Ukraine – Here I Am!!! Part one.

Have a blessed,  merry, joyful,  wonderful,  fantastic,  special Christ-celebration!!!

Since the holidays are celebrated according to the Gregorian calendar here in Ukraine,  we will celebrate our Christmas after the New Year,  on January 7th. 

After an eventful trip,  I arrived at Borispol airport.   Since nothing was said about filling out a declaration form,  I asked someone near the passport control area if you have to fill one out.  Answer:  ” When you have more than 10.000 $ to declare,  yeah.  Otherwise,  no.”  

Okay…  I am used to declaring all my silver rings,  my golden chain,  my guitar and my laptop and all my money,  no matter what currency.  Since at this moment I can only dream about having 10.000 $,  (let alone carry it with me🙂 ) up I went to the passport control.  Handing over my passport with a smile to the stern looking guy (no,  that has not changed),  I was ready for the questions:  “Where are you going?  Which purpose do you have for this trip?”  ” How long are you staying?”  etc.  Nothing…  My dear passport got a stamp and was returned to me.  Nice!

Then up to the baggage claim,  prepared to go through customs….. which meant simply walking through the exit!  No one wanted to look in my bags,  check my money,  other valuable possessions or ask difficult questions.  No queues that meant waiting for an hour or so.  WOW,  some things have changed!

Directly after the exit,  one gets bombarded with offers for rides,  taxi’s,  hotels, apartments etc.  I automatically responded in Russian:  “No, thank you.  No, thank you”,  and found my way to the exchange.  Grivna’s,  the local currency,  are only available in Ukraine and not in the West. 

Outside I found the ‘marshrutka’  (commercial mini and bigger busses traveling a certain route) to the train station in Kiev.  The airport is about 35 km from the center of town.  I had to wait and was sitting there,  simply enjoying the change and the sameness of the airport.  So many memories,  accompanying Jewish people to the plane for Israel,  flying myself back and forth to the West.   Everything the same,  and yet so different…

Traffic in Kiev has become crazier then I remember.  I see only foreign-made cars,  with here and there a Volga and maybe one Zhiguli or Lada.  Strange.   Traffic jams everywhere.  The city was never built for this amount of cars.  The trip to the train station,  which should take half an hour,  takes an hour and ten minutes…  because president Yanukovich decided to ‘open’  the tree in the center of town,  at the Independence Square.  We are jammed!

I just got to terms with all my luggage at the train station and somebody comes flying at me: Katya!!!  We hug and scream,  hug some more and scream even louder.   We provided quite a spectacle and  I am sure we made somebody’s day🙂.  Katya decided it was best to go by taxi,  since it was now rush hour and to travel by subway with luggage is even crazier than the traffic on the ground.  Again,  this takes us at least twice as long, since we are jammed!  Thank you,  president Yanukovich – not!

Katya talks a mile a minute and I talk twice as fast.  What a joy,  we can hardly contain it.  So much to talk about,  especially since she got acquainted with and married to Nikolai  (Kolya for his friends,  and now I am one of them,  hehehe).  We eat and talk and I am told that everything is arranged.  I will stay in their one room apartment for the time I am in Kiev and in Kharkov I will stay in Alla’ s  (Katya’s mom and my once-upon-a-time team member) one room apartment.  Katya and Kolya will go to his mom,  and Allochka is going to visit them till half January.  I am overwhelmed with their goodness!  What a welcome!!

Photo of Borispol Airport is Public Domain

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