Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cats of Ukraine: Don't Pet the Strays!

I'm not supposed to pet the stray cats, but this one was hanging out by St. Andrew's church in Kyiv. So, Kitty can't be diseased since God is on her side. Or something. DON'T JUDGE ME!! IT WAS A MOMENT OF WEAKNESS!

Also, this is my "OMG KITTY! I WANT TO CUDDLE YOU!" face.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Kyiv: моє улюблене місто в світі.

I just got back from Kyiv last night. I love that place. (For those of you who can't read Ukrainian, the title should read "Kyiv: my favorite city in the world.") Instead of writing a long, boring account of what I did, I will do a list. With pictures. Because I can take pictures. And even post them.

1. I love my little city, but arranging travel to and from Rezekne is a bit of a pain. (I usually have to take a train or bus to Riga and then go from Riga to wherever.)

2. Rezekne is quiet at 6 am. 

3. Kyiv is worth the bother of travel. 


4. The workshop sessions were useful.

5. Talking to the other ETAs about our similar situations was even more useful.

6. Puzata Hata rocks my socks off. Cheap, easy Ukrainian food for the win.

7. Our sessions lasted until about 4pm, which didn't leave much time for sightseeing, but David and Beth are champs at fitting in a lot of sights in a short amount of time.

8. After the ETAs left, I headed to Independence Square and the apartment I rented with my lovely friends: Matt and Laura!

9. This greeted us upon entrance into said apartment. Hmmmm

10. I've seen Kyiv a few times before, but it's great seeing the city again with people who have never seen her.

11. We had a moment to chill with Bulgakov. 

12. Laura shares my love of folk culture, so we made the trek out to the folk architecture museum. 

13. We posed with some pysanky.

14. I'm pretty sure that pre-modern Ukrainian villages had giant pysanky dotting their landscape.

15. Honestly, the folk architecture museum is best seen on a warm, summer Saturday.

16. Saint Sophia's still makes me incredibly happy. There is something about this church that is just peaceful, even with copious amounts of tourists.

17. I'm not really religious anymore, but places like Saint Sophia's and Saint Michael's makes me realize that humans are astounding creatures and the ability to believe in something as nebulous as a deity can inspire some amazing things. (And some pretty horrible things, but I don't dwell on that while chilling with Sophia and Michael.)

18. Peaceful, no?  Despite the chill, there is something to be said about experiencing Kyiv outside of the normal tourist season.

19. Lastly, I recommend taking a gander at my friend Matt's blogs. He is in Kharkiv (the second biggest city in Ukraine) with his lovely wife Laura for the year. He's much better at taking photos of stuff and I know he got some some good shots of Kyiv. Marvel with a Mango and Use My Camera

This blog post is brought to you by Regina Spektor's Apres Moi.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


I went to Vilnius. It is, of course, a gorgeous city. Most capitals in this part of the world are gorgeous.

 Sometimes, while walking around cities like this, I realize that the architecture no longer excites me in the same way it did when I first started traveling in this part of the world. I don't know where that awe went?

Then, sometimes, I turn the corner and find something like this: 

And I remember why I love traveling.

There are some weird parts that set Vilnius apart from other cities. Užupis is one of those parts. Unfortunately, I picked November 1st to go exploring and most of the shops were closed due to a holiday.

Couples engrave their initials on the locks and lock them onto the bridge. 

In 1997, the area declared itself independent. Their constitution is pretty great.

 My favorite part is "Everyone has the right to love and take care of the cat."  and "A cat is not obliged to love its owner, but must help in time of need."

The area has a lot of art in random places. I approve of this.

Vilnius also has a lot of graffiti. I kind of dig the juxtaposition of the graffiti and the old architecture. Since I don't speak Lithuanian, if any of the following tags are offensive, my apologies.


I love the mermaid in this shot. This was along the river at the border of Užupis.

My hotel, Downtown Market, was pretty good. The shower was a bit dodgy, but the price and location were right and it wasn't a hostel. They provided a pretty good breakfast each morning in my room.

I'll leave you with my favorite shot. The tree is is covered with knitted sleeves. It does get chilly in Vilnius, so I'm glad the tree will be warm.

Next week is Kyiv. I'm stoked! And I'm very glad that I'll get the election results surrounded by Americans.

This post is brought to you by Missy Higgins' song "Hidden Ones.

She's holding a torch in her hand
Pointing towards Heaven
And on the streets below her, people living out of trashcans
Are trying to believe she's got a plan

We dug a hole under the sea
But nobody knows how to stop the bleed
There's 999 channels on my TV
And I still have no idea what to believe

There is a choice
Follow the leader
Or use your voice
Cause this will just keep up
Until we make a loud noise
And the hidden ones speak up

Over the water to the east
Two million in a square refuse to sleep
Till every pleading voice is heard
And all the world has seen
Revolution pull king down to his knees

Because they made a choice
Not to follow their leader
But to use one voice
Showed ordinary people
Can make a really loud noise
When the hidden ones speak up