Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kiev blogging

I've been in Kiev, Ukraine for most of this week. It's a nice city that
gives you a scare when you leave the airport, blocks of russian style
apartments that look like they were crappy when they were built. Then they
stop and you have to drive another 20 minutes to the city. Then downtown
is pretty nice.

Very few people speak any english here, but everyone speaks Ukrainian and
Russian. It's still a very low trust society, the hotel bill is paid when you
check in, and to charge something to your room you have to prepay a credit
to your account.

I have had more vodka this week then I've had since LSU. It kind of forces you
to drink the next night too, because the only thing that helps with the hangovers
I've had every day is a beer. I think my liver will fly back to Italy before me, trying
to make it's escape.

The one afternoon I had to play tourist and the weather turned crappy. I got to see
St Sophia and the museum, but it took me two tries to get in. They have a ticketbooth
in the big gatehouse you enter through, with a sign in english that says 50 hrivna
(pronounced "grivna")for a combination ticket. I gave the lady a 50, she gave me 45
back in change and a ticket.

I walked into the courtyard, an older guy was playing a sitar and singing in a really good
voice. When I tried to enter the cathedral, the lady said no, 'need ticket, giftshop'. grr.
I tried in the next building that looked like a giftshop, but it's a crappy museum with cool
amber pieces, but it's all in ukrainian so who knows what that's about. The equally fat
amber museum ladies say 'not right ticket, giftshop' and point to the entrance. I'm steamed
now, the old guy is still playing the sitar, but the music hurts my ears, he's probably
singing about americans that can't get in to see the cathedral. grrr. Back at the entrance
there's a little trailer to the left of the main gate. doh! it's has 6 price options, none
of them total to 50 hrivna, and the unlikely total to see everything is around 200 hrivna.
I give her a 100 and ask for everything and make finger motions that indicate everthing.
She gives me back 60 in change. I wanted to yell what the hell are you giving me, none of
the options total up to the price you charged me. grrr.

I walk back to the cathedral, the guy is still singing, I give him 5 hrivna, expecting him
to switch from his dirge to NY, NY; but he doesn't. The catheral is beautiful. It's one
of the few that weren't knocked down by the soviets, and it looks similar to San Vitale in
Ravenna, just not as old. (11 century vs 5th century.)

Everything here has a bureaucratic feel. Hopefully things will get better. There are a lot
of people here that are beautiful with nice cars, then the 50 and above generation all look
shabbier.

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