Thursday, June 24, 2010

Friday evening we took the metro (subway) to the Stoddard's apartment and they fed us. Suzie is an excellent cook. We talked and then we all took the subway back up to Krashadik street - we thought it was blocked off on Friday night but it wasn't. So they walked us to the apartment and I showed them the view from the balcony - it was worth it!!!!

Nicoli showed up at 1130 and we were off to Boryspill where the airport is.

We were booked on the 1400 flight via Lufthansa to Frankfort and then a 1700 flight from Frankfort to DC. Then a 2209 to Richmond. As I checked my bag - I was overweight by 2 KG!!! That's cause Cody doesn't have a bag himself - so I stuffed some clothes in the backpack and we were off! I decided to have one last Piva at the airport (and use up some grivna) and as luck would have it I had to use the facilities before we took off but couldn't cause of the seatbelt!!! I used the facilities on the plane as soon as we were airborne.

When we got to Frankfort, we had one hour to find United and board the plane. We landed at one end of the terminal and took a shuttle to the other end because we were told to. Then we went through security again and then ran like the wind back to the other end and boarded the flight as they were closing the door. The United flight was a Boeing 757 and had wide seats and little tvs in each headrest. They served us food and wine and it was a nice 8 hour flight.

Then we got to DC and went through customs. No problem - took no more time than anyone else. Then we got our luggage and got to the ticket counter to check the bag to Richmond and we had no seat assignment - plus I was still 2 pounds over on weight so I stuffed some more stuff in the backpack ( it's getting heavy now!!!) We went through security again (took three times as long as customs) and finally got to the gate to find out they were overbooked. We finally did get the last two seats and arrived in Richmond at 2300 - 17 hours after we flew out of Kiev!

Went to church on Sunday but fell asleep around 5 for an hour or so! Went to work on Monday which would have been my first unpaid day had I not gotten home!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Medical, Embassy for Visa

Notice the view - from the seventh floor balcony. I'm almost afraid to drink a piva on the balcony cause if I dropped it, it could kill someone. I did say "almost"!!

It has been cooler here - upper 50's but absolutely beautiful!! Ate at McDonalds three times yesterday - not for the food - it's just convenient! It is the only place open before 8 AM.

Took a cab to the Embassy first thing this morning and had the Visa in hand by 9:30. We took the Metro (subway) back to the apartment. Now we just wait for Kathie to do her majic with Golden Rule travel to get us back. Please pray for a Delta opening!! That is a better itinerary.

Just chillin at Double Coffee on Krashadic street. Large ritzy area by Independence Square. Eating chocolate cake for breakfast - Cody had 2 milkshakes - can't remember the word for no!!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tuesday/Wednesday Zaporozhya

After all the running around we had to pay a fee at a bank and although it was open and there was one person there, they were not doing business – so it was time to call it a day at about 6:30. We went to eat at a restaurant that we all ate at in the park when we were in Zaporozha the last time when we were getting the separation agreement approved. We were all frazelled from the heat, the lack of food and the running around. Oles deserves an atta-boy for almost getting us on our way in one day!!!!

Oles made a call and we had an apartment for the night. It is about three blocks from the hotel we stayed at while waiting for the separation hearing. I was watching where the nearest Coffee Life was and come to find out there is a small one one block up the street from our apartment.

The apartment is on the second floor and has two bedrooms, air conditioning, and a great bathroom with a shower that has a kazillion nozzles in it – spent 20 minutes figuring out how that works!!! Unfortunately, they don't have enough water pressure to make it work right – but in Ukraine it's the thought that counts!!!

I showered and got all cleaned up and then headed for Coffee Life to communicate with the outside world. Cody was watching World Cup soccer on TV. I blogged and chatted with a few folks and headed back to the apartment. I had to do a load of laundry as Cody has nothing clean to wear. I picked up a piva at the corner kiosk and watched soccer with Cody. Brazil was playing Korea got to see Brazil make a goal from the right side – great play!!

