Friday, September 7, 2012

How to spend 30 uah

Let's talk about awesome. Let's talk about the Kharkov zoo.

First off, you can get through the gates for just



In fact, if you show up in the winter around 4 or 5 PM, they'll even let you in for less than 30 uah. I like this. Until moving to Ukraine I'd only gotten to the zoo twice in the past 8 years. With an average winter temperature of -20F/-28C, Fairbanks, Alaska obviously has no zoo. When we moved down to Anchorage we visited The Alaska Zoo once. It cost the equivalent of 100 uah and to see what?- moose?! No, thank you. I still remember nearly getting trampled once by a mother and her twins on a bike path. Another winter everyone lived in terror of a large moose who was always lurked down in parking lot of our building. We never went back to The Alaska Zoo because it housed mostly animals that literally hung out in backyards or frequently disrupted traffic. (The other zoo trip? Honolulu, Hawaii. Totally recommend. But that's neither here nor there...)

So 30 uah will get you in the door but it's good to bring an extra handful of small bills for all the extras: beer, cotton candy, and корм (animal food). Yes, that's right, you can feed the animals! The non bite-your-head-off kind, at least.
Ladies at card tables will sell you bags of lettuce, carrots, and other crunchy veggies for a small fee. Psst...the elephants are the most fun to feed!
And whatever the animals don't eat, the big rats gobble up. Then the haughty cats that slink around the zoo get to earn their keep. Or I imagine this, for I've seen the rats darting around but I've never seen the cats show any interest in a chase.

Let's go back to the bills. I was excited to discover that the man on the front of the 20 uah note is none other than Ivan Franko.
We meet at last!
Every time I hear Ivan Franko (which is often) my first thought is automatically this guy, James Franco, but no, no relation :P
Look, it's The Alaska Zoo!
Ivan Franco died back in 1916 but he is well remembered in Ukraine and in Canada, where some of his descendants ended up. Like Shevchenko, Franco was a writer, poet, and political activist. There's even a small city in western Ukraine that's been named after him- Ivano Frankivsk. Franco is BIG in L'viv, his hometown, but I've never been there. If anyone has and has a story to tell about his presence there, please leave a comment!

Meanwhile, the man on the 10 uah note is no slouch either. In fact, it's another Ivan!
Ivan Mazepa- another badass Hetman
He's a bit older than Franco. If Mazepa were still alive when Franco was born in 1856, Mazepa would have been almost 170 years old.

For most of history Mazepa was branded as a traitor (by Russia). With so many haters, is it strange that he ended up on a 10 uah bill in Ukraine? Perhaps this is one of those freedom fighter vs terrorist point-of-view issues. Check out the complex story of his trials and tribulations on Wikipedia.

On the back of the 20 uah note is the Lviv Theater of Opera and Ballet, which opened 112 years and 27 days ago. Do you think it's possible that Ivan Franco attended a performance there before his death?

On the 10 uah note is the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, aka Kiev Monastery of the Caves. It's been named one of the 7 Wonders of Ukraine. For humor and a couple gorgeous photos, read this blog post. For a single picture that will take your breath away (can it be real??), click here.
I think the musical instrument is a kobza?

And there you have it. A fun way to spend 30 uah in Kharkov and a quick history lesson about the bills you'll hand over to do it!

Want more zoo? Try these:
A Winter Trip To The Zoo In Which This Narrator Almost Gets Eaten
The Kharkov Zoo In October (Photos)
The Kharkov Zoo In November (Photos)
The Kharkov Zoo in summer (Photos)

Still curious about the Ukrainian grivna?
50 uah
100 uah
500 uah

Don't forget to stroll through Shevchenko Park before/after the zoo!

No comments:

Post a Comment