Saturday, September 21, 2013

A day in Kiev

Post by Astrid:

Jennifer and I decided to be adventurous today and check out Kiev's metro systm. The reason I say adventurous is because their system has three different lines, a total length of 66.1 km, has 51 stations and carries 1.4 million passengers a day!
Initially the plan was to go to Monestary of the Caves via metro transit. So, we figured we'd check it out first before we go with the boys. Google maps helped us figure out the route to the closest station, Maidan Nezalezhnosti. The cost of a token/ticket is just 2 hrivna! ($0.25 US). You pay once and you can travel as far as you like. You only repay if you leave the metro system and want to re-enter. We got our ticket and went in the direction where the rest of the people were going, down a loooooong escalator that takes you to the platform. Some of the stations are very deep because they were built to be bomb shelters to protect citizens in case of a nuclear attack. When we got to the bottom we stopped to look at a sign to find out the direction of our next stop. It felt so intimidated, especially since I'm not from Ukraine, don’t speak the language and can’t read cyrillic. A few seconds later two middle aged women asked us if we needed help. Whew. Relief. We showed them our map, and they said, 'Ah. Arsenalna. Come with us'. At 105.5m deep, Arsenalna is one of the deepest stations in the world. We walked with them a while, they pointed us in the right direction and we were on our way. Only standing room left, we got on the train.  Two stops later and some incredible balance, we got off. There were many beautiful churches, museums, monuments and such in the area. After wandering around a while, we decided to head back home (To our apartment). We got on the train,  looked at a confusing map of the metro system and got off because we thought we took the wrong train, went on the train going the other direction, got off at the next stop, found out the station we wanted was the one we just came from, so we waited for the next train to take us there, which took us to where we wanted to go.
A few hours later Vicky, Jennifer and I went to a concert at The National Philharmonic of Ukraine. We checked to see if there's any upcoming concerts when we walked by the building yesterday on our way to The Friendship Arch. Jonte opted to stay home with the boys under one condition; we leave him alone during Sunday football. Good deal? Yup! 
After a brief 10 minute walk, we were there. The lobby was one big commotion. We looked around a little and saw a stream of people heading up the stairs, we followed them and got to the auditorium. It's a lovely, intimate venue, with beautifully detailed architecture. This year is their 150th season. A kind lady led us to our seats, where we waited 30 minutes for the concert to begin. I was mesmerized by soloist, David Geringas. He played phenomenally and with so much heart. I believe he felt he was the only person in the room. The orchestra played incredibly, sucking us right into their world. Some parts were quiet and slow, and then loud, fast and very upbeat. At times my head, fingers and feet were going in rhythm with the music. When I closed my eyes, it felt like I was in a mystical land; right out of a fairy tale. It was magnificent! I feel incredibly grateful to have been able to experience such amazing talent! 
A 'bua' sitting in front if us didn't share our enthusiasm. He kept nodding his head, not in beat with the music, but with his dream. Our assumption was that he was dragged there by his parents. But, who knows. 
A little about Mr. Geringas. He is a world-renowned Lithuanian cellist and conductor who studied under Mstislav Rostropovich. In 1970 he won the Gold Medal at the International Tchaikovsky Competition, and  has performed as soloist with the greatest orchestras around the world. 
Now you're probably wondering who Mstislav Rostropovich is. If you're not, tough, I'm telling you anyways. He was a Soviet and Russian cellist and conductor, and is considered by many to have been the greatest cellist of the second half of the 20th century, and one of the greatest of all time! 
The days excitement didn't end there. When we got home, Jonte came out of the bathroom, his shirt was all wet. He told us he turned on the jacuzzi jets when the boys were already sitting in the tub. Totally alarmed, they jumped up on him like two squirrels scurrying up a tree. 
And, theres more. :) While taking a bath, Jared's first baby tooth fell out! 

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