Some more, somewhat random thoughts on our recent trip to Ukraine (to read all my Ukraine posts, click here):
– I irritated the Ukrainian customs officers quite a bit at the Kiev airport. Not because I was trying to; more because I was clueless. But they waved me through anyway, with a roll of the eyes, two quick flicks of the wrist and a sound kind of like “Pfft pfft”. I’m sure they were thinking ” *sigh*, Amerikanski“.
– The experiences and sufferings of the Crimean Tatars in World War II, and in particular the event they refer to as the Deportation, are incomprehensible to most of us. To the Tatars, the deportation is the key to how they see themselves; it’s a big part of what makes them Tatars. I hope to write on that soon.
– I wondered how the DJ at the Matisse restaurant knew were were Amerikanskis. Jill made the wise observation that we were the “fat and loud” group – a dead giveaway.
– Europeans absolutely, positively do not believe in ice.
– In Ukraine, when you buy groceries, you have to pay for the grocery bags. When you buy french fries, you have to pay for the ketchup.
– Plov tastes good.
– I’ve been told that the dollar is weak when compared to the Euro. Ukraine, thankfully, has the Grievna as it’s currency. . . Amsterdam, unfortunately, does not. A normal meal in Amsterdam cost us the equivalent of about $110 US dollars, prompting my one and only episode of trip-stress.
– I really liked Grievnas.
– Ukrainian currency features pictures of writers and poets.
– I was, evidently, the only person in all of Ukraine wearing white Nikes. Another dead giveaway.
– In discussing cultural differences with Aliye, she made the interesting point that we seemed more “open” with our kids. In their culture, adults will not usually play with their kids. Aliye was intrigued by how, in her words, “we seemed like equals with our kids”.
– Did I mention how I, in a swirling snowstorm, stared down the entire former Soviet military apparatus to regain a lost bag at the Simferopol airport? More on that in a later post.
– Ukrainians are more reserved than we are. When we were on the bus in the Kiev airport that shuttled us to our plane, our family was laughing and joking. I remember the sideways looks that many of the other passengers were casting at us. They were just quietly riding, no doubt thinking ” *sigh*, Amerikanskis”
– I joked with the kids that we should pretend to be from Canada while we were in Europe, to avoid confrontations with anyone who was not happy with American foreign policy. So now and then we would drop an “eh” or a “what’s that all aboot?”, so as not to blow our cover.
– No one ever confronted us about American foreign policy, even though it was pretty obvious the whole time that we were Americans.
– I said “Spasiba Bolshoi” many times on the trip. It means “Thank you very much”. People were wonderful to us.
– I also learned how to say “Excuse me”. It is “Ees Venitye”. The way I remembered it was because it rhymes with “Pleased ta meetcha”.
– I want to go back.