Getting Around Kyiv

There are a good amount of methods of transportation that you can use to get around Kyiv:

Tram:

For 8 UAH (about $.25 USD) you can purchase a one-way tram ticket. Trams come approximately every 15 minutes and are fairly speedy. You buy your ticket on a tram and then use a machine on the tram to punch holes in the ticket to show that you are using it for your trip.

Metro:

Also 8 UAH (about $.25), you can purchase a one-way Metro ticket. Kyiv’s Metro is one of the deepest metros in the world and is super fast.

City Bus:

Another option is the city bus, which I have not yet taken. I have heard that they run quite frequently and are faster than the tram.

Uber:

Uber is super cheap here in Ukraine and I rarely have to wait more than 8 minutes for a ride. On average they have been around 4 minutes wait time for me. To get around town costs about 75-125 UAH (about $3-$5 USD) on average.

POV (A.K.A., your car):

We have a sturdy vehicle for road trips and weekend use. The issues with driving around Kyiv are there is rarely any on street parking (just make your own spot sidewalk parking) and the occasional parking garage has super tight parking spaces if they exist. Additionally, the streets are not in the best condition and you will be apologizing to your car for all the potholes that you will drive over. My advice, have very good shocks on your vehicle and bring whatever extra parts you anticipate needing replacement.

Zhitnii Rynok

The CLO office here in Kyiv recently arranged a shopping excursion for new arrivals to post. This past weekend we went to several places- a Rynok (a food market), Epicentr (a cross between Target and Home Depot the size of IKEA) and Auchan (a hypermarket/supermarket that also sells some home goods, similar to Walmart).

The first place we went to was Zhitnii Rynok. The Rynok had two levels. On the upper level were Vyshyvankas (traditional Ukrainian embroidered clothing), and the lower level had food stands with fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, nuts and spices for sale. I bought a half kilo of dates (1.1 lbs) for around $4, as well as some veggies.

Outside of the Rynok were other fruit and vegetable vendors as well. I will definitely be back as there were so many options and other stores inside the Rynok.

Botanical Gardens

Recently I took advantage of the gorgeous weather here in Kyiv and ventured out to see the Botanical Gardens. Located just off the Universytet Metro Station, the Botanical Gardens are free to enter, and offer a lovely escape from city living.

Locals were sitting on benches enjoying the sunshine, kids were playing (there was a playground there as well), and I can imagine it would be a great picnic location as well.

As you can see from the picture of the map, there are many different walking trails, and I only got to see part of the Gardens. I will have to go again to explore more!!

2 Months In..

Here’s a little I’ve learned in these past two months living abroad:

1)Knowing where to shop for food and home goods is absolutely key. And I do believe there is a workaround to just about everything. Even if that solution means ordering something online. Ask around, use the CLO (Community Liason Office) as a resource, but I am telling you, things I didn’t think I would find here after going to 6 or 7 stores I ended up finding. So ask around.

2)Things will be different to what you’re used to, and that’s OK. Another country’s version of Mexican seasoning might be different from what you are used to, people might park cars on sidewalks, KFC might not have biscuits or extra crispy chicken breasts, but just roll with it. There will be things that each country has that you will love (hello online grocery ordering and Georgian food), and some that you don’t. That’s part of the adventure of living abroad.

3)PCS (Permanent Change of Station), A.K.A., moving from one country to another is brutal. It is mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting. It is stressful. PCS weight gain is a fact and the packers will try to pack things that they shouldn’t. But the good news is that you realize you can survive on few items, and it doesn’t last forever. And when you get your HHE, it is like the best day ever.

4)Embassy folk truly are amazing, giving, and so welcoming. I could not believe how quickly that they have become friends, sounding boards, and a wonderful support system.

5)Take language lessons!!!! Trust me on this, it will help with everyday life. And Google Translate is a lifesaver.

6)Having facilities come and fix things around the house and hang up artwork is kind of awesome. As is packers helping unpack your HHE.