Got up at about 7:30 and packed and walked to Coffee Life to blog. Sat out front reading E-Mail till they opened at 8. Had a fruit tart with ice cream (gonna miss this when I leave) and skyped with Tobi, Tommy, and Diane.

Today we had to find a Notary that would process a petition for Cody to get his passport and then to pick up the passport. Finding a Notary that would do it without an existing passport was challenging. We found one about 2:30 PM and we were able to pick up the passport around 4 PM. Unfortunately his name is now Codi instead of Cody because we could wait another two days for the correction. As we learned with Elliott – you pretty much live with whatever ends up on the passport.

We got tickets for the train (a compartment to ourselves) ate supper and boarded the train. Fortunately it is air conditioned (in the Ukrainian way – that means you get a hind of coolness coming from some place). I am waiting on my cold Piva to arrive. We should wake up refreshed in Kyiv at about 6 AM.

Here we are in Kyiv – arrived right on time at 6 AM. Nicoli picked us up and carried our bags to the car where Yulia was waiting. She says that we may be able to fly Saturday – depending on the Embassy and the Visa.

They took us to a beautiful apartment – very close to the one we had when we first got here. It is right across the street from the McDonalds on Independence Square. We are on the 7th floor and there is an elevator (2 regular folks and maybe 3 thin folks can fit in it). The apartment is small but is very nice. Great bathroom!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday (June 13-15)

We walked along the promenade and along the boardwalk on Sunday afternoon but not much was going on. There we quite a few people swimming as it was hot. A couple of trains went through. It is interesting that they have a freight track running to the docks along the boardwalk – imagine that at Virginia beach – a freight train running down the middle of the boardwalk!!! I understand that the track was there long before the tourist buildup but it is interesting.

Nicky told us why there are locks on the railing – when couples are married they engrave a lock and put it there. Interesting because I took a picture in that same gazebo in 2006 and there were no locks. But that does make sense – kinda like the American ball and chain thing!!!!

We headed back to the apartment to cool off and get cleaned up for supper. We decided to go toClub 89 because it is by the sea and we had heard good things about it. We took a cab. There were loads of folks down on the promenade now – about 6:30 PM. They were selling ballons and there were artists and vendors – just like Virginia beach!! The restaurant was crowded but we got a table outside (too hot inside) and we ordered. Cody and I wanted fish but they were out of fish – I understand this is typical. So I had Cody order anything with chicken and he ordered the same for himself. Katia ordered a salad.

We had a good time while we waited for our food. There was sooooo much going on. Most of the couples were all dressed up and there were lots of kids roller blading and riding electric 4 wheelers around.

They brought our food and I don't know exactly what it was but it was extremely delicious!!!! It was like a slice of chicken breast that had egg and some flour and spices and was maybe half

baked and half fried – it was very tender, moist and delicious. We had katushka fri (fried

potatoes) also. Katia loved her salad but when she tried our chicken she wanted some also (probably cause Cody and I were making a lot of food loving noises) so we each shared a piece with her – the portion was fairly large.

After we ate, we went for a walk on the boardwalk. A train went by – (see the pic)!! The little carnival was in full swing in the evening. I got tickets for the kids to ride the bumper cars – they had the bestest time ever!!!. Then we walked along and decided to ride the Ferris Wheel. I was thinking that wasn't such a hot idea when I saw the cars you rode in but it was too late. It is about 80 or 90 feet tall!

On the way back to the apartment, I took a picture of a guy with a lizard – he was showing it to some young ladies who were laughing at him. Then he started yelling at me cause evidently that is how he makes his living – having people pay him to photograph his lizard. It's not the first Ukrainian to not be happy with me!!!

We took a taxi back to the apartment and skyped with Kathie and the boys.

Monday we got up early and headed for breakfast at the hotel. We were taking Katia back to

Huliaipole today and it was already a scorcher!!! Found out the schedule is the same as Saturday – 11 AM Bus to Huliaipole and then a 3:20 PM back to Berdyansk. I bought three tickets and we started our 75 minute wait. Then I got a call from Oles saying that Cody needed to head back to the Orphanage to take a test – so I sent him on his way. I escorted Katia and prayed that God would once again give me traveling mercies.

