Archive for the ‘park’ Category

Ponies, Big Wheels, and Brides…Oh, My!

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

I feel like I’ve been slacking on the blog posting – I promise to do better and blog more! I feel like so much has happened since my arrival post! I am fully adjusted from the jetlag (thank God!) and have explored some more. I can definitely cross getting lost off my list of things to do in Kyiv as I got lost trying to find a building at my campus and wandered around the area for about an hour. At least I got some great pics out of it!

This afternoon marked the beginning of one of many exploration days (tomorrow will be number 2 as Kaley, another Fulbrighter named Luke, and I plan to have a “photo day” in the heart of the city). Kaley and I went to one of the museums next door to our apartment building, the Bohdan and Varvara Khanenko Museum of Art. There was tons to see from Byzantine pieces to works from Japan, Turkey and Iran. The most remarkable thing about the museum wasn’t its exhibits though, it was who we saw there. Apparently, this is the place to be if you’re getting married. We saw 4 different wedding parties taking pictures and we were only there for about an hour and a half!

After the museum, we wandered across the street to Taras Shevchenko park to people watch and take pictures. Brilliant idea on our part. While walking around the beautiful park and eating some really yummy ice cream, we saw children running around at the playground, old men playing chess, cards and dominoes, a fundraiser for stray animals (Kaley and I both bought something), and children being led around on ponies. Wait, wait…ponies? Yup, that’s right. If you’re in the mood for a miniature horse ride, then head on over to Taras Shevchenko park. Ponies not your thing? That’s ok, you can also rent a big wheel type cart or one of those little Jeeps we all loved so much as kids (sadly, there were no Barbie ones). Just another day in the park, I guess.

 

 

After getting over my initial amusement with the ponies and the big wheels, it was time to check out the rest of what the park had to offer. Fittingly there is a huge statue of Taras Shevchenko in the center, right across from the university named after him. While wandering, Kaley and I made some new friends, too. We started taking pictures of the gentlemen playing chess and cards and a few of the men came over to talk to us. One thing I am definitely learning how to get better at is communicating despite a language barrier. This typically involves lots of gestures and pointing but it always works out for the best. This time, we were able to exchange names, get their blessing to take pictures and shake hands without much of a language problem.

 

 

Tomorrow I will post about our photo day adventure – till then, pro-shya-váy (bye) and dyá-koo-yu (thank you) for reading!

I Made It!!!

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

After a tearful good-bye with the parents, I boarded the plane to Munich for the long flight over the Atlantic, enjoyed a 5 hour layover in one of the weirdest airports I’ve ever been in, boarded a second plane to Kyiv and landed in my new city!

Kaley (my roommate)’s and my apartment is fantastic!!! It’s even better than the pictures our landlord sent us. We each have our own room (and the beds are mighty comfy) and there is plenty of storage for all of our stuff (probably a good thing since we’re both girls with 2 big suitcases full of clothes and shoes).

We explored the city some after I got in and it really is gorgeous! Within one night: we saw/heard a protest, found a great 50′s style restaurant, went to a drug store, crossed streets underground, got hit on by a weird guy and figured out how to get back home without getting lost. Pretty productive night if you ask me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today we are both still adjusting to the jetlag (I couldn’t stay awake, she couldn’t stay asleep) and went to the park across the street from our apartment building. We got breakfast from a vendor there (crepes with apples mmmm) and I even got complimented by the woman in line in front of me for pronouncing my order right! The people here so far are really nice – they can tell I’m trying at Ukrainian and smile when I get something right :) Most of the people we’ve come across don’t know English or only know a few phrases but they try to help us (ie: lots of pointing at the pictures on the menu at dinner last night) and are really patient with us which is good. I’m already picking up a few phrases, so hopefully within 10 months, I will be practically fluent…haha we’ll see.

After breakfast in the park, we went to the grocery store and everything is so cheap! Only downer is we ended up buying Kaffir (a sour, milk drink) instead of regular milk, so, sadly, I will not be having cereal for breakfast tomorrow. The rest of today we spent unpacking and making our apartment feel like home.

Tomorrow we’re going to go by the Fulbright office and to our university (Kaley went on Monday, I need to check in) and back to the grocery store to buy actual milk this time! I can’t wait to spend days exploring the city with just me, my camera and a map though! Exploration day 1 will probably happen sometime this week – pics to come!

