Well it's time to do another post. OK, it's past time to do another post!
This past winter a friend from Texas came to Ukraine and asked me to join him on a short trip to Kharkov, Ukraine. Why not as long as I could arrange the time so off we went.
Kharkov has a population of over 1.5 million people. At one point in time it was the capitol of Ukraine, but of course that was relinquished as Kyiv became the capitol.
Kharkov is also known as the City of Students and Youth because of it's 38 universities.
Our trip started on the new fast train. Very nice 4 1/2 hour ride on a very nice new train. US cost for our tickets was only $18 for round trip tickets!
Did I mention it was winter! Take a look at this fountain. Also one thing you notice here in Ukraine versus Wisconsin where I'm originally from is that they don't have to clean the sidewalks.Which means you walk at your own peril. Yes there is ice and I had two friends in Kyiv who fell and had to deal with bruised/cracked ribs and even a concussion!
A short 5 minute walk from the hotel was a nice little park with this arch and beautiful church.
Here you see part of the famous Gorky Park. A beautiful, large park and I'm sure full of people in nice weather. Still a fair amount of people walking there on this day and a lot of squirrels.
In the central part of the city you'll see a fair number of statues.
Just like everywhere else I've eaten here in Ukraine the food was amazing.
Above to the left is a huge piece of pork tenderloin with pomegranate sauce.
To the right is Salo. Cured slabs of fatback. Don't say YUCK until you've tried it.
I'll leave you with this beautiful photo of the restaurant/cafe called Paris. Fantastic food and decor at a low price. Shortly after I arrived all 3 floors filled up and they were turning people away. This during the middle of the week. I recommend you all come and visit this country and the nice people who call it home.
You never know what experience you'll have until you do it.
Side note: My friend and I took the metro back to the train station. In seeing if the metro card from Kyiv would work, (it didn't) the police noticed and brought us back to office. The just checked our passports and made sure we didn't have anything illegal in our carry ons or pockets. It seems they had noticed us trying to use a card at the metro entrance that wasn't for Kharkov metro. Since everything was good they thanked us for our time and our understanding, shook our hands and helped guide us to our train. A pleasant experience with the foreign police of Kharkov.
Yes Kate this blog post is dedicated to you. Everyone we met in Kharkov asked us WHEN you are coming back))
To give you an idea on some food here in Ukraine and costs. I had the pleasure of meeting a friend for a late breakfast the other day in Podil at Revolution Grill. We both enjoyed their XXL breakfast which is served all day long. This below is only 60 Grivna! For my friends in the US that works out to less than $2.25!
Later that evening I went to a friends house and she and her son feed me amongst other items some fresh Salo that she had been given. Salo is a traditional Ukrainian food of cured pork fat back. Sliced thin and eaten that way or with dark bread, thin sliced onions, garlic and or mustard. Many of my US friends look at it and can't believe someone eats it. BUT you need to try this. It is a great delicacy.
Have a great day. I have to go, for some reason I'm getting hungry))
There was a time in my youth when I had much more hair. OK this is not a photo of me with that hair but it does brings back memories. This is actually a hat that was for sale which I decided to try on. I had a chance to meet a friend over the weekend for coffee and I joined her in going to a designers expo. Four floors of jewlery, shoes and clothing especially a huge selection of winter coats this time of year.
It had started snowing early in the day and by the time we left the expo it had piled up fairly well, (with more to come). I enjoyed a pleasant walk thru the snowstorm with my friend. Kyiv is a beautiful city when the fresh snow comes. We had a large amount of snow and I read that it was 30 cm, (over 11 inches)! I don't know that amount for sure but it had to be close.
Thank you to my dear friend Diana for these photos as well as for a wonderful day.
Here in the Obolon section of Kyiv where I live. there is a HUGE store called Epi Center with home goods, supermarket, and so much more. Much larger than anything I've ever seen or been in when I lived back in Wisconsin. Happened to go into it yesterday and as you can see Christmas season has arrived in Ukraine, or at least the shopping part of it.
I will only show 3 photos now but I'd say the display area just for Christmas decorations is at least 10,000 square feet!
A recent weekend here in Kyiv was beautiful and so it was time to head out and enjoy some of the many activities you can always find here. This included an exposition in the Podil area of Made In Ukraine items and craft type fair in another part of the city.
Made in Ukraine Teas
Hand Made Ukrainian Dolls
Notice there are no faces. I have been told that this was so EVIL spirits could not enter and the other explanation was that it was so kids would develop their imagination.
Bublik which comes in different flavours and is like our pretzels.
Made in Ukraine sweets and marshmallows
My preferred hand made soap supplier
How about some excellent escargot?