7)Use every weekend that you can to explore!! Go to all the parks, malls, aquariums, festivals, and things that you can. Take trips around the country or to neighboring countries. Take advantage of the fact that you are living in a different country for what is in the grand scheme of things is a short time and make the most of it.

8)Missing important events back in America kinda sucks. In the past couple of months we have missed birthdays, a high school reunion, and a funeral. Do what you can to be included such as FaceTime and let people know that you really wish you could be there in person.

9)Do what you can to maintain a “normal” everyday life. Subscribe to Netflix or Hulu or YouTube TV to watch your favorite shows, make FaceTime dates with family and friends back in America, and for goodness sakes occasionally suck it up and pay the higher price in the commissary for some familiar foods.

10)Leave as many U.S. electronics at home as you can (sell or donate them) and buy local electronics with local plugs and voltage at post. Even though we are provided a few transformer boxes, you will want your transformer for other more important electronics such as computer or the living room T.V. You don’t want to risk ruining your hairdryer, flat iron, or precious kitchen standing mixer or the transformer provided at post from using said U.S. voltage electronics. Also, you might have to use your U.S. voltage appliances in interesting ways, such as this:

Yes, that’s a griddle on the floor of our kitchen. Ahhh glamorous overseas life…

Oceanarium

This past weekend the hubby and I decided to take a trip to the Oceanarium here in Kyiv. It was close to the Darnytsia Metro station, and provided a little zen and relaxation to our day. There were some fish that I hadn’t seen before. For example, a leopard printed eel!!

It was smaller than most aquariums I have visited, but I must say it was an enjoyable hour spent here!!

Flea Markets and Street Vendors

Lately we have been checking out flea markets and street vendors around Kyiv for unique items.

We found a pretty large flea market full of books, movies, dvds, clothes, and so on. Definitely worth going once for the experience but at that time there was nothing I noticed that screamed “buy me!” It didn’t help that we went later in the day when some of the vendors had already closed up shop. We ended up at a galleria across the way with a solid food court and some good shops where my husband and I got some deals, and then to an Epicentr a block or two away, so the day wasn’t a total loss.

Yesterday we stumbled upon a long row many meters long of street vendors on Andriivskyi Decent, which is a long, windy road here in Kyiv. There were so many unique, hand crafted items and artwork!! We will definitely be back there again.

Oh Happy Day- HHE arrived!

To follow up on my post a little while ago, our HHE arrived on Monday!! It took the movers a grand total of two hours to unload and unwrap everything, and only one thing broke- a red wine glass. So, I will call this a success!!!

The movers were very efficient and professional. They helped put boxes on top of my closet, rolled out rugs and moved my dining room table so that a rug can be put under it, and put the bottoms onto the TVs. They handled everything with upmost care.

For the past 3 days, I have been washing every kitchen dish, cup, bowl, utensil, etc., doing about 5 loads of laundry per day for all the towels, blankets, etc. in the shipment (this includes our regular laundry), wiping down the grime from some of our stuff due to being in a crate for about 2 months, and organizing/putting everything away. I still have more to do, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It has been labor intensive, but not as stressful as the packout. Lesson learned- at the next post we go to I will hire someone to help with all the cleaning and laundry when HHE is delivered:)

Monday night my husband hooked up our new TV to speakers, a computer, and a PS4 (yep, perks of being married to a techie). Our apartment is already feeling warmer, cozier, and homier. And I never thought I would be so excited to use our dishes again, eat with our silverware, or drink out of one of our Starbucks mugs. But I was ridiculously excited. It’s the little things in life that I took for granted that make me happy I guess. Like being able to work out with my heavier weights again!! Also I was able to buy flowers (sunflowers) for the first time in a long time because I have a vase to put them in now!!!!

Now the only thing left to do is to have facilities come out and hang all the artwork. That’s right, they come to your home and hang everything for you!! Hopefully they will come tomorrow. Until then, I will keep on cleaning and organizing, and take some time to stop and smell the roses that I intend to buy today for the living room:)