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    Posted June 19, 2012 by
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    Eye on Ukraine

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    Experiencing Kiev, Ukraine


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     “My trip to the Ukraine was one of the most memorable experiences I've ever had,” says Jill Thornton of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. This selection of images aim to capture the diversity of the country as well as displaying how "deeply religious the Ukraine is, as well as how patriotic they are," she says.

    My trip to the Ukraine was one of the most memorable experiences I've ever had. I could tell right away that there was still some Cold War consequences in the region, especially since no one spoke English, nor did they want to try. But I can say that I thought Kiev was a very beautiful city, particularly the oldest part of town. I also really enjoyed the food while I was there! I shared a couple of stories below from my time there.

    *One thing I had fun doing was going throughout the Saturday street market in old town Kiev. There was so much to look at, and so many things to buy for an affordable price! It was especially entertaining to see all the unusual war paraphernalia being sold in the booths--gas masks, old Soviet-style officers' hats. etc. It was also hard not to enjoy seeing the old Ukrainian-crafted nesting dolls sharing a shelf with the hand-painted President Obama nesting dolls. We spent quite a bit of time roaming all the tents and booths that wove their way down the cobblestone streets.

    **Another entertaining experience was when me and a couple other ladies walked around old town Kiev. It was a Saturday, with really lovely weather actually. As we walked around, taking pictures of Orthodox cathedrals, street markets, and beautiful architecture, we noticed an interesting trend: there were wedding parties EVERYWHERE. One of my pictures posted above shows 2 brides in one plaza, but there were probably about 4 when I snapped that shot. Every wedding in Kiev, it seemed, had come out to get their wedding photos taken on a beautiful day with the cathedrals as the backdrop. I think we ended up counting 27 wedding parties in about a 2-3 hour period. It was very odd....

    *When it came to communicating with the Ukrainians, at least in my particular experience, there was definitely a gap. One of the most amusing cross-cultural experiences I've had in another nation was when me and a friend went on a hunt for some ice. Someone in our group had fallen outside while jogging at night, shattering his knee cap. When he came hobbling down to the lobby, lifted his pant-leg, and showed us his swollen grapefruit-sized knee, we knew, first and foremost, he needed some ice!

    I only had about 45 minutes to go hunting, though, so me and my friend rushed down the street to the nearest store. We looked all over, but couldn't find any ice. I tried to attempt a game of charades with some of the store employees, but I got the firm shake of the head, and a dismissive, "Nyet." I finally found a friendly face in the produce section....and I can tell you, acting out the word "ice" is really difficult! I was so entertaining, a couple of ladies were gathered around, smiling with amusement as I tried to act out this complicated word, until finally one lady shouts out "lee-yod!"

    That's ice? Yes, they nodded. I motioned around the store, Do you have any here? They laughed, Nyet.

    Moving on. Now we're rushing down the street to another store. I walk in, determined with my new word to find ice. I find a store clerk--a girl, maybe about 17. She'll help me, I thought. I run up to her saying, "Lee-yod. Lee-yod. Brrrrrrrr..." and commence my charade. She just smiles and, in clear English, says, "Are you looking for ice?" I grabbed her by the shoulders, YES!

    Turns out, Kiev doesn't sell ice the way they sell it in the US. My friend and I practically ran back to the hotel, since I had a deadline. No ice, and no success, though. Defeated, we walked back into the lobby. To our surprise, our injured friend was sitting on a couch with a HUGE bag of ice on his knee. We exclaimed, "Where did you get that?" He replied, "Oh, someone went and asked if the lobby bartender had any ice."

    Panting, sweating, and traumatized from our city-wide search, we said, "Right.......the bartender...."
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