Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Little Show and Tell

I know many of you are enjoying hearing about all we are learning about this area, so I wanted to share a little bit of that today. I will post more pictures as we go, but we are getting ready to board the overnight train to Alina's hometown, so I don't have as much time as I would need to cover this topic in depth.

Yesterday we toured a thousand-year-old monastery complex here in Kiev, as well as a few other historic churches, war memorials and museums with our driver's daughter, Olena. We had an amazing day, and learned so much about this country and its rich history.

Olena is fluent in Russian, Ukrainian, German and English. She speaks English very well, and we really enjoyed learning about WWII, Stalin, Lenin, The Red Army, the Orange Revolution, and the history of this country’s religion, architecture and culture from a Ukrainian perspective. It was a priceless opportunity.

Some things we learned: While the eastern part of the country is heavily Russian-influenced, the western part (including the Carpathian mountains) has a distinct Austrian influence. The western part of Ukraine is also predominantly Catholic. The eastern part is predominantly Christian Orthodox.

There is really an interesting mixture of architecture here in Kiev. Some of the buildings are opulent with intricate detail (designed to show the greatness of the Soviet Union), some are utilitarian Stalinist structures, and there is also some very modern architecture—all mixed together. The older area of town by the new Parliament building is very beautiful and established, with lots of old buildings and big trees. The crocus are blooming here, and I am guessing the trees and bushes will begin to flower in the next month. They are just beginning to bud. The monastery we visited had a courtyard which will be full of roses this summer and lots of magnolia trees. I bet it is gorgeous here in late June.

There are a lot of parks and other areas for leisure. Everywhere you look there is something interesting!

Yesterday, the main street that runs in front of Independence Square was closed to cars (as it is every Saturday). This huge street, and people just strolling or skipping right down the middle. It was so great.Here is a statue which symbolizes victory from WWII:

And check out this gorgeous display of hand painted eggs:

More to come of Ukrainian culture, food, architecture, history, religion...



  1. I miss it so much already!

    The train ride was awesome too, I loved it. It's so old fashioned. And I woke up extra early to watch the sun come up over the tree's as we approached Zaporyzhia and the overwhelming, almost indescibable feelings of knowing we were coming into where our little boy is...not even knowing we are coming for him or how his life was about to change...
    It's a feeling I will never forget, and it was a time of solitude and thankfullness that I will always treasure.
    I hope you experience the same...

    I can't wait to hear about your meeting :)

    I also can't wait to see if you get to know Alexander!!!

  2. Yay more history...I love it. And in this vain I have to share with you that my side of the family is getting together today for our belated Easter celebration and I was given strict orders to bring this yummy cheese bread from Bristol Farm...when I was there last night to pick up a few loaves I saw this other round yummy looking bread...when I looked closer it said "Ukrainian Bread" so I thought that would be fun to bring to our gathering as well so popped it in my cart so I could tell my family all about sweet little Alina while eating Ukrainian you are just hours away from meeting her.

    (This bread seems to be wheat with sunflower seeds inside and rolled oats, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds on the outside)

  3. Stunning! Absolutely beautiful! Our girls will enjoy seeing the pictures and hearing the stories of our time in their country. So glad you're able to soak up so much of the sights and culture. Hope the train ride goes well!


  4. Thank you so much for sharing all of this culture with us. What a journey.

  5. Just beautiful! I love that you are trying soak up the culture and the beauty of the region! (I love even more that you are sharing it with us!:)

  6. Hi Mom! I didn't get to see you today on Skype, so I decided to check out the blog :) Those pictures are gorgeous! The sky is so blue, and the architecture is absolutely amazing. I can't wait for you guys to be able to meet Alina. I'll talk to you tomorrow!

  7. I can't wait! I can't wait!

  8. GORGEOUS! Oh I'm getting so excited now!!! Beautiful!

  9. Okay I am biting at the bit....can't wait to hear about your visit!!!!! :) :) :)

  10. oh wow, the EGGS!!! :)

    NOW, where is Alina????? :) Praying all went well!

  11. I love all the posts with the history and pictures. I've always thought this area would be wonderful to visit, and I'm glad for the chance to get to see some of it through you.