Way more info than most of you want to know, but here you go!!
It's hard to believe it's been an entire day since we left Florida, but here we are, set up in our apartment and exhausted. I think I'll work backward because that's the way my mind is functioning right now.
Our apartment is on a historical street in Kiev. When we arrived on this street (after driving around a while listening to the young men, ?Acho? and our driver ?Sa'ria? argue about which way to go) Acho went into the building and wandered around some, he made some phone calls, and finally said they'd meet us there in 25 minutes. We walked down the street (old cobblestones) and slid our way around until we found a vendor with a map of Kiev. For 10 grivnias (about $2) we found one and then slid our way back down the street to the car. Just a few minutes later a young guy (yes, I'M calling someone young! He had to be around 20-22 MAYBE) came and let us into the building. The entrance is off of a courtyard that's through a little alley from the street. There is a gate by the road to access it. Then you put in a code by pressing two numbers at the same time- not one after another- and enter a DARK corridor. No lights inside, just one at the bottom. Then there are unfinished concrete stairs that are very obviously part of the "history" of this street. Up 3 flights of stairs and you come to the apartment. Using a really neat key you go in to a hallway. There are three doors on the right side- the first is the bedroom (or mostly just a bed), the second the "bathroom" and the third the toilet. Right, the toilet's not in with the shower, sink, and clothes washing machine. On down the hallway at the end is a refrigerator. Then the hall turns to the left and there's another small hallway. This one has some bookshelves at the end and a small table with a microwave and coffee maker on it. On the right (somewhat where the halls meet) is a 'living room'. It has a TV (which doesn't work) a couch, and two chairs. Also a nice cabinet but I'm not sure what it's for ☺
We are impressed by how nice the furnishings and the layout of the INSIDE of the apartment are since the corridor to get to it leaves much to be desired. The only thing Mike doesn't like is the strings of beads hanging down in the bedroom doorway. I can't help but think "Mail order bride" when I see them… Oh well! It is a nice apartment and when I asked Acho if it is safe is shrugged and nodded, said it is in the middle of the city. I guess we'll be ok! I'm glad this isn't where I'll be by myself. I couldn't do all these stairs- especially in the dark- with a kid in tow.
Ok, so that's the apartment, now for when we arrived in Kiev at the airport. First, we get off the plane on a REAL gate! In Frankfurt we landed and parked, walked down the stairs to a waiting bus, held on for dear life while they drove like crazy people around to the airport, then dropped us off to walk back up the stairs and into the airport. It was quite the ride! So back to Kiev… We arrived at the airport and got our bags fairly quickly, then followed the leader like lemmings through a few rooms until reaching one room with people packed in and filling out papers, standing in lines. We finally figured out that we needed to fill out a form with our arrival information. Then a lady comes over and sends us from the forever long international line to the Ukrainian citizen line. In our attempt to say "we're not citizens" she spouted off something in Ukrainian and waved us over then left. So we moved. We get to the front of the line and the person in front of us is sent back to fill out the "other side" of the arrivals/departures ticket. Surprise surprise… we were too. Apparently you have to fill out both arrivals and departures in the beginning. Weird. So we filled it off and got back into line.
We got through there and walked through the rest of customs, questioning a little whether we should stop anywhere or not but we walked right through. Weird again. I thought we were supposed to be given a paper on the plane that said how much money we were bringing in?? I KNOW that I've heard people say this, but we weren't. We got out into the area where everyone is waiting for their family and friends along with a ton of people wanting to be your driver. It's actually kind of intimidating to go through it! Off to the right in the back is a young man (yep, using it again!) who had to be right around our ages if that. I want to say younger, but Mike would possibly say a little older. This was Acho.
We attempted to ask Acho about declaring money and he quickly dialed Natalia on the phone. She introduced herself and we did the greetings and then she said that as long as we didn't bring over the allowed amount of cash we are fine. No need to do anything else. Hmm… Ok… Since we didn't see anywhere to do this anyway, we decided to take her word on it. We'll find out Monday whether or not this was a good idea when we try to turn in the traveler's checks! I'm afraid this may be a problem!! UGH. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it though.