Let's Head Down to the the Art Fair Now
The fair is by Praha restaurant which overlooks this lovely pond
We come to the end of this fun weekend. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Many people where I'm from know little of this amazing country. Come and visit it will get into your heart too, I promise.
Hmmm maybe Linus should come here in his quest to find the Great Pumpkin!
While I spent my summer working in Spain I took the opportunity to finish a project I had slowly started to work on a few years ago. It has been my dream to help out non profits, ministries, youth groups and mission groups by providing some needed funds and by promoting their missions to others. The result is finally here! Conscience-Wear. A T-Shirt site to begin with and more items later on. 20% of profits will be given to be given to these organisations and hopefully a larger amount as we grow.
The first group to be featured is Open Arms Ukraine. http://openarmsukraine.org/
I would be honoured if you check out my site: https://www.conscience-wear.com/ and remember when you purchase shirts from here you will also be helping out different organisations that need your help. God Bless and Thank You... Al
As I sit here I think about where I live in Kyiv now. I have moved from the centre to the Obolon district. It’s about a 40 minute metro ride (2 different ones) or about the same amount of time by taxi.
The centre area had been nice and close to many things but the move to Obolon was because it’s less expensive and quieter. I guess 1,000,000 live in this district! I know hard to believe an area with one million people would be more quiet but it is. I also have a number of friends in this area and a coffee shop I like to frequent.
My flat is a renovated one bedroom on the 13th floor with a nice view out over the edge of the city and nearby park area. I don’t have any photos with me here but it’s nice. I come in thru a small entryway with a closet. A very small kitchen area, (range, sink and refrigerator) which opens up into a nice living room. A separate bedroom and a nice bathroom with a washing machine in it.
When you walk into the building which you need your magnetic fob to get in the door and there is always a lady there to keep an eye on who comes in and out. In my building they are referred to as the concierge. The older Russian buildings and flats I believe they are still known as, Babushkas? These ladies take their jobs seriously as I have had my phone ring on more than one occasion by friends who have come to visit: Al, I’m downstairs and they won’t let me up, come get me please. I know they watch for everyone but they really keep an eye out for me not so much as a foreigner but maybe the fact that I have given all four of them chocolate and flowers. Hey I know who takes care of me after all.
Now the size of my flat is not large. Around 800 sq. ft.. I’ve been in some Ukrainian friends flats who have smaller ones. Who live in studios but I also know of whole families who live in much smaller flats. A whole family living in an area of at most 500 sq. ft. and these flats are in much poorer condition than mine. The area in Wisconsin (Waunakee) that I came from I'd say the houses in the old section of town were 1,200 sq. ft. on average. The new section now has many that are 3,500 to 5,000 or more! Sadly many can’t afford them but oh well it's about the show. I wonder how these people would feel if they had to work as hard as many do here just so they could afford cramped housing? There are of course people here who have big flats and houses but the majority do not.
Just food for thought. Be happy and grateful for what you do have.
This is the Hotel Obolon (can you tell by the sign?). It is right next to my building. Same style building which is to say it's not the old Soviet style.
The Dnieper river is a short walk from my place. Lined with restaurants in my area and if you want you can walk all the way into the center of Kyiv.
A 5 minute walk from my place is Dream Towne 1 (here) Dream Towne 2 is one block behind which you can't see. These shopping centers are HUGE. The photos do not give them justice at all. I frequent this one to get a coffee most mornings. The word NOVUS on the front is a supermarket and the word above in the blue banner that you see is: SPORT MASTER which is a sporting goods store.
A huge thank you to the internet for allowing me to 'borrow' these three photos.
Yes I’m still here and wow does time go fast! I know it has been too long since I last posted(( It seems that if it’s not one thing it’s another that keeps taking my time but yes It is time for me to try to get back on track and do some posting on a more regular basis. It will also make my friend Kate happy as she doesn’t hesitate to remind me to “post something Al”.
One of the many rows of housing in this area. One of which I stay in.
To begin with the title of my blog: Al in Ukraine and the World. Well it’s true as I’m sitting in my friends place in Gran Alicante Spain! I'm spending the summer here. A chance to work and catch up on reading, do some meditating and catch up on my prayer life. I desperately miss my friends in Kyiv but this is a chance to reset the timeline on my passport and try again to get a long term visa when I return.
I thought my old farm had rocks but it is nothing compared to this part of Spain. The whole area is built on stone. Back where I came from in Wisconsin you would have become rich just making it a gravel pit. What you see instead here are row upon row of housing. There are locals who live and work here, some Russians who like to travel here and a large share of English citizens. Apparently this area is a favourite vacation spot for them. Inexpensive air fares, warmth, (it’s been around 90 every day I’ve been here),the Mediterranean and SUNSHINE. Something that I have been told is normally in short supply in England.
