My time in Kyiv: An overview
Just as I was starting to feel comfortable in Kyiv, more into a routine, I moved. Two Sundays ago, my roommate and I sat on our couch to thank our apartment for the shelter it provided and the good times we had. (Kyrylo, someone helping organize our year in Ukraine, said it's a Ukrainian tradition to thank your home).
Though I was sad to leave, I am happy to be in Lviv, the city that made me fall in love with this country three years ago. I was here with my mom and her cousin for only a few short days. We spent one of those days visiting family in a village outside the city. My mom and baba have been in contact with them for years, but it was my first time meeting them. (And guess what, I'm going to visit again this weekend!)
I was in Lviv for a short time, but I haven't stopped thinking about my time here — the music on the streets, the centuries-old architecture, the smiling faces. I'm sure this sounds like any other European city, but it's different. I guess the Lviv energy is something you have to experience for yourself.
Back to Kyiv. I've tried to keep you updated on what I've been up to, but I didn't end up posting about a few events and excursions. So look on below for some photos (be sure to click the arrows to see all photos) and summaries of how I spent my two months in Kyiv.
Someone told us we'd be committing a sin if we didn't visit the Taras Shevchenko National Preserve — a museum and the burial place of the poet, artist, and hero of Ukraine — while we were in the country, so we made a day trip out to Kaniv.
We toured the museum, learning about his life, his lovers, his mentors, and his inspiration. Besides the museum, there isn't a whole lot to see in Kaniv, but we also stopped at a nearby church and a Soviet-era restaurant. The servers didn't say a word to us, the floor was covered in food, and the restaurant had very simple decorations (if you could call them that), but the food was absolutely delicious, and a plate of veggies, mashed potatoes, and chicken cost a total of $3 CAD. (Soviet-era restaurant meaning it hasn't seem to change since those times, when waiters would have been paid the same no matter how they treated you, and buildings/businesses all had a standardized look, hence the lack of decorations at this restaurant.)
Exploring the streets of Kyiv
There is lots to see in Kyiv, different neighbourhoods showcasing their own sites. I tried to walk around as much as I could in my spare time. Here are a few photos from those walks.
A Canadian Thanksgiving in Kyiv
Within our first week in Kyiv, us Canadians were joking about having a Thanksgiving party with our new Virsky Studio friends. I say joking because at this point, we had barely spoken to the dancers (I guess we just knew we'd hit it off) and because we didn't think any of our apartments would fit 40 guests.
But then a Facebook event was created, the word spread, and sure enough the party was a go. We did research on where to find Thanksgiving classics, we split up who was responsible for what, and we had the Thanksgiving event of the century.
My roommate and I hosted the party since we had an oven and the most cooking utensils. The night before the big day, two of the other girls came over to bake six (6) pumpkin pies. Since there is no canned pumpkin purée in Ukraine, we baked a pumpkin and mashed it up. And though we had the majority of cooking utensils, we did not own a rolling pin, but a wine bottle got the job done.
Hannah, my friend and fellow Canadian, wrote about the party so I'll let you read the details on her blog.
In summary, it was an incredibly fun night. We tried our best at speaking Ukrainian, and our guests did their best at speaking English. (Some speak English very well, and others have a limited vocabulary. It still amazes me the friendships we've built even though we don't speak the same language.) I brought some small Canadian pins with me from home so handed them out, and wow, they were a hit. Some of the dancers wore them all week to practice!
It was fun to share our Canadian traditions with them (we even taught them a Ukrainian-Canadian dance or two) and to show them that we can, as one of our guests said, "cook, dance, and party."
Folk dance workshop with Rozhanytsya (and friends)
As current/future choreographers and instructors, it's important for us to learn the origin of Ukrainian dances so we keep them authentic. We attended a dance workshop with the folk choir Rozhanytsya at the Ivan Honchar Museum. Rozhanytsya, who has performed in Winnipeg a couple times, taught us a few traditional village dances.
I attended Kurazh Bazar at Art Zavod Platforma in September and October. It's part market, part concert, part food fest, and a whole lot of fun. The first time we went, it was book-themed and the second time it was the bazar's birthday celebration. It was fun to venture to the Left Bank (the other side of the Dnieper River). There were tons of thrift stores (warehouses, actually) in the area, a mall, and a market.
At Kurazh Bazar, I didn't buy much (just a necklace with a Ukrainian flower in it to go with my necklace with Manitoba fungi!), but it's a great place to spend a day having a few drinks, eating some food, and taking in music and art. There were also lots of activities for kids. It's definitely an event to check out while in Kyiv, especially since admission is only $2.50 CAD.
Mariyinsky Park: A nice place for a stroll and a protest
Mid-October, I was feeling the need for some nature. So I walked to Mariyinsky Park, about 35 minutes away from my apartment. The buildings along the way were beautiful, as were the buildings near the park, like the parliament building and Mariyinsky Palace.
There were musicians, skateboarders, horses, people, dogs. It was a popular place. I went on Oct. 16. Starting a day later, it was an even more popular place as it was the site of a protest. Demonstrators were demanding political reform, among other things, in what the Kyiv Post calls one of the largest protests since 2014's EuroMaidan Revolution.
Pyrohiv museum of folk architecture
Pyrohiv, formally a village but now considered part of Kyiv, is an outdoor museum about the homes and lifestyles of Ukrainian people. You can explore the different regions of Ukraine (like Bukovyna, Zakarpattia, and Cherkasy), the museum showcasing the way of life in each region.
The museum grounds are beautiful, and it's definitely a place to check out, though we spent a couple hours walking around and we only covered a few regions. There are also restaurants and shops on site, and various events are held there.
Goodbye Canadians, Goodbye Kyiv
We had one heck of a going away party, featuring poutine and our Virsky Studio friends wearing their Canadian gear. And our friend Oksana sent us off at the train station, making our goodbye to Kyiv that much harder but that much more special. Until next time, Kyiv!