Sunday, March 17, 2013

Kiev Again!

It has been six months since we went to Kiev last September for our Kazakh visa.  So, it was time to go again.  We left Astana early Monday morning and arrived in Kiev ... Monday morning!  It is a four hour time difference and a four hour flight.  We were happy to see our friend Viktor who picked us up at the airport and took us to get our visa clerk, Elena, and then go to the Kazakh consulate.  There we found out that the fee for visas for missionaries had increased, so we had to find a place to get some US Dollars.  Luckily, there was a Western Union nearby, so we were able to turn in our application before the office closed for lunch.

The weather was a bit warmer in Kiev.  The river there is now unfrozen (defrosted?)  But during the night, it snowed.  It was quite pretty the next morning.

This is a view outside our hotel room.  The lumber yard in front of the hotel looks nice covered in snow.
I took this photo while it was still dark.  It was beautiful to look out and only see the lights from the temple.  No other lights were turned on yet.

 The photo does not do it justice.  But it was a beautiful sight.
We were glad we had brought our big boots so we could walk to the temple.  It was about a 30 minute walk.  We were early enough to go into the Kiev Mission Office and visit with our friends Elder and Sister Ricks from Rexburg. 

The sign says I am a Child of God (in Ukrainian).  They shared some of their extra Liahona magazines for us to bring to the elders.  They were so excited to get some new reading material!
We enjoyed getting to see some of our temple friends.
The next day we ventured into the city.  We decided to find some real American pizza at Domino's.  Someone scolded us for not eating Ukrainian food, but we did have our share of borsh and vinagrette and some other native foods.  We came out of the Metro, not sure which way to go, and there it was!
They have these cute little scooters to deliver pizzas.  They were pretty busy that day.  And we enjoyed a taste of something familiar!  Alan had to do a little sign language to help the girl understand he wanted onions.  He pretended he was cutting something and had a tear running down his face!
You can see that it warmed up a bit, because the snow is melting, making puddles everywhere.  We wandered around a little bit and found a few interesting things.

Here is a statue of Lenin just off the main street.

It is a big busy city.  The shops in this area are like Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana.
They have a carousel set up with a plastic cover for weather protection.  Not too many of the ice cream kiosks were open, or they were selling coffee instead of ice cream.  I didn't get a photo of the McDonalds nearby, but it was very crowded as usual.  We had to do a little more sign language for ice cream cones.  We know the word for "ice cream", "мороженое", but for "cone", we had to draw a swirl in the air.

And a photo, for my friend Anadine!
After we got off the metro, the ride back to the hotel on the marshuka was not so great.  There was construction / road repairs on the highway, and some accidents to boot.  It was taking forever!  The driver took every shortcut he could by driving into a parking lot or gas station along the highway and then speeding ahead to get in front of some of the traffic.  At one point, he had the two right side wheels up on the sidewalk to pass by some cars.  I was the only one on the bus that seemed worried about tipping over!  We were glad when we made it back safely!
We found these cute little candies at the nearby supermarket.  Bounty is like Almond Joy, but without the almonds.
The Kazakh consulate is closed on Wednesdays, so on Thursday, we headed back to pick up our visas.  We thought about maybe going back into the city in the afternoon, but our bus ride the day before made us decide otherwise.
So on Friday morning it was raining.  We thought about walking over to the temple, but we'd have to drag our bags with us, or leave them at the hotel.  Then, our driver called and offered to drive us over to the temple.  We spent some time in the church and mission office, then got to attend the afternoon session.  When it ended, our friend Viktor was there to drive us to the airport.
We decided to get a bite to eat at the airport.  We were in a different terminal this time.  Some of the airport food we've encountered is not so great.  There was a pretty nice Italian place in this terminal, so we got some soup and salad.  Then we went upstairs and through security and what did we see????
T.G.I.Fridays??!!  I was so sorry to be full already!  I could have had a chicken quesadilla!  Well, now we know!
The plane left Kiev at 10:30 pm and we arrived back in Astana Saturday morning as the sun was coming up.  Can you say jet lag?
We were surprised to see that they have been working hard to clean up the snow and ice in the courtyard.  The parking lot is still icy and slippery, but the children seemed happy to be able to play.  Someone even had a new bike to try out.
So our temperature got above freezing!  It is 47 F as I write this.  We took a short walk this afternoon and where there was snow, now it is sloshy and / or puddles of water.  Spring may actually be around the corner.  We'll see!

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