The whole weekend had been out of my comfort zone but God had been doing a work in all of us!! I was not happy when I found out that Katia was staying with me instead of the Orphanage and then God worked that out by allowing Cody to stay with us. That was a miracle all into itself!! If

Katia hand Cody had stayed at the Orphanage – they really wouldn't have had time to bond and neither would I. As a result, the weekend was perfect – a great experience with lasting memories for all of us. And now, it would be just Katia and I on the trip back.

I was a little nervous again – traveling asnd not speaking the language is daunting but Huliaipole is not a big city!!! Katia and I had plenty of time to communicate and by the time we got to thew orphanage, she was hitting me in the arm just like Cody does. In Huliaipole, the same cab driver was waiting that we used two days before – so it was a no brainer to get him to wait while I walked Katia to the office. When I got back to the bus station I knew I had to wait till 2:30 before I could purchase my ticket. I did ask what time the bus for Bredyansk left and they told me at 3:20 – which is what I expected. I also knew it would be the same bus that brought us up there.

The only down side was – it was hot and it looked like a storm was brewing. It was a deluge before the bus got there and the driver had closed the roof vents – so much for air. By the time I got back to Berdyansk, the sun was shining and I was about to pass out from the heat. Definitely a 2 piva night at the hotel!!!

Oles had driven in early that morning and I gave him my bed and I got up to catch up on paperwork. Since he had his car – it would be an easy trip to Zaporozhya when we go. I went back to the apartment and got my stuff together so I could pack in a moments notice and went to bed. At 7:30 Tuesday, I got that notice we were leaving!!!! Lots of running around to do. Evidently Oles had worked out a deal with the Orphanage Director to get them a copy of the birth certificate after we have it changed. We got on the road to Zap about 1100 and arrived at 1:30.

Got Cody's new birth certificate in about an hour and now we are waiting while Oles sees what we need at the passport office. I hope those prayer's I asked for are working!!!

Well, it seems that Oles may have worked a deal to get the passport very soon!! We ran to a Notary to get copies of the Birth Certificate and to find a place to do passport photos. All that is done and we are back at the passport office - we still haven't had lunch at it is 5 PM but if we can work a deal here – we may be on our way to Kyiv soon!!!

Looks like it will be tomorrow before we blow this town – looking for another Notary and then supper and find a room for the night.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Friday, Saturday and Sunday

On Friday, Cody and I went to the water park. I gues that this is where the long Marshriutka ride paid off cause I already knew which one to take and how to get back. It took almost an hour to get there and I was hoping to run into the Steen's. I was expecting Water Country USA and it was actually a lot nicer is some ways. It cost 175 rph to get in (about $23). First of all – it wasn't crowded as I thought it might be considering how hot it was. There is only one dressing room full of lockers. There are booths around the perimeter to change in. The rest rooms are separate at the end of the building and are nice if you ignore the fact that the door is wide open and you can see down the row of urinals!!! There are two huge free form pools – one is a little more family

oriented and the other has a huge bar (not in the pool but along one side). The family oriented

pool has huge mushrroms with water flowing over the top of them like water country.

The water rides are much more I wish I had pictures – maybe I can find some on Google Earth.

The platforms and areas around the pool had the same slick tile they use in all the bathrooms here. It has sharp edges and I cut a toe on it. I also about fell a dozen times. They have no

liability laws here evidently!

Modesty is not a priority either. There were no one piece suits for the women and there were an abundance of thongs. There was some topless sunbathing by the family pool and I was the only

male wearing a suit to my knees. Every other male had a rather small speedo. Glad I left my camera at the apartment. A bunch of small kids with speers kept following me around and saying “Thar she blows!” in Russian!

Overall, it was great!

Then we went to the Rio Restaurant for supper. They misunderstood Cody's order (the same as mine) and it took two hours to get it!! My patience was wearing thin! The food was good though!

