Posts tagged ‘Ukraine’

Finally UKRAINE !

I’m really VERY excited and happy to be traveling in Ukraine! After 18 years i’m back in the country of my birth and i have a little over 3 weeks to explore ;) My tentative plans are:

Kyiv: Nov 4-8
Donetsk: 9-14
Odessa: 15-16
Chişinău (Moldova): 16-19
Chernivtsi: 20-23
Lviv: 24-27
Kyiv: 28

Sunday, 8:05AM EET fly home, arrive  5:00PM EST @ JFK =)

Another option is to go to Donetsk by train and then return to Kiev, go to Lviv by train and then take a bus to Chernivsti and then a train back to Kiev. This might be a better option time-wise. We’ll see :)

November 4, 2010 at 8:05 pm Leave a comment

Why is it so hard to write?

Ever since my last post i’ve wanted to write more… but i can’t. On busses, while i walk, and at various points throughout the day the sentences flow through my head… i’ve even started a list on my iphone of topics i want to include in my post! But when i finally open wordpress i cannot write, i feel clogged and withdrawn. The truth is that i’m really homesick and if it wasn’t for the sentiment and the long anticipation in coming to Ukraine, i probably would have flown back to New York already.

I started this blog to share my travel stories and there are still plenty of them, but there is a weariness i have been unable to overcome and i’m afraid that through this gray lens my stories will appear dull and trite.

So here i am, in Kiev, the capital of the country where i was born, sitting in the apartment of an acquaintance i met in a neighboring country, alternating between the surreal state of being back in a place where i started my journey 6 months ago and the nostalgia for the past, for Brooklyn, for friends i hardly keep in touch with, for family, for the niece and nephew who have probably forgotten what i look like. I wish i could express more, there is so much i want to say, but i can’t find the words….

November 4, 2010 at 11:16 am Leave a comment

Visiting my homeland and arriving in Baku

I arrived in Baku nearly 30 hours after leaving New York.

As usual I was late to the airport. On the way I worried that I’d miss whatever time was set for last check-in. But when I arrived I found that there were at least 50 other passengers as late as I was (due to traffic) and that the plane was running 6 hours late! Seven annoying hours and a $12 food voucher later, I sat on the plane in the middle aisle between a middle aged anti-Semitic Russian woman and an orthodox Jew. Because Airosvit has flights to Tel Aviv, the plane was as full of people going to Israel as it was of people traveling to the ex-Soviet countries.

I didn’t sleep on this 9 hour flight to Kiev, because I cannot sleep in a sitting position. It was inevitable that I missed my connection to Baku from Kiev, since the plane was so late. After a very long wait on the passport control line in Kiev, my passport was received its official welcome to Ukraine stamp. I parted with Galya and her dad (unrelated relatives who were traveling on the plane by chance) and proceeded to find out how I could leave the airport and visit central Kiev for a few hours. After a half an hour wait at the Aerosvit customer service kiosk where I was given some semblance of a new ticket (for Baku) I stepped out of the airport and onto the sun drenched pavement of the capital of my “homeland.” It was 7:15pm.

Khreshchatik, Kiev's main st.

A 45 minute bus ride on the bus “Pilot” that cost 25 hryvnia (approx $3) I stepped out to the central train station, hub for trains to all parts of Ukraine and destinations in Russia. With assistance from a few people I found the metro and took it 3 stops to Khreshchatik, the main boulevard. Here I saw many youths, fancy clothes shops and a food bazaar.

Kiev: escalator down to metro

inside a metro... it looks old but it runs smoother than NYC subways

Back at the airport I found my way to the check-in for Baku. Seeing as I had no luggage, several people approached me to ask if I would be willing to claim some of theirs as mine since they had so much. I apologized and said no, being as I did had luggage somewhere (although I had lost my ticket and wasn’t completely sure anymore if I’d ever see it again). When my turn came the employee refused to give me my ticket because the semblance of a ticket I was given hours earlier was not what she wanted. “But I don’t have the original” I said, “I exchanged it for this…” She wanted me to go get the original, but the woman who I had given it to had been replaced by another woman at the customer service kiosk. After a few uncertain minutes and a phone call, the employee handed me my ticket.

Aerosvit from Kiev to Baku

The plane was a small one, but comfortable. I had a window seat. I got 2 hours of sleep. In Baku I took a taxi and met Peter, another fellow serving in another MFI in Azerbaijan. I’ll be staying with him for a few days until I find my own place. Peter’s apartment lacks an address. So today one of my most pressing concerns was figuring out how I’d located it again. Otherwise, it’s located quite a distance from the city center, something like Queens in comparison to NY. The apartment itself is very old and simple. It contains a ‘fortachka’ (little window on top) and no window screens. It has separate rooms for the toilet and shower/sink and when you turn on the kitchen sink the water leaks on the floor and across the kitchen.

Soviet style building in Baku's 9th district

I visited my MFI yesterday with Peter, and again today Peter was very kind to take me all the way here so I don’t get lost. Yesterday Peter and I took a tour with my MFI’s Kiva coordinator through central and old Baku…

Kiva coordinator & Kiva fellows

a view of central Baku and Caspian sea from the Maiden tower

So here I am….. 3,760 km from NYC!

May 19, 2010 at 6:45 am 5 comments


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