Monday, June 17, 2013

Parks, apartments, go carts, and pho

Friday night, 7 PM, the weekend began! I'd just finished leading 2 speaking clubs and caught a glimpse of this fading rainbow on the way out of the building. An auspicious sign, hopefully?
The next day we were out the door at noon, off to view an apartment near Moscovskiy Prospect. I don't know much about the area except that it's home to Turboatom (Турбоатом), a factory that employs almost 6,000 workers and produces turbines.
This car looks like it's decked out for a wedding?
"Where should we go?", D shouted into the phone over the roar of the nearby traffic. The landlady was on the other end of the line. "Okay, Koshkina 15, got it!" he answered. We checked Google maps and set off down Plekhanivska street, which was pleasantly wedged between a green space and a park.
Koshkina 15 turned out to be extremely difficult to find, as it didn't actually exist. After confirming this with a handful of passerby and shopkeepers, D called the landlady back. "No, no!", she said, "We're at Kovtuna 15!" Oops.

Behold, Koshkina 5, should you ever need to find it! 
So, running way past the scheduled meeting time, we turned around and headed back the other direction.

Both at the moment and in retrospect, I'm really glad that we ended up wandering up and down Plekhanivska street. The landlady wasn't mad- although perhaps she thought we were idiots- and it was so nice to see a new part of town. And I definitely would never have known anything about Mikhail Koshkin (creator of the T34 tank, a kickass Soviet tank in WWII) had we not found a street named after him and seen a statue in his honor.
The journey took us though a beautiful park. Google calls this park "Artem Park". Signs in the park labeled it "Rope Park" and the even odder "Sauce Park". Yeah... your guess is as good as mine on that one! When we saw the giant chicken I realized this park is home to the Alley of Glory that we visited last year. If you're in Kharkov I urge you to spend an afternoon here. Don't mind the rather post-apocalyptic pictures I've chosen below; there are lots of green meadows and clean benches nestled underneath rustling tree branches.
We passed families pushing baby strollers and groups of laughing 20-somethings lounging in outdoor cafes. I really, really wanted to stop for a beer (my new habit!) but sadly there just wasn't time. Maybe the next visit. Or maybe we can borrow someone's kid and go here together:
Side note to those of you who are keeping track: found one more giant buried up to his neck!
The actual end to this apartment quest was short: located the building at last, met a silent husband and gregarious wife who were renting out the apartment their relatives had been living in. The thing about older apartments in Ukraine is that they were all built according to Soviet design, which means almost all apartments have the same floorplan. This one-room apartment was identical to my student's one-room apartment, which was in turn identical to the one we originally lived in. The rent was the most attractive thing about the place but even if we'd wanted it, two girls had just been there and rushed off to get their documents and a deposit. And so the search for an apartment continues.
Kovtuna 15
Then we rushed back to the metro and traveled to the other side of the city to meet a friend/student named G for lunch.

Another recommendation: Умами (Umami). The restaurant is up on the third floor of the Dafi shopping mall. How could you possibly resist this?
They make an amazing pho soup- best I've had outside of Shangri-La in the Barabashova market! My head is now filled with dreams of getting delivery from Umami... but unfortunately delivery is free only with an order of at least 300 uah. A girl can dream, I guess!

After lunch we hit up the arcade on the same floor for several rounds of air hockey and then G drove us (hooray! a car ride!) to Akademika Pavlovna for some go cart racing. Akademika Pavlovna, by the way, is the same place I took the rainbow photo at the beginning of this post.
Leaving the Dafi mall, G's dash cam. You know this is a big thing now in Ukraine and Russia, right? 
The guys loved the go carts! I wondered- don't go carts usually have seatbelts? The guy in charge said "Don't hit the brake too fast or you'll fall out of the vehicle." :p
Afterwards we visited the Mojito bar, an outdoor dining area attached to Radmir. I had high hopes for this place, since I go by it every week on the way to class, and those high hopes have. been. dashed. Everything started out okay, but it turns out they're not a fan of cameras. I understand that concept- "no pictures!" were the very first words I ever heard in Ukraine and they'll undoubtedly be the last, but this man at the Mojito bar was just so mean. Let's just say he did an absolutely impeccable imitation of a prison guard dog. It literally left me in tears. I wish Evil Cat could have come along to protect us with his patented "so what?" look.
Speaking of which, it is Кит's birthday- he's a year old! Look for a special entry in his honor soon : )

Even though Saturday ended on a bad note, Sunday brought my spirits back up with 3 fantastic English classes and a visit with a friend from Kiev. Also, one of my very first students here- back when I didn't know the TOEFL from a toe- dropped off this goodie bag with cool souvenirs from Sri Lanka.
Tea for life!!!!
I'll leave you with a shot of this massive storm cloud that rolled into town the other day. If it weren't for storms like these, we wouldn't see the rainbows afterward.


  1. -----Google calls this park "Artem Park".
    Yeah, thanks to me. But previous it's name would be funnier for you. It's like: "Central Park for Rest and Entertainment named by Artiom" )))))
    Rope park - is a huge attraction on that territory. Actually, a big part of that territory was stolen (seized) by close to goverment people...I think that fence on the picture can be their.
    And the last, about carts. We're going to ride them this Saturday's evening! What do you think about? Want to join? You're invited :)

    1. Hi Pavlo! Haha, I do like that name : ) Why did the government close off part of the park?

      Thanks for the invitation, but this Saturday I've got plans... maybe next time? Hope you guys have fun! Drive safe :p

    2. I like you like it:)
      Some businessmen, who have close relations with Kharkiv government want to build there a shopping mall (you can read more on wikimapia in Russian
      My plans for Saturday were broken. So we changes them and going to the rope park in Gorky park (possible to have discount-coupon and use 8 attractions for 72 uah only) on Saturday morning