Saturday, December 19, 2009

Winter Wonders

World's Tiniest Snowman reminds me of a January visit I was privileged to pay to the grand and beautiful city of Kiev, Ukraine. The city was beautiful, even in the midst of January snow and ice. Gold and blue onion domes, the Dnieper, matryushka dolls - every blessed frosty moment of that day will be treasured.

Little factoids I remember:

By the natives, it is pronounced Keev, not Ki-yev which is the Russian pronunciation.

The country is simply Ukraine, no "the" in front. "The Ukraine" refers to Ukraine as a Soviet region, not the independent country

Pepsi is Pepsi, even there.

Pan fried potatoes are delicious in any language.

Orthodox churches have no pews because you do not sit in the presence of a king, much less the presence of God.

Touristy little things will seem cheap to you, and the vendors will think you're stupid Americans for paying so much.

Next to one of the churches was a little museum exhibiting tiny carvings, as little as the head of a pin, but gorgeously detailed under magnification -- that's what the snowman reminded me of.

Pigeons are pigeons in any language and inhabit train stations, seemingly the world over.

The people we were with were friendly but most were not - 70 years of trying to be grey and not stand out had made their mark on the Ukrainian people.

But then, that was nearly 15 years ago. I am sure things have changed.

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