Sunday, August 28, 2011

Spiful, Backpack and Basket Take Over Eastern Europe

Shannon as Spiful!

$110 plane ticket
$150 hostels
$150 train tickets
$100 food
$100 souvenirs
$5 Subway
$7 worth of Doritos
$3 wasted lost of public transportation
Free sleeping in parks

Crazy Back Packing Trip of a Lifetime

Kelsey as Backpack.


If you taste blood...back out!

A car seat...

You mean a tire...

But his eyes were so blue.

Who I gonna kill???

When in Rome... get @#$%^!

I have dog hands.

Quick get the sharpie

7=4= too much public transportation.

This relationship is over at the train station!!

And yours truly as Basket!

As talked about in previous blogs, I went traveling through Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania with my two good link mates, Kelsey and Shannon. It was a great time with so many laughs about random things, delicious food and beautiful sites. We started by all meeting up in Kyiv and then trained it to the east of Ukraine to fly out of Kharkiv. Surprisingly, Kharkiv was super nice and hospitable city. A university student we met on the train gave us an hour and half tour around the city.

After eating Mexican food and a free shot, eventually in the evening we headed to the remodeled airport (thank you Euro Cup 2012). It was a 3am flight with arrival to Istanbul at 5am. We caught the shuttle into the center and located our hostel without too much trouble. We wasted no time hitting the city. Overall, Istanbul had to be the most beautiful city and just had so much culture to take in. It is where Europe meets Asia so how could it not be anything but fantastic.

Enjoying some street food in Istanbul! Yum yum.

Country number two was Bulgaria. We only visited the capital Sofia. We enjoyed some good food and Shannon even found Dr. Pepper. The best thing was doing a free walking tour and hearing all the history. One thing in particular that I found extra interesting was that Bulgaria sided on the Germans for WWII, but they had no intentions of allowing the Jewish population to be devastated. Through politics and not cooperating with the Nazis not one Bulgarian Jew died in a concentration camp.

The last and final country was Romania. We visited Bucharest, the capital, as well as Brasso which is close to where Dracula's castle is in Transylvania. Romania was super beautiful with the mountains right out side both of the cities. We rode a bus around an hour outside of the city to the town of Bran to see the castle. I was expecting a dark and creepy castle when in reality it was actually quite homey. I now wish to retire in my 60s and find a beautiful area to build my own castle.

We made a great travel trio in my opinion. I typically took the lead with being the map person and fortunately only got us off the path only a few times. I enjoyed our trip so much and the traveling around by the seat of my pants on trains that my next big dream is to hit up India and Southeast Asia next.

Thumbs up for hitch hiking!?!?!? Katya from Cash and Carry.

But that won't be for awhile considering that I am a little more settled and have obligations...see next blog for details.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Peas & Carrots

Me and Leo "we were like peas and carrots." Name that movie...

Howdy, howdy! I’m just enjoying a slow morning here in Kivertsi. It is a little overcast and has been showering on and off. Today, my big journey will begin to Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania. There will be two stopovers in Kyiv and Kharkiv. Tonight, I’m headed to Kyiv on the overnight train. Tomorrow, I have an appointment in the office as well as I’ll meet up with Shannon and Kelsey since we are coming from different oblasts. We will all take the train together to Kharkiev to see the sights before catching our plan to Istanbul. I’m pretty excited about this, because I feel like being in Ukraine I don’t travel as much as I did in the states. As a college student, I was always doing different service trips that took me to other parts of the country as well as Africa. My time here in Ukraine I feel much more concentrated in one area.

The local gang spicin' up life with Mexican food.

What new to report…as you can see from the photo above Mr. Leo Walker is growing into a little stud of a man. He is closing in on 15 months and getting cuter with each day. On Wednesday, I got to Skype with him (as well as his Mom and Dad) while he was eating his lunch. He couldn’t have been more hilarious with the way he was eating while staring back at the computer screen. Oh, I can’t wait til I can get my hands on him. It was great to catch up with The Natzke Family. I’ll be excited when I live on the same continent as the rest of my family.

Friday, I had another Mexican fiesta at my place. It was the normal spread of spicy ingredients, but for some reason it tasted extra delicious. My dinner guests in clued the normal Volynska cast: Terry, Val (sitemate), Ben and Dominic. Later in the evening, my Ukrainian tutor/friend Andryi came over to hang and chat. I was surprised how much he liked the food; normally Ukrainians don’t like spice. I didn’t however see him using any hot sauce (Thanks KS & Joseph). Anywho, it was a nice evening of hanging out and catching up. A lot of us haven’t seen each other too frequently, because everyone is going different directions with summer camps, projects, traveling, and language refreshers.

Ice V and Katya (two of the craziest Americans Kivertsi has had the pleasure to know)!

The last week I have just been hanging around my flat. There has been a lot of baking. I think I can say I have mastered chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. So darn delicious, but after baking them I have to pull out the ziplock bags and start giving them away otherwise they wouldn’t last too long around my place. I’ve had a lot of time to enjoy books especially since it has been rainier more than normal for this time of year. Just finished a book called “Through Waters Roar,” it was about three generations of a particular family’s women and how they were all each involved in social movements. It wasn’t a life changer, but none the less a good summer read.

Well I need to run around town and get some errands done before tonight’s night train to Kyiv. I hope this finds you all well. Miss and love you all.