On Saturday, we left for Huliaipole to get Katia. We went to the bus station about 10 AM and caught the 10:20 to Huliaipole. It arrived at 1330 and we took the only available cab to the orphanage. I had him wait while we wrote out and signed a petition to take Katia with us. We got back to the Bus Station and had to wait 15 minutes before they could tell us when the next bus to Berdyansk was – it was in 50 minutes.

It was hot before we left Berdyansk. The buses are not air conditioned and the only window that opened was the driver's door window. There were three vents on the roof that supplied air when the bus was moving – but at three stops where we waited for 15 minutes each, we baked.

There are only three trees in Huliaipole and none of them are near the bus station. It reminded

me of one of those stage stops in the old west where the only shade was inside the building but the air wasn't moving there. I had to use the toilet and it was a metal outhouse behind the station. I can hold my breath for about 180 seconds!!! Then we were on the bus back at 1620. It was the same bus we took up!!! Got back in just an hour and a half and headed straight for the hotel to eat cause it was air conditioned and the food is good. Katia only had strawberry crepes – I on the other hand, was starving and had fried salmon and fries and a nice cold piva!!!

I called Oles to see what arrangements he had made for Katia to stay at the orphanage – Cody is staying there and Katia cannot stay with me alone at the apartment. He made a quick call to Galena Anatoliva and viola – Cody is staying at the apartment too!!

On Sunday, we got up and took the Marshriutka to the Hotel for breakfast – what? You thought I was gonna cook? Get real!!! Cody had the same american breakfast I had including the coffee and Katia had american fries and orange fanta. Then we walked down to the sea.

I bought Katia a pair of sunglasses and it was a hoot watching her try them all on and the two salesmen trying to convince her which pair she needed. She definitely got a good pair – here are some pictures.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday, June 11

Monday is June 14 - it is the 10th day and it is also an anniversary for me - 39 years ago, I left my parent's home and started my active duty with the US Navy. I remember that I was excited and somewhat apprehensive because I didn't really know what was going to happen. I wonder if that is the way that Cody feels about going to America? Elliott and Nicky had experiences that were very different from each other - Nicky is always just on to the next thing in his life and Elliott was depressed about leaving his friends and family behind. I think that Cody will be somewhere in between.

I have been very pleased that Cody just wants to hang!! He has played some soccer in the mornings when he hasn't had exams but when I pick him up we just go do whatever I want (hear that kath? He's spoiling me!!).

Last night we went to the Rio restaurant to eat again. The do not have an English menu so I had Cody order me fish. I was wondering what they were doing because it took about an hour to get our food - but it was great! I had Pelangas - whatever that is - it is a teder white fish and I had mashed potatoes. Cody had Dihruni (again) and then we took the #5 Marshriutka to the orphanage.

This Marshriutka was more like an old bus with a door in the front and the back on the side and was taller so you could stand up straight although there were plenty of seats. They also gave receipts! A guy came back and collected the 2 rph and gave you a small ticket from a roll that was numbered. All the other Marshriutka's that I have taken - you just pass the money to the driver and tell whoever you give it to how many it is for (udeen, duva, tree...) and then they pass back your change.

Two older boys from the orphanage got on the bus and Cody talked with them while we traveled to our destination. We got off at the corner by the orphanage and I walked him to the gate. We used to pass through the fence where it was bent next to a pole but they welded a piece of steel there so you can't get through! They must have seen me squeezing through and decided that they needed to keep the old fat men out!!!

It was another nice night out so I walked back to the apartment. There are a lot of folks outside at night, walking and riding their bikes - this is around 8:30 to 9:30 and it is not quite dark yet.

I am at the hotel again - having my favorite breakfast. When it was served today, I was surprised as it looked different - the cheese was shredded on the top and there were other spices sprinkled on the edge of the plate and some garnish. It looked alot like the Caesar Salad except it was missing the mayo. It actually tasted better than yesterday's eggs! Must be another chef today!!! I wonder how I would ask for them done like this again???

