On the 22nd, I took a tour of the city with Sergei and Tim. I took a crowded, hot bus into town with Sergei in the morning and then took the metro into the city center. Kiev is divided by a river, with the suburbs lying on the east side and the city center and downtown lying on the more elevated (and hilly) west side. He pointed out a few things to me, including the parliament building, the soccer stadium, and their main square.
We also passed a bridge made covered with the infamous love padlocks of Europe. He said that despite the padlocks, the bridge is a popular place to commit suicide for people who have given up on love.
I spent the afternoon with Tim, a sound producer that is Ira’s nephew. He took me by St. Michael’s Monastery and then we walked down by the river.
It was interesting to get his opinion on Americans and learning English. He said he learned English through Winnie the Pooh books. He would sit down and translate the book into Russian and then show his aunt to check him off. He said he did a new page every three days. We got dinner at a Ukrainian restaurant and then went to his apartment to see his studio.
He mixes music for some Ukrainian singers and was telling me how much he had to change their voices because they can’t really sing. I’ve never heard of any of the singers, but I guess they are a big deal in Ukraine. We then met up with his friends at a pizza restaurant. I didn’t have any real idea what they were saying because only one of them spoke English, but he did a good job translating.
On the 23rd, I mostly slept in and wandered around Ira’s apartment complex and took pictures. The suburbs of Kiev are full of these communist-era apartment complexes that look pretty much the same. It is completely different from anything I’ve seen back in the states. I suppose in some major cities, some people might live in something similar, but I’ve certainly never seen it before.
I did manage to find a McDonald’s so I could use their free wi-fi. People here must see me and just assume I’m Ukrainian or something because as soon as I opened my mouth to order, everyone around me starred at the foreigner. Luckily, the words ‘Big Mac’ are pretty universal.