Other than the beach there is not much else to do here it seems. The locals tell me that it doesn’t pay to go into Alicante or anywhere else really. Just different restaurants and well more beaches. The food here also caters to the British and some Spanish. Not the Mediterreran food I was hoping for.
As I get a chance I will start catching this blog up with the news from when I was in Ukraine. No particular order just as I search thru my photos and what I feel like posting. I hope you enjoy the journey.
Looking out over the Mediterranean Sea with the mountains in the distance
This land train makes a loop every hour taking you to the beach area, restaurants and a shopping center
One of a number of flowering plants I walk by daily
When you are in a city the size of Kyiv (approximately 5,000,000 people) you find that as you get to know your way around and figure out where to look you'll find that there is simply an amazing array of things to see and do. It would be impossible to find the time to go to all the events that I find interesting.
I did go with some friend to: The Beatles Remembered. I like the Beatles songs but I'm not a 'huge' fan. At the same point I loved this show as every song was song by a different Ukrainian artist. My friends could tell you the names of the artists. As for me well no, I have no idea. There was a young lady who might not have been a teenager yet who had one of the most incredible voices I have ever heard! I understand she won at an even younger age a talent contest on a Ukrainian TV show.
Those of you who know me know that I enjoy my food. There is a never ending supply of food stands, cafe's and restaurants here. I have no idea how many there are!! What I can tell you is that they mostly lean to the European side of the food world. French, Italian,and Sushi is everywhere you look. I have heard of one Korean. One or two Cuban. There is a Brazilian and three Chinese and a few that lean towards the American style of food. Of course there is Ukrainian food and some absolutely great food from the country of Georgia . Make sure if you like wine that you try the Georgian wines as you'll find none better. Recently however Poco-loco opened up within a 20 minute walk from my flat. Real Mexican food (Tex-Mex) with spices in the food. Yes I said spices, as in a little heat. I have found that when other restaurants list or warn me personally that the food is spicy, they don't really know spice as I know it. I like some heat to add to the flavor but not enough to make me think I'm going to die!!!
The two photos above are just two of the different acts that performed at the Beatles Remembered concert.
Some of the food from Poco-loco. Two of the musicians with part of our group. Finally Jorge, Ludmila, Diana and myself at the restaurant. I urge you all, don't sit at home, go out see the world, meet new people and try new things. Life is short so go and enjoy the journey. From Ukraine, Al
Jim, Dr. Victoria and myself in her office at the hospital. She chastised Jim mildly that he had to come sometime for a longer visit and stay as a guest in her house.
One of the quarries we drove by on the so called 'road' from the hospital to Bohdan's families house. Couldn't take photos of the road as we simply were too busy being jostled about to be able to aim a camera!
The whole family. It took a little coaxing to get dad in a photo as he was a bit shy. They work making monuments for grave sites and are slowly fixing up their small house and building a new one also for their children with the new one being next to theirs.Very nice and cozy but most people from the USA would be amazed as the size as they might be 400 sq feet per house.
The garden area where food is grown for themselves and for preserving for the winter along with food for their cow, 2 pigs and chickens.
The table set with home made food. The two oldest daughters had prepared all of our food so that mama could stay at her job as long as possible. She said her co-workers didn't believe she would be having guests coming as "who would come way out here to see your family". Also one of the daughters in the kitchen which is in a separate building which housed the kitchen.. The one new house has a built in kitchen being added to it!
No this photo is not added to scare you even though it might :) Bohdan fell in love with my smart phone and I showed him how to go thru and look at my photos and he motioned asking if he could take photos. I think I have to edit thru about 200 of the photos he took but I wanted to add one of his to my blog in the hope that some day he will have the opportunity to see my blog and know that one of his photos is published. This one is for you Bohdan.
I would be remiss if I didn't add a photo of this wonderful lady Kristina who came along to help. Jim knows some Russian, I know even less but Kristina speaks Russian and English and was invaluable to us.. Jim is the type of person who talks to everyone and believes that there are no strangers but only people you have not gotten to know yet. If you ever meet him please shake his hand and tell him what a great man he is because it's true.
Also if you meet a Scotsman have him call you by name. He was amazed at my accent (?). Hey I'm from Wisconsin I don't have an accent!! But his Scottish brogue entranced me, especially when he called my name. Instead of Al I am: Aaaalll :)
When you have a chance. See the many places the world has to show us and meet some of the amazing people that populate it.
Slava Ukraine my friends