today was our first day in kiev - kyiv - i love love love kiev!!!
we took the night train from lvov. we splurged for first class. we shared a 4 person car with a ukranian grandmother and her granddaughter. (who my brother noted is very cute). i slept very well - aparently i snore and kept my brother awake. the 2 of them were traveling from lvov to kiev to attend the birthday party of an aunt, who was turning 36. the grandmother showed me pictures of her brother who once lived in Minnisota - he has since died - she had pictures of the funeral to share. she was very happy to meet an american on the train. it gave her moments to share with oterhs the love she had for her brother.
we got to kiev at around 7:30 am - we found a taxi driver - i handed him a note of where our hostel was. he took us there right away. however the address was just a sketchy alleyway that was unmarked. we were getting used to this - hostels in many ukranian cities are unmarked except by maybe a little bit of english on the side on a paper print-out at best. he was getting pissed that this crazy american girl was wondering around an alley without paying him first. so i paid him and he left us in the alley. however after about a half hour 2 girls emerged from a door to smoke. we snuck in and found the hostel on the second floor. we were buzzed into an apartment full of birtish footballers who were visitng for the english/ukraine world cup qualifyer match (set for today in a city 8 hours form kiev). (oh, england lost, however they have already qualified for the 2010 world cup in south africa).
the hostel is HI Hostel Really Central. The hostel is "based in a great Stalin-architecture flat with 4 meter high celings, offering dorm beds and 2 private rooms and two large toilets". The hostess Nastia, is a wonderful cook, who makes omlets every morning, and cooks ukrainian dinner every tuesday, thursday and saturday. (and, yes, boys, she is young and cute, born in Minsk Belarus.)
We made friends in Lvov, and 2 of them, Neigel and Bev, met us hear the first night. Neigel had a bit of bad luck - he was pickpocketed shortly after arrival on the Metro, and then when he got to the flat, he got a bloody nose from his illness.
Another flatmate is a woman form Poland who now lives in oslo, who has given me much in polsih history and contacts to look up family members.