Not sure what Cody and I will do today - I may try to get him early and head for the water park - I know how to get there - take the #17 till you hear the banjo music!! I wonder if they have ever seen a great white whale in the Azov sea? I read the Steen's blog and they are going there with a group from the Zaporozhya orphanage and it would be nice to see them.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thursday, June 10

Cody and I went down by the sea yesterday afternoon. It was pretty warm and we had not brought our suits so we didn't go swimming – but we will probably do that today – because it is already warmer than yesterday and it is only 9:30. In the picture of Cody, he is standing in a cupola with columns thet have a metal railing and all over the railing are padlocks – some huge

and some tiny – most have something written on them, engraved on them and some have something welded on them! If anyone knows what this is all about – I'm dying to know!!!

We had some ice cream and then we headed for the apartment. We took the Marshriutka which

was extremely hot. Although the body odor was intense I was the only one visibly sweating. We

got out at our stop and headed straight for the apartment where the a/c was running good!

About 5:30, Cody and I headed to the little market with the tables in the shade on the Boulevard (the little park about a block from the apartment. There were only three or four tables set out in

the past and maybe ten people sitting there. Today there were eight tables and about 20 folks sitting at them. I had a bottle of Slavutich piva and Cody had a Fanta Lemon Lime. We got the table closest to the boulevard under the tree. I noticed thet there were these two guys about 10 feet from us and one was definitely slurring his words – he was a pretty good sized feller too! Also noticed there was a bug or two walking up the side of his face and he didn't seem to mind – probably kinda numb. In Ukraine, they sell beer in 2 liter plastic bottles – somewhat larger than the 40's I've seen in the states. This feller was sucking the last few drops from his bottle.

So, Cody and I have been enjoying about 30 minutes of near solitude and I am almost done with my beer when the guy at a table next to the intoxicated guy decides that he is kinda unhappy with some thing. The both stand – well the one guy stands and the intoxicated feller stumbles to his feet and staggers, then the other guy hits him and he comes flying back at Cody and I's table and falls on it collapsing the table – by this time Cody and I are on our feet backing up on the boulevard. The intoxicated guy ain't moving much and the other guy comes over and starts kicking him in the head – this is where I grab Cody's hand and point to the apartment. As we leave we turn to see what is going on and about 10 guys are attending to the drunk feller and the attacker is wa;llking the opposite way down the boulevard.

Here I thought the boulevard was a safe family gathering place! The only times I have seen a drunk here was once or twice along the road as they were sleeping it off or once or twice along the promenade as they begged. I definitely have not seen any violence anywhere; the Ukrainians

seem to be very gracious overall if not mostly quiet and private.

So we headed back to the apartment and watched a kung fu movie that the boys left here – definitely did not need to know English to understand this one – in fact I though t about turning the sound off as it was detracting from the movie!!

At 8:30, I walked Cody back to the Orphanage – we were karate chopping each other the entire way – with a few ninja moves thrown in. Ukrainians probably think that Americans are pretty juvenile – I don't care – it was fun!!!!

Here is a photo I found interesting. They are putting a two story porch on the front of the Atlantis night club. I have been watching the progress trying to figure it out. They have put a

stairway on each side. The other side is done and here they are welding in the landing between the two sections of stairs. Notice that the landing is being supported by the crane. After they welded in the lower section of stairs, they put a support under the landing and remover the temporary supports. Should it have been done from the ground up?


am at the Hotel having breakfast again – my new favorite place. I took the Marshriutka again and it was the most packed I have seen! I didn't worry about pickpockets cause I couldn't even get my own hand in my pocket. It was mostly a bunch of older women in their late fifty's – wait a minute – I'm in my late fifties! At least there wasn't any body odor that I could detect and I didn't smack any babuska's.

OK - here it is - new sunglasses - my idea not Cody's but he likes them! Cody just pointed out that I have not posted a pic of his new tennies - there are in the photo with the sunglasses and this was taken last week last week

when we got them.