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:)

New Tastebuds??

One thing I have noticed at the restaurants here is the beautiful presentation of food. For example, we went to an outstanding seafood restaurant, and my husband’s food was displayed in shells:

Another example of beautiful presentation is sushi from an incredible restaurant we discovered this weekend:

I don’t know if it is the presentation, but since moving here I have found myself trying new things because they were presented so beautifully.

For example, we dined at a Ukrainian restaurant and decided to try borscht for the first time. Here it is in a lovely bowl:

The borscht was savory and delicious and nothing like what I had previously imagined a beet stew to taste like.

At that same restaurant I also had a chicken cesar salad, which was served with a hard boiled egg on top. The dressing to me was not cesar (it was more of a vinaigrette), and I never had a hard boiled egg on a cesar salad before, but now I love it!

We recently dined at an Italian restaurant and I tried a raw egg on spaghetti carbonara. I would never have had a raw egg on anything before moving to Kyiv, so this was a change for me. Must have been the ambiance..

I have also tried a dish called Adjarian Khachapuri at at Georgian restaurant. Khachapuri is kind of like pizza but without the tomato sauce. Adjarian Khachapuri is simply Khachapuri but with a raw egg on top. It is mixed tableside into the cheese. Here is a picture of what Adjarian Khachapuri looks like for reference:

The result was creamy cheesy deliciousness!!

Since moving here I have also tried a salad with raw salmon (I would never have tried it before moving here). Surprisingly I liked it!! Another salmon dish I have tried since moving here is salmon benedict:

Here’s to just the beginning of trying new things!!!

Weekends Are For Parks

One of our favorite weekend things to do is to take advantage of the gorgeous weather we’ve had since arriving and explore the many parks this city has to offer. One park that my husband and I have enjoyed a couple times already in our time here is Khreschatyi Park.

Khreschatyi Park is where the People’s Friendship Arch is located, and there are walking paths and fountains. There were music performances in the park both times we visited. At the edge of the park is the Parkovy Pedestrian Bridge, which crosses the Dnieper River and leads to Trukhaniv Island. People can bungee jump off the bridge during the summer – we saw a couple of brave souls do so on our walk across the bridge!! Trukhaniv Island is a recreation area with a beach, cafes, and bike trails. During the winter this area is also used for cross country skiing.

Here are some pictures of this beautiful area:

Maidan Nezalezhnosti

One of the more famous landmarks of Kyiv is Maidan Nezalezhnosti. Translated in English, it means Independence Square, and is simply called Maidan by locals. Maidan is a hub for shopping, dining, and people watching in general. Underground is a shopping mall, and the square is a good central place to start to explore the main Boulevard, Khreshchatyk, or to go to Meriinsky Park. It is also not far from Golden Gate and St. Sophia’s Cathedral.

They have street performers, festivals and many other events occurring throughout the year at Maidan. After dark we have seen a water show from the fountain set to music. It is quite spectacular.

For more history and information, check this link out:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maidan_Nezalezhnosti

Waiting for HHE…

When you are living the foreign service or military life, you move from place to place approximately every two to three years. The reality is that you spend a few months (if you’re lucky) of each post without most of your household items, personal belongings, and artwork.

Unfortunately I am the type of person that has an innate drive to “nest.” The very first thing I want to do when moving to a new place is unpack and decorate, which is quite difficult when living at a hotel or temporary apartment and/or without your possessions for months. Add the fact that I am currently unemployed and home for a good part of the day staring at the white walls, to say the least I have been experiencing very real anxiety lately due to not having my fully decorated “nest.”

We packed out the end of April, and for the last 4 or 5 weeks my husband and I have lived either in a temporary apartment or hotel, with just belongings that fit in a suitcase (ummm OK, so we each have three huge 36 inch duffel bag suitcases and a carryon suitcase but you get the idea). We have been extremely lucky that our UAB (Unaccompanied Air Baggage) arrived one week after arriving to post. In our UAB we packed additional clothes, pillows, towels, hangers, a few small household items, and bed linens. Usually UAB is delivered 1-3 months after arrival to post, so we received our UAB unusually fast.

It varies from post to post, but it takes 3-6 months (usually) from packout until the time you receive your HHE (Household Effects). It consists of kitchenware, artwork, decor, and other miscellaneous personal belongings. It arrived in Europe two weeks ago, but it has been on hold in another country waiting to clear customs. We do not have an answer for how long our HHE will take to finish clearing customs, and to continue on to us in Kyiv. At very minimum, it will take another week and a half, two weeks for our HHE to arrive, which will bring us to the three month mark from packout.

Because we know it is in Europe, we know it won’t be too much longer until it arrives here in Ukraine (I hope). That has prevented me from going to Epicentr (a hyper market here in Ukraine which is a combination of Target and Home Depot the size of IKEA, maybe a little bit bigger) and buying all the things for our home to make it a little more “homey.”

Anyhow, we are playing the waiting game. And anyone who knows me knows that patience is not one of my strong suits. Therefore, my current status is I am waiting impatiently for my HHE, hoping that it arrives soon so that we can finally have the rest of our belongings which will finally make this apartment feel like “home.”