Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ukraine vs. Spain Hockey Game

I put together a little movie of our experience at an Olympic qualifying hockey game between Ukraine and Spain when we were in Kiev.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Graffiti #7: The Face(s)

UPDATE:  I found my first multi-colored Face behind a fence:

One of the most prolific graffiti artists in my neighborhood around Freedom Square is the person who paints these monster faces. To me, he looks like a bizarre relative of Oscar the Grouch.  I've been wanting to post this first face basically since the day I arrived as it was the first graffiti art beyond someone painting a word or letters that I came upon.  

I'm glad I waited though as I've come upon many more examples of this artists work.  Here we have a basic monster with almost a happy look on his face.

And with the addition of some eye brows and a hat [is that a hat?] it looks a little more menacing.

These last two are the most disturbing I think and they are located right next to each other on the same street.

This one looks to be a work in progress that was possibly interrupted mid-spray.

And last night as we were walking home from dinner I saw another piece located down an apartment's alleyway but lurking around a Kharkiv alley with a camera at 9:30pm is not the best idea so that will have to be for another day.

More Shevchenko

Snow arrived in Ukraine on Saturday but it didn't stay too long, I'm afraid.  The snow looked particularly lovely brightened by the statue to the poet Shevchenko.  I wrote a little post about him back in September.

One Shevchenko statue deserves another, doesn't it?  This one is located in Poltava.  

And here's another statue...this time from Kiev.

At a museum in Poltava they also had this amazing mosaic of Shevchenko.  

Since being here in Ukraine I've embraced the need for a nice mustache and I'm trying to do my best Shevchenko impersonation...although it will probably take years to get it as bushy as his.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Car Talk

So what is going on in Freedom Square's Day 3 of setting up the city's Christmas tree...which is a little surprising they are setting it up so early as much of Ukraine is Orthodox Christian and their Christmas is celebrated January 7th.  It's a difference in the Gregorian and Julian calendars that causes the difference.  

So that's what's going ton currently but how about a few weeks ago?  How about a car show?!  Why not!  While I'm pretty good with American cars these European ones are mainly a mystery to me.

Along with classic European cars there were also some military vehicles on display.

If I changed this one to black and white it might look like it it was a genuine World War II photo thanks to some collectors dressed as let's give it a try...

And here's the result...not too bad I must say.

Monday, November 19, 2012

To My Readers Who Smoke

To my readers who smoke, bask your eyes upon the most popular brands of cigarettes in Ukraine and the incredibly low prices...a typical brand of Marlboro is 13 hyrvnia which in dollars is about $1.56 a pack...take that and compare it with the U.S. state prices and you'll cry a little.  

Nevertheless, I've been very surprised how not smokey Ukraine has turned out to be.  There is no smoking in most public areas and shops and most restaurants have non-smoking sections that are well ventilated. .  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The T-shirts of College Sophomores

I've often heard it said that the only actual communists in America can be found on college campuses and I think I stumbled upon their clothing store while shopping in Kiev.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Motherland Monument

Without a doubt the most impressive thing I've seen so far on my adventure to Ukraine has been the Motherland monument at the Museum of the Great Patriotic War in Kiev.  Laura rolls her eyes for a few reasons, one being that we've been to many historic and remarkable Orthodox churches including The Lavra which is the center of the Eastern Orthodox religion in Eastern Europe.  We've seen the museum to honor the tragedy at Chernobyl, the site of the Orange Revolution in 2004, and many other spots that could be contenders and I've chosen a severely Russian monument that it turns out isn't the most popular site with Kiev citizens.

It's really hard to miss the monument from anywhere on this side of Kiev.

There is zero parking around the monument so everyone takes a stroll towards it as it slowly gets larger and larger in the skyline. 

As you walk up to the monument they pump in traditional Russian folk and military songs to enhance the experience.  The museum itself is located directly under the monument and as an American it's nice to see an Eastern Front museum as we get almost none of that in the States.

Another view of the 62 meter statue...which is a little over 200 feet high:

Along with the monument and museum there are several statue/murals done in the famous Socialist Realism style.  I love this style so much and this first piece with the Ukrainian people looking at you as you walk by is truly haunting.

Here are a few more murals surrounding the monument:

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Second Door or The Revenge of Joan of Arc

Have I got a horror movie premise for you today!  A married expat American couple move to Ukraine and find an incredibly priced furnished apartment that seems too good to be true.   They move in and everything is great but as the weather starts getting colder they realize that the front door of the apartment is supposed to be a double door and that the second door has been taken off its hinges.  They find the door propped up in a supply closet filled with random junk, a Christmas tree, and cleaning supplies.  They pull the door out with some's incredibly heavy...and they take a look at the hinges and find there's nothing wrong with it.  They carry it down the hallway and attempting to put it on they discover that they have the door reversed and they need to rotate it to put it on.  It's then they discover that the opposite side has been carved in the shape of a praying Joan of Arc.  

They are mystified why anyone would not want this wonderful door it keeps the house warmer and a little quieter from the stairway traffic.  Little do they know that when the door is placed it opens a trans-dimensional portal to the spirit realm that makes Ghostbusters look like My Little Pony.  And through this portal steps the blood thirsty soul of Joan of Arc who returns to this mortal coil to seek vengeance against all English speakers for her murder nearly 600 years earlier...and this time, it's personal.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

High Heels

Discovered when I was reading the safety manual on the bullet train from Kharkiv to Kiev.  The high-heel message might seem odd to you but you really haven't seen high heels until you've been to Eastern Europe but I seriously doubt any of the women would have trouble navigating a train in trouble.   

Yaroslav The Wise

A common theme around Kiev that we slowly came to discover were monuments to Yaroslav the Wise, a former ruler of Kiev around the early 1100's.  Yaroslav is also starring back at you on the two Ukrainian hyrvnia bill.

At Saint Sophia's cathedral you can find Yaroslav's tomb but Yaroslav isn't inside any longer.  I had to covertly take this photo as there were nuns and cathedral workers around every corner. 

Throughout Kiev you'll also find statues to Yaroslav holding Kiev in his hands.  

At the Golden Gate where you'll find some of the last remaining pieces of Kiev's original wall [which didn't put up too much of a barrier to the Mongols in 1240] you'll also find...

...another Yaroslav and Kiev statue.  This one is famously referred to as the Kiev Cake Statue as it looks like he is serving up Kiev on a plate.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I Guess Star Trek Is Universal

Found at a Kiev clothing store.


Kiev is built on a series of hills along the Dnieper River and so the metro stations are some of the deepest ever built.  When you are on one end of the escalator you can barely see the other end.  We timed the trip  and the ride is just over two minutes...which doesn't seem like that much until you are actually on an escalator for two minutes.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Cossacks I Have Known

The Cossacks were a group of Slavic people that controlled Ukraine and Southern Russia from roughly the 15th century through the Russian Civil War when they served as border guards on the Russian armies furthest borders.  And pretty much any democratic traditions in Ukraine can be traced to The Cossacks.  Throughout Ukraine Cossack warriors are memorialized in many public squares and here are some of the Cossacks I have known.  

We begin  with Kharko the Cossack warrior who founded Kharkiv...he's a founding father in the sense of Uncle Sam as he apparently never actually existed.

And a closer look:

Now onto Kiev where Cossacks are front and center.  This is what you see when you come up from the subway in Independence Square in the heart of Kiev.  

I'm currently trying to grow a mustache like his Cossack!

Another statue across town:

This time a lovely copper one:

Yet another statue...this Cossack warrior is holding a bulawa which is a ceremonial club and is the official symbol of the President of Ukraine.