A Pacific Playland

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

UNSW courtyard

Today was the first day where I had no scheduled activities. It felt odd to be set loose in this wonderful city and have nothing but my whims to guide me. Of course the first place my whims wanted to take me was the beach. It was 85 degrees and sunny today, the ocean beckoned.

Jill needed to get some administrative things taken care of at the University of New South Wales, which is close to Coogee beach, so I told her I would tag along and we would navigate the Sydney bus system together so long as we got to end the day at the ocean. She agreed and we were off.

The bus stop is less than a 6 minute walk from our apartment, and being a beautiful day (read: LOW HUMIDITY, a blessing I do not take lightly growing up in the sweaty hell pit that is Virginian Julys) the walk was very pleasant and the suburb we live in is quite cute. The tricky part about getting on the bus is buying the bus pass, which wouldn’t be hard if anyone who worked in grocery stores in this country spoke English. Much like in the United States, Australia seems to have a problem with the lower income inhabitants not bothering to learn the native language. Such is the case with most of the grocery store owners across the city it would appear. We spent a good 8 minutes trying to explain that we wanted one way student bus passes to zone 3. I don’t know what this small asian grocery store owning woman thought we were asking for, but she seemed very flustered by our request and didn’t understand enough to grant it until we had repeated ourselves in at least six different ways with animated hand gestures.

With bus passes finally in hand we found the bus we needed and 25ish minutes later arrived at the University of New South Wales. We had to ask some friendly aussies for directions to the main admin building, but once we found it Jill was able to take care of everything she needed to do quite quickly and without difficulty. I was kinda amazed at the ease at which we were able to accomplish everything. American universities could use a crash course in university management from the aussies.

I thought this was really unique looking

Apparently childrens cancer is a huge issue in Australia. I saw a poster on the UNSW campus that said by your 16th birthday your chances of surviving a cancer have decreased by 50% or something like that. I though this logo looked alot like the street artist Banksy.

UNSW Logo

UNSW walkway. The whole campus is very modern.

After getting all of Jills academic issues sorted out it was time to find the beach. We were told by a student guide at UNSW that we should take a bus, but looking at the map we decided we would save the money, enjoy the beautiful day and just walk. The nearest beach was Coogee, and with a map in hand we headed for the shore.

We probably walked a little under a mile, but just as we were getting tired we saw the ocean peaking out ahead of us. Suddenly our strength was renewed and we booked it the last .25 miles or so all the while watching the water line draw closer to us.

Getting close!

SO CLOSE!

COOGEE BEACH!!!

We spent several GLORIOUS hours at the beach. It was a warm day with low humidity ( it doesn’t have to feel like you are inside someone’s mouth when you walk outside?! WEIRD.) We swam in the pacific ocean and watched all the surf school students paddling out. They had some monster seaweed in the surf there but otherwise the sand was white and the ocean was blue and the houses in the surrounding area were adorable.

THE PACIFIC OCEAN!! I wish I could adequately describe the excitement level I was experiencing in this picture but I feel like my face says it all.

My darling roomie

What a perfect way to end a day.

On our way back from the beach we stopped in this very small privately owned pizza place for dinner. It was completely adorable and as we were sitting there families were coming in and shaking hands with the owner and ordering “the usual” it was adorably quaint. Of course getting home was tricky as we had walked from UNSW after taking a bus and now would need to find a bus station and a different bus route. Despite our best navigation skills (read: Jills, not mine as I am well aware of my limitations and they certainty include navigation of any kind) we managed to get lost. But the wonderful thing about getting lost in Australia is that the people are super friendly, the weather is warm, and the scenery is wonderful. So even though we ended up wandering around the city for about an hour and a half we didn’t really mind. As it got dark I finally suggested that we catch a cab, and within moments of deciding this one pulled up next to us, we climbed in and zipped home to glebe.

We were both laughing about it and ended up seeing a good portion of the suburban areas of the city, including two of the big parks here. I guess it is true what they say, not all who wander are lost. We thought we were lost but really it turned out to be an adventure. Once we got back to the apt we were exhausted from a long day of sun, surf, and sightseeing so after a few hours of catching up with our other roomies and internet-ing we passed out. Another day in Australia extremely well spent.

The southern hemisphere sun is intense. It requires a cool demeanor.