Acho brought us out to the car and we met Sa'rai – the driver- and headed out. He drives a cute little Audi ☺ Next stop was a store to buy a cell phone and to exchange some money. We dug a little money out (we'd only had travel money on us and not enough to change over immediately nor to pay for a telephone) and went inside. At the time we didn't realize that we'd be doing both at the same place though, so we only brought in the money for a phone. Surprise! I had the other money on me, just not accessible, so I asked out helper people whether there was a restroom nearby. They asked someone that basically said 'no' and they said there's one down the road at a restaurant. Uh… no, thanks. So I asked Sa'rai to bring me out to the car and I retrieved some money that way. We went back in and exchanged it. Wanted to make sure we had enough grivnas for several days so that we don't have to keep running to the bank. I sure hope that the TCs are able to be cashed out though! Or else… we might just have a problem.
So I'll back up a little further now. Our plane trip ☺ We left the house around 9:45 on Friday morning and my mom drove us to the airport. This was after Kristopher said a very happy "goodbye" and was off with Grandma and Grandpa Cornish. And after I got to sit and rock with Brianna with tears streaming down my face. I already miss them both. But I didn't want Kristopher to see me cry. Brianna went willingly back to Aunt Elizabeth so that was good, and we were off to he airport. Sorry this is so scattered. It's 6pm here and 11am at home. I've had about 3 hours sleep- in a combination of 3 attempts or more- since yesterday when we woke up at 7am. (and only went to bed at about 1am!).
Ok, so where was I?? Our flights… Orlando to DC was uneventful. We had lunch at Orlando airport and sat around for a little while before boarding our first flight. Then when we got to DC we had a pretzel (Mike's had a hot dog in it) and drinks. We sat on the floor near our gate because there weren't enough chairs nearby. It was actually kindof funny because Mike and I sat down in this big open area and there was noone around. But I guess since we were doing it everyone else could too? The floor area was covered with people by the time they called for boarding.
On the DC flight (to Frankfurt) we tried to sleep, tried to read, but it was all difficult. The guy sitting next to me on the plane was quite the character. He was interesting. Going to meet friends in Vienna, off for a little break from work after having to work through the holidays. I'd guess he was about 30, give or take a year or two. He was very nice though. Justin? Or Jason? Something like that! The overseas flight was LONG. But it was ok. My knee was sore by the time we were getting off, and there was about a 4 yr old kid sitting behind me that threw fits about every hour the entire 8 hours. Thrashing, kicking my seat HARD, and CONSTANTLY while throwing these 5-10 min fits. It was lovely. I couldn't help but pray that that's not me on the way home… I honestly just think the parents didn't care. They were asleep while he was throwing fits. It was awful. But besides that everything was good ☺
Then we got to Frankfurt. This airport was unusual. I already told about the LOOONG bus ride to get from the plane to the building, but then when we got to the terminal there were no signs or anything to ay where to go. We wandered a little thne finally found a 'service' desk and asked there. The lady said we could check in upstairs or just at the gate. We opted to go upstairs and I'm SO GLAD we did! The first line we stood in we found out was the ticketing area, not the check in, so then we headed to another (much longer) line. We got checked in, even had seats next to each other, and went downstairs to go to the gate. But we couldn't. They don't allow you in the gate area more than 10 minutes before boarding. So here we were with about 45 minutes to spare and nowhere to go. We went upstairs to a different floor so we could at least use the restroom and get something to drink. After trying to buy a drink a few other ways we eventually ended up buying Mike a coffee at a Haagen Daaz store. I bet it was good. And since we didn't have any Euro to pay with we had to pay in USD, but they didn't seem to mind.
We went back downstairs and eventually found another corner to hide in until we could go into the gate area. We sat there for quite some time before going and checking in. Then the flight was delayed 30 minutes, so we sat inside the 'secure area' for a really long time. We met some interesting people while waiting. A 50 yr old woman that was going to Kiev to have fibroids removed from her Uterus. And she's had 3 rounds of IVF that have failed already and intends to come back to Kiev again when she's recovered from this surgery for one last attempt at IVF. Interesting? What's even more interesting is that eventually things came around to our adoption and at the very end that we're adopting a child with Down syndrome. As she left this woman said "I think it's really neat that you're adopting a child with Ds. I don't think I could do it". Hmm… But you're 50 and trying to get pregnant? I kind of hope she doesn't get pregnant… Is that mean of me?
We also met another lady that is from Kiev. She married and moved to the US and is on her way back to visit family. Her husband was just deployed with the US armed forces to Iraq for a year.
Well, I guess that's all the events of the past day or two. Now we're watching a movie on the laptop and just had some microwave mac 'n cheese for dinner (and a snicker's bar and slim jim bc the mac 'n cheese were even gross!). I had to boil water for the mac too because we haven't been able to buy any bottled water yet. Tomorrow we'll venture out some and get water at the very least, and hopefully will get in some sight seeing ☺
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