Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day 12

Did I mention how beautiful Kiev is! We actually started our day early by Skyping our kids, that was great. We checked out of our apartment by noon and headed to a World War II museum. It was actually more than that. It was a huge outdoor plaza area with tanks, helicopters and other old military war pieces. I wish I could put the pictures on tonight but we are on the night train and we left our camera cord at an apartment in Zap. I can add pictures tomorrow night. There is a huge titanium statue of a woman about 300 feet or more on the top of the museum. She represents the Mother Country. She has both hands in the air, one holding a sword and the other holding a shield with the soviet symbols on it. It is magnificently huge and amazing. We were told that at one time the statue was leaning and they were afraid it was going to fall so they had to reinforce and fix her. They apparently have to do that every so often. When you look up at her you can see the blue sky and the white clouds moving, it is an awesome sight. At the base of the Mother Country statue is a museum all about the war. We didn’t go in there. In the center of the plaza are two tanks, one painted blue and one painted yellow. Yellow and blue are the colors of the Ukrainian flag. Blue represents clear, clean skies and no war and yellow represents the plentiful wheat. The two tanks face each other and the barrels of their guns are crossed. They are supposed to represent first peace in Ukraine and then peace in the whole world.

Before reaching that museum you walk up a wide and beautiful plaza. There are two huge black stone statues on either side of the plaza with soldiers representing the 300,000 soldiers that were killed at that location in WWII when fighting against the German army. As you walk toward those statues, there are plaques with names of war heroes on them to honor the heroes of war. As you head out of the plaza you walk through what looks like an overpass. To me, this was the most amazing part of the day. The walls of the pass are lined with the same style black stone statues carved in the walls. They are of men, women and children of the war and of the holocaust. I felt the spirit so strongly as we walked through there. They had piped in music which those soldiers had sung as they went to war. You could see the stories and the suffering and the anguish on their faces and you just knew at that moment that no matter what our individual trials are in life, they are nothing compared to what those people experienced. It was powerful! It brought tears to my eyes. You could feel those people and could only imagine the horrors they had to endure in their lives. I can’t wait to post the pictures for you all to see. We left there with such a feeling of awe. We were walking on the same grounds that so much of our ancestor’s history took place. I would like to take the boys back there before we bring them home. When we were out in Zap with them I was trying to take pictures of them by important monuments and things so they can look back to the country they were from and remember that they were a part of that land.

After the museum we walked to the Lavra. The Lavra is a very old Church monastery. There is a museum and the underground caves where the tombs of the saints are. We only had time for one or the other so we chose the tombs. These are actual not buried tombs so you see the remains of these sacred saints. To many it is said that they have a healing power and people go there to receive healing and peace. The women must cover their heads with scarves and you take a candle with you because it is dark. We started down the narrow stairways. I got down the third stairway and it kept getting smaller and narrower. I started to feel like I couldn’t breathe. I kept thinking that the space would widen up but it didn’t. I told the others I couldn’t and Hubby and I turned around and went back up. By the time I got out I couldn’t breathe very well and my legs were shaking. Apparently I am claustrophobic. I really didn’t know that. Mom, you would not have liked it either! Hubby and I sat outside and waited for the others. We sat on a park bench and watched two young boys feed the pigeons. It was peaceful there.

When the others came out we had an hour to take the subway or as they call it, the metro back to the SDA to pick up our referral letters. We walked through a park with some more monuments and headed toward the metro. This particular metro holds the record for the farthest underground subway. It took three very long and very fast escalators to go down to the platform. I was not having issues with this because it was a nice open space, even though it was very underground. There was a train pulling out just as we got there and it was very, very, very fast! There were so many people. Our guide told us we need to get on the train quickly because those doors will shut and that’s it. We squeezed on the next train. Hubby held on to an overhead bar and I held onto Hubby. Then we took off like a bullet. We got off at the next stop. We walked through areas that were like catacombs and they finally led to some escalators heading up. We really enjoyed going on the metro, it was fun! We hightailed it to the SDA, got our letter (the girl there was actually very friendly and personable today) and we were done.

We decided to have some authentic Ukrainian food, which by the way is excellent. We ate at kind of a posh restaurant and the food was wonderful. We were with one of the attorneys and he told us to make sure we used the bathroom and took our cameras with us. He said it was unusual. I was a bit nervous, you never know what to expect, but we went. It was really, really nice. Each stall was a little room with curtains on the door. The toilet seat was covered with a clear plastic cover and when you pushed the blue button the plastic cover revolved around until there was a new cover for you to sit on. It was quite upscale for the region. I will post of picture of that also. Dinner was great and we headed to the train station. We are now on the night train heading back to Zap. I will let you know how things go. I send my love to you all. I have found out that a couple of my kids are sick at home including my youngest. For those of you in the neighborhood please check on him for me. It is hard to be so far away from home, I am worried about him. I love you all. Thanks for your comments and prayers, we need them.

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