Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Our Christmas Day in Kiev

Since Ukrainians don't celebrate Christmas until next month, we were in the minority here in Kiev.  Sveta, our facilitator, did phone this morning to wish us a "Merry Christmas," when Danelle wished her the same, she said, "We don't celebrate it today." 

We had been told to try O'Panas in Taras Shevchenko Park.  The park, which is one of the oldest in Kiev, is named after Ukraine's most famous poet.  He is the one who not only influenced modern Ukrainian poetry, but also the modern Ukrainian language.  His most famous work is entitled Kobzar or The Bard, which also became his nickname.

There is a great statue of Shevchenko in the park across from the university.

Benjamin's response was simply, "You're going to take a photo of another statue?" 

He was much happier to have his photo taken with Danelle and I in front of the Christmas tree:

Here they are in front of O'Panas:

Inside the restaurant the roof is thatched and the decor is meant to look like a rustic Ukrainian hut.  Benjamin loved the fact that they had live rabbits in cages.  I joked that it was like the lobster tank in some seafood restaurants for those who ordered the rarebit.  He didn't find that funny. 

The restaurant has two floors and since we got there about 12 pm, the lower floor closes at 1 pm (Yeah, I don't get that either), we ate on the second floor, which was cool because it was like eating in a tree house.  Benjamin ordered the roasted turkey with creamy vegetables and Bechamel sauce, Danelle ordered the green Borscht and a salad, and I ordered the Duck in fire (a grilled duck with apples and oranges served with a raspberry and mango sauce). 

While we waited on the food, Benjamin read the copy of the Kyiv Post he'd picked up.  Yeah, he loves to keep up on all the latest Ukrainian news.  And for those wondering, no he hasn't learned Ukrainian, this edition was in English.

To give you an idea of what the second floor looked like (before other patrons joined us) here's a photo:

The food was delicious.  The total came to around $550 hryvnia or around $65 U.S. dollars.  Since we have eaten the majority of our meals in our apartment (from items we bought at market and fixed in the kitchenette) and because it was Christmas Day, we decided to splurge for lunch. 

Afterwards, we took a walk around the park, after all, it was a balmy 31 degrees (Hey, when it's been in the lower teens and the negatives, 35 is practically swimming weather!).  Benjamin and I stopped to pose with a Bubushka on a bench.

We walked back past the opera house and the many busy intersections in Kiev.  They are very aggressive drivers and walkers.  When the sign that counts down to cross an intersection hits O, they walk forward (cars or not).

Then we went to our local market to buy 2 more large bottles of water (we've already gone through 6 bottles this week, but we use them for everything from drinking, cooking, and brushing our teeth). 

Back at the apartment again, we played games, listened to Christmas music on my iPod (Perry Como singing "Home For the Holidays" made Benjamin sad), and Skyped with our sisters and my Dad.  It was great talking to all of them but it made us even more home sick.  Still, we were glad to get to be with them, even if it was only by computer.  We just wish we could've seen Cava somehow.  He has been in our hearts and minds every day since we left his boarding school.  Of course, we can't wait to celebrate Christmas with him next year! 

Our family also missed our other member, our dog Chloe.  Benjamin missed her the most since the two of them are inseperable and our dog isn't man's best friend but boy's.   We did get a Christmas photo e-mailed to us of our little "Santa Chloe."

After eating Raman Noodles for dinner (This is what you get when you splurge on lunch!), we watched the movie "Elf" on DVD.  Apparently not too many in Kiev have seen this film because smiling is definitely not their favorite.  Still, I like to play a game as we walk along the sidewalks or in the metro, to meet people's gaze (They do tend to stare at my Shirpa hat) and smile to see if they smile back.  I don't get too many takes, but when they do, it makes me feel great, like I've accomplished something. 

So, while this may not have been our "typical" Christmas, it was still one full of family and new memories.  We are grateful for our family and the child we are lovingly added to it.  Our families back home are excited about Cava and cannot wait to meet him.  My sister and Dad are already buying him clothes and shoes (since he cannot bring home any of the clothes he has at the boarding school because they will pass them on to another child). 

We hope that all of you had a very Merry Christmas.

Luda, our translator, called us that night to also wish us a "Merry Christmas."  Danelle replied this time, "I'd wish you a Merry Christmas, too, but I know it's not your Christmas yet."  Luda then told her that she had phoned the SDA today and they told her, "You called us yesterday."  When she said that she would call them again tomorrow, they replied, "Don't call until around 5 pm because we won't know anything until then."

Today, we find out if we get our court date for this Saturday.  All of our hopes and prayers are that we will because we miss our dear son and brother, Cava, and want so much to see him before we leave for the U.S. on Sunday.  Since we probably won't find out anything until after 5 pm, that will have to be another post.

1 comment:

  1. Have you ever tried Ukrainian food? It is both healthy and very tasty. I strongly recommend you taste local food while your Ukraine vacation. In case you are not going to visit this Eastern Europe country, you can discover more about Ukrainian food in Ukraine travel guide  then look for online recipes and try to cook it at your home.