This post is almost a month late, but I say better late than never!
From October 5th-13th I traveled to Ukraine with Melissa, who is my father-in-law’s lovely wife. A little over a month before we left, Melissa suggested that I go with her since the original plan was for her to go alone to pick up Simon Nazar, her second adopted son. The reason why my father-in-law couldn’t accompany her on this trip is because he had already spent five long weeks finishing the adoption process for Caleb Igor, their other adopted son. He was more than ready to return to the land of green money and the English language Melissa thought it’d be nice to have a travel companion who speaks fluent English!
After discussing work plans with my boss, we hauled our mega-sized suitcases down to Hartsfield-Jackson to begin the very long journey halfway around the globe. Once we arrived at the airport, we checked in, said good-bye to our husbands, and went through security.
Our flights were Atlanta to Washington D.C. (approx. 1 hr and 30 min) Washington D.C. to Frankfurt, Germany (approx. 7-8 hours or so), and then Frankfurt to Kiev, Ukraine (2 hours). I will say that the flight from DC to Frankfurt was AMAZING. We flew Lufthansa and were treated like royalty. Oh and it was the biggest plane I’ve ever flown on–it was a double decker! I’ve flown to Europe several times and this was by far the biggest. All flights were smooth with no delays! We did encounter one minor glitch once we landed in Germany. Once you land, you exit the plane via stairs. Then, you and 400,837 people get onto this little bus that takes you around in circles. Once you make 50 circles around the airport (I’m exaggerating a little bit), you finally step off into the airport where there are approximately 1,000,000 people running around like crazy. And there were also about 40 different lines of people for who knows what. We were trying to find our gate to fly to Kiev, but were a bit turned around. Melissa asked three different people where to go, and THEY WERE ALL WRONG! We went to get our passports stamped and the German police were like “UMMM…you are in the wrong place!” So we had to backtrack…and eventually found our gate with enough time to spare. Thank goodness! It is so funny to laugh about now, but we were panicking at the time!
Once we arrived in Kiev, it was 3:00 in the afternoon (8:00 a.m. Georgia time). A driver collected us from the airport, drove 30 minutes into the city, and checked into the apartment. After NO sleep on the plane rides (I usually doze off for a few minutes at a time, but cannot get quality sleep), we were feeling quite delirious! We decided to get out and walk around Kiev for a little bit so we wouldn’t fall asleep too early. Random thought–I was totally expecting the weather to be freezing the entire time, but it was perfect. Highs were anywhere between 50-60 degrees, so it felt nice to walk around–not too hot and not too cold.
Funny story. Melissa and I were hungry a few hours after our arrival, so we went to this traditional Ukrainian restaurant that is cafeteria style. Melissa had been to Ukraine several times before, so she knew of all the good places to eat, shop, etc. I happen to adore any type of international food, so I was excited. After we got our food and sat down (I just pointed to the food that I wanted…I speak NO Russian or Ukrainian), I noticed this odd woman sitting by herself at the table next to us. She was either singing or talking to herself, I couldn’t really tell. She was also dressed very…um…strange? Just think random pieces of bright colored fabric draped all over her body. She had crazy hair that was piled on top of her head and a FULL SET of GOLD TEETH.
So Melissa and I are minding our own business, just eating and talking quietly, until this woman leans over and says something to me in her language. I just stare at her blankly and say “I’m sorry, but I speak English”. She proceeds to look at me like I am crazy (when really she is the crazy one) once she realizes I’m a foreigner. She then says something else, and starts to raise her voice. I just stare and Melissa and she stares right back. We have NO IDEA what she is saying.
Suddenly, this random man from England (we met him in line for the food once he realized we spoke English) gets up from his table and starts YELLING at her in Russian. Um, ok, cool. She starts YELLING back at him and shakes her water bottle in his face. This is happening on either side of our table, with Melissa, me and our food in the middle. Meanwhile, everyone in the restaurant is staring at us because they obviously knew what she was yelling about (and Melissa and I had no idea because neither of us speak Russian or Ukrainian). The English man ran off and grabbed the restaurant manager and a security guard…and there was more yelling…in Russian. The woman ended up leaving. I SO WISH I WOULD HAVE TAKEN A PHOTO OF HER! She was a HOT MESS. Melissa and I laughed and laughed, especially when the English man said “the lights were on, but nobody’s home!” regarding the strange woman.
After she left, the English man told us she is a gypsy. Apparently she was saying something to me that was “offensive”. Sorry lady, but you have gold teeth and are clearly mentally unstable, so you really didn’t offend me. He wouldn’t tell us what she said, I guess because he didn’t want to offend me…I kept telling him I didn’t care, but I guess it was that bad! Lol. I have experienced gypsies before in Spain…very odd.
So all of that happened in our first two hours in Ukraine! It was quite the experience. The next day consisted of shopping, exploring, and eating delicious food. Ukraine definitely has some AMAZING FOOD! Stay tuned for part 2…more adventures to come!