Zhitnii Rynok

CLO (Community Liason Office) 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!!

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.

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

Learning a New Language..

I am super fortunate that I have some extra time on my hands now to do things around the house, explore my neighborhood, run errands, catch up on things I’ve been wanting to do that I haven’t done in a long time, such as uploading a year’s worth of photos onto a photo hosting website, and to learn a new language..or two.

The Embassy arranges for employees and their spouses to learn the local language if they wish, up to 4 hours of tutoring a week. I am fully taking advantage of this benefit!!! Here in Ukraine the two main languages spoken are Ukrainian and Russian. As I have mentioned in a previous blog post, I have been using the app DuoLingo to learn Ukrainian. It has helped me, but I figured that since there are quite a few countries where Russian is one of the languages spoken, it might be more useful to take Russian lessons than Ukrainian. Russian can be used for our time here, for when we travel to another Russian speaking country, or perhaps if we get a future post in another Russian speaking country.

Although at restaurants most menus have an English translation under each item, at food courts and food stands, the menu is usually in Ukrainian or Russian, with little to no English. It is a challenge to look at a menu and not know what the items are or how to pronounce them correctly.

In addition, the front desk attendants in our apartment building do not speak English, which is another motivating factor in learning Russian. I have had to use Google Translate to communicate.

My tutor and I meet twice a week for two hours at a time. We discuss situations that I might encounter on a daily basis and how to communicate with Ukrainians using Russian. I have learned a lot of vocabulary and phrases. My pronunciation is getting better each time.

I had to get a big notebook to take notes, as I am learning so much each time!! Our lessons are pretty free-form, as my tutor writes words and phrases based on our flow of conversation about everyday life.

I feel that I have learned more in my 4 weeks of Russian lessons than I have in 7 months of DuoLingo- not to discount DuoLingo, because I have learned a lot, but the tutoring lessons have been so practical!! Not only am I learning the language, but we discuss cultural differences and nuances as well. It has definitely been a productive use of my time, and I highly recommend it to anyone going to a post where they do not speak the language.

Mariinsky Park

A few weekends ago my husband and I stumbled upon a gem of a park here in Kyiv- Mariinsky Park. It was lightly drizzling, and we were taking a walk. I saw what initially looked like a small park, so I said “let’s explore this park when it’s not raining.” Well, we circled around the area, and the rain had let up, so we decided to check it out.

The park was much bigger than I initially thought it was. That weekend there were two festivals/events with music going on. The first one was a cultural festival and the other was a stage with a DJ and electronica music. I only took pictures of the cultural festival, where there were singers and dancers dressed in beautiful costumes:

After spending a little time checking out the festivities we continued walking through the over 130 year old park.

There are many events that are held throughout the year at Mariinsky Park, so we will definitely visit again!! For more information about the park, check this out:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mariinsky_Park