Beautiful Land

We arrived on a Sunday late afternoon.  Completely exhausted.  After we got settled in to our apartment, we went to a pizza place right next door.   Apparently, Italian restaurants are very popular in Ukraine.  We saw a lot of them and ate at a few.  DSC_3706 This is me trying to stay awake.  My pants make look funky but they were oh so comfy and perfect for a long flight.  I just look rough but I thought I would keep it real.

 

So, on Sunday, our transport parallel parked and we were pleasantly surprised to find the city so quiet and peaceful.  IMG_20151111_073048766_HDRMonday, however, was a different story… DSC_3707

The two lane street became one lane and there were policemen directing traffic and parking cars on the street.  We later found out that they don’t have parking garages in the city but are still dealing with building built several hundred years ago.

We loved our little apartment.  After skyping with the kids on Sunday night around 8:30 where we were and with about six hours of sleep between the two of us, we hit the hay and woke up briskly when one of our facilitators called us at 10:30 am the next day.  Never in my life have I slept so long.  It was heavenly!

We assured our facilitator we were good and fixed a brunch of oatmeal and whatever we could find and read and then headed out to explore the city.  I’m glad we had a day to recoup and recover from flying.  It was nice to relax and prepare mentally for what would be a long week.

DSC_3726 St. Micheal’s Cathedral

These churches are amazing and while most have had to be remodeled and renovated, they still resound with the architecture and design that was very common in orthodox churches built in the Byzantine Empire (that would be around the 11th century).DSC_3722

St. Sophia’s Cathedral and one of the most popular stops in Kiev.  Absolutely beautiful! DSC_3720

The statue is of Yaroslav the Wise.  The most famous king of Ukraine.  His remains are interred in St. Sophia’s.

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Yaroslav the Wise at the reconstructed Golden Gates.
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St. Volodomir’s Cathedral.  This church was bright and cheerful.  It was close to our apartment and just beautiful to walk by.  Mark and I stopped several times as we passed it just to stare.

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Beautiful folk art on the buildings.  We saw a lot of this when we drove out of the city.

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St. Andrew’s Cathedral.  It was being renovated but it was just as beautiful.

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Another cool statue.  There were several cool statues all over the city.

What we thought was our last night in Kiev, we decided to go to the opera.  The opera house has a different show every night and while the prices appear high, if you calculate them in to American currency, we got amazing box seat tickets for the price one would pay for a nosebleed seat here.

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The Opera House.  It was just as beautiful inside as it is out.

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CeilingIMG_20151111_220925688

Inlaid wood floors.

We met up with another family who was in the process of adopting (I say was because they should be coming home on Thursday!  Eek!).  After eating supper, they decided to “splurge” and go to the opera with us.  We saw Aida.  An Italian opera.  About an Ethiopian and Egyptian.  In Ukraine.  It was a multi-cultural experience to say the least.  They had a screen set up on stage that translated the words to Ukainian.  Now that was super neat to see.

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We had Ukrainian chocolate at the Italian opera.  Can I just say, yummy?  Best chocolate I’ve had ever.

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Our new friends with a random stranger in the far background.  I think he thought we were all insane but we had a great time.

After all our paperwork stuff, we finally got to travel to see Y on Thursday.  We were blessed to be able to spend time with him Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  Now Y is only 8.  He has no real access to computers or any way to communicate with us.  He had no clue we were coming.  He had no clue we were working to adopt him.  Can you imagine the look on his face when he walked in to the director’s office and saw us?  Sheer joy!  I cried happy tears.  After we got some awesome hugs, the first thing he did was ask about Emmie.  See, he’s our son.  He asks about the favorite sibling first!

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One of my favorite pictures.  That’s a whole lot of happiness right there.

IMG_20151113_161911882_HDR Mark enjoyed playing around the grounds with the kids.IMG_20151114_113001971 All of his friends were super nice and loved to talk to us a mile a minute.  In Ukrainian.  They worked some on their English and laughed when we tried to speak Ukrainian.IMG_20151114_114615767 We brought a small amount of toys and they were eager to see what we had for them.  They were grateful and sweet with them.IMG_20151114_123421751 Y’s buddy N.  They are a close knit group of kids.IMG_20151114_135722683 Our playmates on Saturday.  They don’t have school on Saturday.  We were able to spend a bit more time than the previous two days but it still wasn’t enough for us, of course.IMG_20151114_123444712

Friday night we stayed in an apartment very similar to a typical Ukrainian apartment.  It was small and cozy and warm.

IMG_20151114_151557764Not our apartment building but similar to it.IMG_20151113_185547367 Two sets of cute plates in the kitchen we were in.IMG_20151113_185534870

Now for the food…We tried getting multiple pictures of our food.  Everything was so incredibly tasty!  We loved it all and after each meal would say, “I think this is the best meal we have had here.”

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IMG_20151111_175325143This was close to a Ukrainian dish.  Pelmeni and veggies with cheese.  And homemade sour cream.
IMG_20151113_183440689 My birthday was on Saturday and Mark and I thought we would celebrate with cupcakes on Friday.  Well we thought they were cupcakes…IMG_20151113_194718308

Nope.  Meringue in pastry shell.  Yummy but super sweet.

IMG_20151114_162644914 My birthday supper.  They call these pancakes but they are thin like crepes.  Stuffed with mushrooms and chicken. IMG_20151114_164906264

Mark had salmon and fries.  This was where we learned that the whole bottle of “tomato sauce” we used on our pasta one night was actually ketchup.IMG_20151114_164902490 Grilled veggies
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Borscht!  So much better than what I can make.

IMG_20151110_174253610 This is the look I give when I want Mark to stop taking pictures.  I did actually cook in our apartment a bit.IMG_20151110_080324848

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Here’s our pasta, sausage and ketchup.  It really wasn’t too bad.  There are no preservatives in foods like here.  So, everything tastes a bit better.IMG_20151111_110638841

We stopped at McDonald’s to grab some drinks one afternoon.

Long post but that is a pictorial overview of our time in Ukraine.  We can’t wait to go back.

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