Saturday shopping… the Sunday ceremony… the party
Saturday, October 9 KYIV
We’re running low on breakfast junk… tomato juice low, cheese gone, sausage enuf already, tomatoes OK.
So we go off to Coffee Life for WIFI, rolls and coffee, but first to the Radisson to see if I can find a camera chip.
“Any shops in the hotel?”
“No. What do you need?”
“A memory chip for my camera.” I got my camera out and showed him.
“I can order it to be delivered this afternoon.”
“No, I’ll find one somewhere.” But it’s pretty amazing that the guy could/would order it to be delivered in a few hours.
So C got on her beloved iPad internet at Coffee Life while I drank my coffee and ate a chocolate eclair. Emails from Eric and Tom. She responded to Eric.
I called Natasza. A red taxi, license 7304 will be outside in 10 minutes. It will be 33 Hgrievnas (a little over $4). Traveling in Kyiv is pretty amazing, as well.
Waiting for the taxi, I took this picture of our apartment building. We live on the second floor near the corner to the right.
The taxi took us to the market near Natasza’s flat where we met B and N. B took me into a mobile phone shop for a memory card. They had, but the shop person – a young woman of maybe 20 with her fingernails chewed completely off – couldn’t make it fit into the adapter.
Across the way was a bigger electronics store, though I couldn’t tell from the cut-out block letters on the door.
Guy had what we needed: two gig for 75UAH. Sold. Girl in phone store: 120UAH for a 512mb chip… guy in Radisson, 267UAH for same. Now I can take enough pictures to break my computer.
We walked about three blocks past a pre-school and other apartment buildings to Natasza’s building. She’s in a 3rd floor walk-up. Belongs to friends of her parents who have lived in Germany for 20 years or more. Better to have the apartment used than left empty. Natasza has been there 5 years, off and on. There’s no internet available there, so she often stays with her parents where they have internet. Natasza brought out a plate of salami, and bread with butter and caviar.
Back at the market, Natasza produced a list of stuff to get for the caterers of the wedding party. Like the city of Kyiv, the market is very large and virtually incomprehensible. There are indoor parts where merchants are behind glass and one gets service through pass-through windows. Outside, vegetable dealers are side by side with babushkas selling gloves or shirts. I noticed that the vegetables are generally not washed. It’s not an exciting and beautiful market like Barcelona or even Ferry Plaza in San Francisco, but apparently it works just fine. It was busy, but not crowded. Natasza managed to fill my red bag and Brian’s green bag with STUFF.
We went on to the parents flat by taxi for a mid-afternoon repast. The table was spread with what has become “the usual” sausage, cheeses, salads and vegetables. We started with Green Borscht complete with chopped egg; went on to be served homemade kielbasa, rice meatballs, and potatoes with butter.
We finished with a special cake, found only in Kyiv.
At a little before five, Natasza said a taxi would be outside in 20 minutes to take us “home.” There were delays of this and that and who knows what and Mikola showed Carol family photo albums and I looked at sports on the internet with Brian. Finally, about six, we had a taxi and were home in short order. With normal traffic, it’s about a 25 minute trip. Think going from Daly City to our Russian Hill flat.
We flopped and wrote and so on and around eight o’clock went to the Radisson bar for “fat crispy fries with three dips”…. the perfect mid-evening snack, crispy outside, creamy and hot inside; since we couldn’t order a pizza.
Just because we were out of breakfast stuff from Ella, I asked our waitress if I could see a breakfast menu. There’s no menu, she said, it’s a buffet and she recited the usual hotel breakfast buffet stuff, slanted toward vegetables and fruits.
“How much?” I asked.
“30 Euros,” she said.
“Euros?” I asked, incredulous. Dollars would be incredibly expensive for a buffet… Euros are nearly 1 1/2 times that!
“Yes,” she shrugged, as if people really show up and spend that kind of dough.
