Sunday, June 24, 2012

Kyivska Metro and the Zhuravlevsky hydropark

We hit the streets this afternoon to escape the oppressive heat of the apartment. First we fled to the metro, to the coolness of the underground, and there we chose a new destination at random. Then I realized that we've explored quite a few metro stops already- what will happen when we've explored them all?
If we get a prize, cool!
But maybe it'll mean it's time to move on?... {sad sigh}

Kyivska was one of the remaining unexplored stops. It's one stop past the cosmopolitan Pushkinska so I thought it might have the same bustling city feel of Pushkinska but no, it's more suburban. Private homes are tucked behind high walls or face the street with windows of lace curtains and old newspapers. The area must feed a lot of its residents; we passed ripening apples, apricots, grapes, and walnuts. (Chestnuts too, but D says that people here don't eat them.) And the flowers, the flowers!

These two churches just begged to be captured on camera.

Not far from the metro was a gigantic construction of glass and steel. Finally, one of the fabled РОСТ supermarkets!! I haven't been in many supermarkets here and had been hoping to stumble across this particular chain eventually. This РОСТ was three (!!!) stories high. The first level- food- was disappointing. It was the same old stuff, just more of it. It seemed like almost half of the floor space was taken up by alcohol aisles patrolled by young women. I don't know if they're there to help you make a selection or to make sure you don't steal? The good news: they offer the elusive ceramic-machine-gun-full-of-vodka that, despite me dropping several hints, D didn't get me for my birthday this year (and then someone else bought the bottle at our local grocery store). Hint, hint, D :p
The word РОСТ translates to growth in English.
The third story was children's clothing. The second story was MUCH more exciting! They had a stationary store! Or at least the closest thing I've seen to one in Kharkov. They even sold envelopes. I don't know why it's such a struggle to buy envelopes, but people are always out of stock or have only one strange size. Even the post office is often out of envelopes. I was also able to buy a notebook with decorated pages that can be torn out and trimmed and used as stationary. At last!

The second story also features a tasty cafe. Unsure of size (yes, it's still an issue) we ordered two pizzas. They turned out to be gigantic! And each pizza came with a free coffee / beer / tomato juice, so the entire order only cost 60 grivna. That's comparable with Pizza Maranello prices. And the lady behind the counter was friendly to boot. Unbelievable!
A $7.50 lunch
РОСТ cafe

After lunch we continued our walk, this time keeping an eye out for old USSR murals and emblems.

Cool, aren't they? 
Click on them for a better view.

After a billion more miles of walking, a guy asked us where the hydropark was. Hydropark? We scratched our heads and shrugged. Then we noticed everyone crossing the street and disappearing into a forest. He followed them. We followed him. The hydropark was discovered.
As we stood on this bridge, three vacationers passed under in a rowboat. "Ukraine!!!" they yelled, "Отдыхаем!!!" (We're on vacation! or maybe We're just chillin'!) Several women rode by on horseback. Swimming heads bobbed in the water. We found another bridge, this one with a couple of love locks and a proclamation:
My sunshine! I love you!
Then, as we exited the final bridge, I saw an old man and a goat. The old man was watching all the swimmers and families and carousing beer drinkers. The goat, well, the goat was just calmly eating leaves.
I didn't take any more pictures of people on the river bank after this because it didn't seem right. Instead we just walked and looked and listened. Kids swung out on a rope over the river, working up the nerve to let go. A guy swerved sharply on his bicycle, fell off, and started cursing loudly. A grandfather picked up a tiny baby from a stroller and held her close. A loud pop shocked everyone as a middle-aged man opened a bottle of champagne from the passenger seat of a car. He grinned and chased after a woman on a bicycle, spraying her as the champagne fizzed out of the bottle. Two old women collected weeds in a shopping cart while their dogs lounged in the shade. A jetski raced by. Beer bottles and garbage were, sadly, everywhere.
Curious about the Zhuravlevsky hydropark? Here's a 22 second YouTube video. The park didn't look that established today, so maybe they're still setting things up.

And of course, the perfect picture to end the day:

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