walked around one of the large city blocks. I was hungry, but the hotel food was not apealling. I saw several.night clubs, lots of coffee shops and a sandwich place called "Fresh Lime". Across from there was a little place called the "Bufet", open 24/7. They sold pizza, japanese and italian dishes. I ordered chicken and pineapple pizza, in Russian. It was cool just doing that much. It cost me 40 hyrina and change. 1 dollar = 25 hyrivna.
    Tonight I went on a date with Tina (Valentina), she is a teacher at one of the universities here, there are several. Kharkiv was the nations capital for many years, the architecture here is incredible. Tina speaks good English, but wanted the safety of an interpreter. We had a nice dinner and saw some sites.
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  • First, a very Happy Mother's Day to everyone. Teri, Marcie, Sigrid, Missy, Russi and your own Moms Too!.

    Today was more of the same weather, maybe a little more sun but ocassional sprinkling, or a short rain burst, both do not last long.
    Today, Ukraine celebrated its honoring of those no longer with us. It is a day spent at the cemetary, some bring lunches to eat there by there departed loved one. It is a family day together that finishes at home, gathering and sharing a dinner.
    Tomorrow is the big celebration for veterans and their Victory over the Nazi's. they were preparing for the past 3 days, getting ready for the parades and the crowds.
    I finally had Borscht tonight, well not the traditional version. This had beef in it. I also had Verenka, kind of a thin dumpling wrapped around meat or vegetables. I had a bun that was stuffed with shredded cabbage and carrots, and an apple dessert. The apples were chopped into small squares, mixed with cinnamon and sugar. They make long rolls of it, wrapping it in thin pasterie that had the flexibility of a tortilla. They sprinkle powdered sugar on it and cut it into smal sections, about 3 inches wide. I had a bottled water, with gas (carbonation). I was stuffed at the end. The entire meal was $72 hyrivna, just under $3 US.
    I got a decent workout today. The gym, spa, and pool are on the 11th floor. The views up there are very impressive. This is a city of about 3 million.
    I went to.a small mall. It was cylinder shaped and 3 stories tall. The McDonald's on the ground floor was packed.
    They have these small 6 sided Kiosks along the streets. They are about 9 feet high and show the products they sell behind the plexiglass exterior. You cannot see the person inside unless you go to the small window where your transaction is done.
    I came back to my room about 9:30 pm and the streets were still busy with people. I leave early tomorrow, flying through Kiev to Odessa.
    I will write more thoughts about Kharkov tomorrow.
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  • Went to an amusement park with Tina and the interpreter, Lyubov. There are lots of trees and flowers. There was a small band shell with Traditional Ukrainian music and a lot of older people dancing. More carnival type amusement rides, some themed restaurants and a large Ferris wheel, similar to, but slightly smaller than the Eye of London. We could see everything from up there. Dinner was good, food is very affordable.Read more

  • Just checked in. Cut through the city to my hotel which is in the oldest part of the city. The hotel itself is over 200 years old. But I have a memory foam mattress on the bed.. lol
    The floors creak, which adds to the feel of it. The bathrooms are small and there is a small entry way, with coat racks and doors closing off the room and bathroom from it. My windows open to the back side of the hotel, so I see nothing really. If I had a room that faced the Black Sea I would be happy. I will ask. Ok, only if I upgrade rooms, so I am happy here.
    Today is Victory Day, big celebrations. several people I talk to said to stay inside tonight, just in case.
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  • I slept in again, felt better, more rested. I have not eaten much on this trip, trying drink lots of water (bottled).
    This city is such a mixture of Soviet era construction, post and pre. Much of the old is sitting in between all the other buildings. The overcast sky has put that darker hue to everything.
    Today everyone goes out to the parks, families, couples, singles in small groups and even individuals. The parks here are many, water fountains also. There was a small farmer's market of sorts, selling all types of plants and flowers. I saw parents have their small children buy a flower of some kind, with roots. The person then helped the child plant the flower in one of the many planters along the street. Very cool idea, still teaching the children the importance of beauty around them.
    On Monday the country will celebrate their version of our Veteran's Day. This is a huge day for Ukrainians. I was in Freedom Square earlier, it is the largest in Europe. At both ends were tributes to those who have died in the fighting in Donetsk and Lugansk. At one end was several people setting up a large tent, Ukraine flsgs, sand bags and display boards of the places destroyed in the fighting. They also had a lot of pictures and statements by Putin and others who have lied about the truth in those areas. There is an increased presence of military preparing for the celebration. I have seen many pamphlets honoring the World War II vets also.
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  • Another smooth flight. Interesting observation. When we left Kiev we taxied down the runway, turned around and took off. When we landed in Odessa, they braked hard, turned around and went back to the terminal on the runway. Small terminal for such a large population. I took a picture of baggage claim, the ENTIRE baggage claim.

  • It is my last night in Ukraine. Still trying to absorb this experience. Amazing, beautiful, incredible.
    I have had a great time exploring what I could here, mostly on foot.
    I learned a lot about the passionate views of most people here toward their country. The question I was asked most often was, "What do people in your country know about the war in the East?". The second most asked question. "Who do they believe (is in the right) ?"
    Recently, the woman representing Ukraine in the Eurovision singing contest, Jamala, won this years event. People were so desperate for something good to hold onto, many celebrated, many cried tears of joy. Making it especially sweet was that she beat the favorite, a young singer from Russia. Of course, Russia complained that it was political.
    There is a politeness, that gets a little dicey in the busier streets. Ocassional honking of horns and non-vulgar gestures, highlighting the chaotic driving here. My first shock was watching a small, older woman step into the busy street where there was a crosswalk, but no intersection or crossing light. Out of my fear for her safety, I almost grabbed her to pull her from the path of a car I was sure would plow over her. As I moved toward her, the car hit the brakes, she never flinched, looked, ...or
    I began to notice this frequently. Cars will also try to sneak between groups crossing the street during a green crossing signal.
    I will write more as I process my tjoughts.
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