Sunday, October 10 KYIV, THE WEDDING
Carol and I went to Coffee Life, as usual for WIFI, except this time we got a Bacon (ham) and Cheese Croissant — we’re out of Ella food at the apartment. 72UAH (almost $10) not cheap, but the place has WIFI and speaks just enough English.
Brian called to say that a red car would pick us up at 11:30 to take us to Mikola and Ella. We sprung into action, donning the clothes we brought just for this day. Carol remarked that the weather is very mild, but overcast.
At the parents apartment, we hung around for a while outside while the car was decorated. Mikola picked up about 8 buckeyes and gave them to Carol. She had told him of the Ohio State Buckeyes, and that her family would love to have buckeyes from Ukraine.
Upstairs, the girls are doing girl things in the living room while Brian and I talk internet sports in the bedroom. A very attractive young woman in a very red dress comes in for something and goes back out.
Time to go. Natasza and Carol ride the elevator down; the rest of us: me, Brian, Ella, Mikola and red dress use the stairs. Outside, red dress says, “I wish to introduce myself, I am Olga.”
“Oh, are you a relative, a cousin perhaps?”I said.
“Yes, a relative.” Good. Another person speaks some English.
We got in cars to the church. On the way to the church, we talked with Olga about Kyiv. She has been attending university in a smaller town in Ukraine, but will start in Kyiv this year.
The church is very small, no bigger than a small suburban house, and is described as “being renovated.” I might say, not yet finished. Nevertheless, it has a cupola and onion dome.
We filed in for the service over a carpet runner on the steps. There are no more than 12 spectators, Ella and Mikola not among us. We later learned that parents of the bride do not attend the wedding. A very tall, young priest conducted the service, assisted by an older shorter man and three singers who were situated behind a screen to the side: two female, one male. The priest, reading from a hardcover book, chanted in Ukrainian at a rapid pace, sometimes accompanied by a low chorus. At other times, the singers sang full voice. The singing was very beautiful.
At a certain point, Brian and Natasza stood on a cloth spread on the floor and a man and woman stood behind them. They were given golden crowns by the priest to hold over B and N’s heads. The service went on. The priest would lead Brian and Natasza, the man and woman marching around the lectern. It was rather humorous as all were holding hands and the crown holders had trouble keeping up. I was reminded of the grade school game, crack-the-whip.
The service went on and all the while the little church store in the back corner was open for business. The store operator went out for a sandwich, came back and ate.
The bride and groom exchanged rings. The groom kissed the bride. We all filed out. Cars to the party – Brian and Natasza in the first car; me, Carol and Olga in the second.
In the party room, three tables formed a “U.” Carol, Natasza, Brian and me were seated at the head table. To our left, 14 “country folk” were seated at a long table; to our right, a table of 10 “city folks” (as described by Brian).
The tables were laden with many many dishes, water, juice, wine and vodka. The Muscat and Muscatel wines were very sweet, but Brian scored a bottle of Georgian red wine. The big fish in the middle that looks like a stuffed catfish, is a stuffed catfish. Yum.
Good. Ahead of us, a mistress of ceremonies kept activities moving along, accompanied by a DJ and a musician, who played many kinds of stringed and wind instruments and sang.
The mistress led us in games, dancing, skits, dancing and games as the afternoon and evening and vodka were consumed. Of course there was a repeated chant for the bride and groom to kiss… and late in the party, the bride and groom’s parents were urged to kiss. That was fun.
Around 8:30 people started to leave and we got a car to the city. We changed and turned right around and went to Coffee Life Internet Cafe to check in for our Monday flight to San Francisco. Coffee Life has a full bar as well as coffee for evenings.
It was a good day. Carol said I was drunk. Maybe… Brian and I finished the bottle of vodka on our table.
We took enough food home for our Monday breakfast, our last meal in Kyiv. The next meal would be lunch on Lufthansa: pasta with cheese, mushrooms, bits of tomato and onion; red wine, roll with butter.