Saturday, June 4, 2011

Kyiv trip re-cap part 1

After looking forward to my trip to Kyiv, Ukraine for nearly 6 months, on Friday, May 20, it was time! Above are pictures of the official beginning of the adventure. I had the pleasure of talking with a mom who, along with her beautiful girls and husband, was heading back to Germany to live after being in TX for 15 years. It was fascinating to talk to this experienced traveler.

One of the things I had had a bit of anxiety about beforehand was the seat neighbor I would have on this long 9 hour flight from Dallas to Amsterdam. Well, the Lord took care of that of course. She was a lovely, kind and friendly nursing professor and veteran traveler. She didn't mind when I had to climb over her to go to the bathroom several times, and she and I enjoyed talking through the first couple hours of the long trip. I had thought that the 9 hour flight would be eternally long...since prior to this the longest flight I had ever been on was 3.5 hours from Dallas to San Jose, CA a year and a half ago.

I was pleasantly surprised about how quickly the 9 hour flight went. My seat neighbor and I talked until our dinner was served, and I watched a movie on my individual screen (YAY!) afterwards. Then I took the pills I take at bedtime, put in my earplugs and the eyemask, inflated my pillow and relaxed. I don't know if I slept or not, but it seemed to fly by. I didn't read or listen to my audiobook or do my puzzle book. Soon it was time for breakfast before we landed in Amsterdam at 8:00 a.m. local time (which felt like 1:00 a.m. to me).

I had a 4-hour layover in Amsterdam and after hitting the store to get a few little things to remember my "visit" to Holland, I settled down and sat in the gate area for the flight from Amsterdam to Kyiv. Again, the time went by quicker than I thought it would. I'm sure that the excitement and anticipation of the trip and seeing my friends made the time pass quickly.

And then, just like that, we landed in Kyiv. The next step from the plane was the shuttle bus to the Kyiv airport. Then I stood in the line waiting for passport control to look at my brand-new passport. I was a bit nervous about this, knowing that they had the option of looking through my bags, but they didn't at all. I went to baggage claim to get my suitcase, and then the door to the "outside" opened and my friend immediately called my name. There she was with her husband and 3 beautiful children. I was there finally! After hugs all around, we went outside and I was immediately overwhelmed by how HOT it was. I had hoped for the typical-for-that-time-of-year cooler weather, but it was in the 80's with bright sun. The weather of course wasn't important, but I will say, in the next 10 days, I did sweat a lot. I'm hoping it was the first step in kick-starting my weight-loss. :)

Once we reached their vehicle in the parking lot, my friend graciously climbed in the way back of their minivan so that I could sit in the passenger seat for a better look of the "scenery" on the ride from the airport to their apartment.

I was firstly impressed by all the signs in Ukrainian. I know that sounds ridiculous because obviously the signs in UKRAINE SHOULD BE IN Ukrainian, but remember, I had never been in another country. I saw the river and the two halves of the city on either side. There were apartment buildings with satellite dishes, which surprised me a bit. I saw how crazy the roads were, how the drivers observed no traffic rules at all, and appreciated why my friend doesn't drive there. Her husband does and even that is nerve-racking, not because he's not a good driver (he is), but because the Ukrainians are scary drivers!!

It wasn't long before the short trip to their apartment was over and we were inside what would be my home for the next 10 days. I was not surprised at all at the loveliness of their home, because my friend had posted pictures on her blog (and I knew from experience she is the ultimate homemaker/keeper). I wasn't surprised, just touched, at the fresh (purple on purpose) flowers she had by my bed. I wasn't surprised, just impressed, at how well-behaved her 3 children, ages nearly 3 to 8, were. I had visited them a year and a half ago but it was a short visit and the children had obviously grown in that time.

After a lovely dinner and much needed shower, I went to bed after the kids did around 8:00 local time, completely delighted to be there in Kyiv and so very thankful for a safe and smooth trip. The first step of my adventure was over and now the real fun, visiting with my dear friends and seeing a bit of the city, had begun. Stay tuned for part 2!

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