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Author Topic: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!  (Read 4096 times)

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Offline ML

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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #25 on: December 01, 2018, 01:13:06 PM »
Nice write-up.  Thanks Steve.
Winston Churchill.  The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

Offline GQBlues

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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #26 on: December 03, 2018, 09:41:21 AM »
Thanks for the T/R Steve!

Halusky, yikes! Probably the 'heaviest' food that ever laid in my tummy! So much to love about Slovak food though. One of my fav is buchty na pare..more on the dessert side of it. I miss Bratislava, Zlaty Bazaant/Pilsner...

~Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people~ Gator :P

Online SteveInBoston

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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #27 on: December 05, 2018, 10:29:11 AM »
Dec update #1:

I am currently is Kharkiv airport, waiting with T for our flight to Wroclaw.  Not as good a deal as for Bratislava, but still ok: a little over 5000 UAH for both of us, round trip, on Wizz Air.


I spent 4 nights in Mariupol, mostly indoors as a house husband/boyfirend.  T went out on errands and meetings for her business while I watched Ukrainian TV, washed dishes and browsed the internet. 

She kept making a ton of food, making me eat two or three helpings, and then yell at me that I eat too much.  The she opens something it makes something, takes a couple of bites, then gives the rest to me to finish because she is watching her weight but doesn't want to waste the food.

On Tues, Dec 4, we drove to Kharkiv.  Roads were better than the ones we took from Myrhorod/Dnipro/Zaproizhzhia, and the guards at the checkpoints were nicer as well.  And younger - some looked fresh out of high school.  The first one was manned by 2 younguns.  The got a kick out of my passport,  The only English word they recognized was "Sex"...

It was about 360 km, but took 6 hours.  We passed through Marinka, which is very close to the separatist front line in Donetsk Oblast.  It was grey and foggy, but T said on a clear day you can see the border zone.  She mentioned the village gets shelled every once in a while.  We saw several UN and OSCE vehicles passing us going to the conflict zone as we passed Marinka and drove west.

The only real difficulty we had was the windshield.  The weather was warm and the roads were thawing, creating a lot of slush.  T's windshield wiper fluid line was frozen - she said back in Sept the car service people topped up her washer fuild with water instead of cold rated detergent.  We had to stop every once in a while for me to manually wipe off the mud with a shop towel we bought at WOG (world of gas - T's favorite gas station for coffee and bathrooms, but not gas - she buys that at a less expensive station).

We got to Kharkiv in time for T's appointment.  We have to be back next Tuesday for the follow up meeting.  So, in the meantime, instead of heading back to Mariupol, we decided to fly to Wraclow to visit her friend and from there rent a car to spend the weekend in Prague.


Wizz Air is about 15 minutes ahead of schedule - I will update this post when we land later.

Online SteveInBoston

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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #28 on: December 05, 2018, 03:57:38 PM »
This morning at breakfast at the hotel, there were 2 Americans at the next table.  Single guys, in their 50's or late 40's.  As we walked in and passed them, one was saying something about a date with a girl last night and spending about $800 on the date.  As we ate I heard some more snippets, about waiting to hear back from another girl and one girl that might meet him after she gets off work at 9.

So, either romance tour clients, WMVM or they were using local dating agency/agencies.

We got to Kharkiv airport early, at 16:00.  Our flight was scheduled to depart at 19:45.  We had a couple of gifts to pack, and went to the cafe/coffee bar at the right.  The airport is about the size of Kyiv Zhuliany or Bratislava.  I really liked the airport - it was modern, spacy and not crowded.  So far it's my favorite airport of the 5 I've visited (Boryspil, Zhuliany, Bratislava, Wroclaw and Kharkiv).

Tonight we are staying at T's friend's place in Wroclaw.  Her friend is from Donetsk and her husband is from Crimea.  They left Crimea 4 years ago and moved here.

Online msmob

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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #29 on: December 05, 2018, 11:38:10 PM »
I noticed that the Telekom logo looked extremely similar to T-Mobile.  Hmmm. 

Nice TR

Telekom logo looked extremely similar to T-Mobile.  Hmmm. 

Very observant ! ;)  It is part of the same group ..a 100 percent owned subsidiary


Online SteveInBoston

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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #30 on: December 08, 2018, 10:23:24 AM »
Surprise, Bratislava!

T and I looked at a map and decided to drive to Bratislava for lunch at Roxor BRGR and Beer.  And to buy 3 more pairs of Christmas sox.

No, really.

5.5 hrs to drive South and then SE from Wroclaw, over the mountains and past a closed border checkpoint on E-445.  Was a clear morning on the Polish side, but foggy with remnents of snow on the Czechia side.

After lunch we drove 3.5 hrs to Prague.


Online LAman

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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #31 on: December 08, 2018, 12:14:57 PM »
Surprise, Bratislava!

T and I looked at a map and decided to drive to Bratislava for lunch at Roxor BRGR and Beer.  And to buy 3 more pairs of Christmas sox.

No, really.

5.5 hrs to drive South and then SE from Wroclaw, over the mountains and past a closed border checkpoint on E-445.  Was a clear morning on the Polish side, but foggy with remnents of snow on the Czechia side.

After lunch we drove 3.5 hrs to Prague.

You have a rental car?


Too hard for me to grasp how close many cities/countries are to each other. I need 5-6 hours to get out of state!!
Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift

Online msmob

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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #32 on: December 08, 2018, 12:19:44 PM »
You have a rental car?


Too hard for me to grasp how close many cities/countries are to each other. I need 5-6 hours to get out of state!!

In many European nations the motorways ( autostradas, autobahns, whatever) have higher or no limits - so UK, FR, BE, NL and Germany can be done in a day

Online SteveInBoston

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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #33 on: December 08, 2018, 12:20:44 PM »
Yep, a Fiat Tipo.  About $100 US for a 3 day rental from Avis.  410 km from Wroclaw to Bratislava, a little over 300 km from Bratislava to Prague.

Online LAman

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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #34 on: December 08, 2018, 12:30:22 PM »
Yep, a Fiat Tipo.  About $100 US for a 3 day rental from Avis.  410 km from Wroclaw to Bratislava, a little over 300 km from Bratislava to Prague.

Getting your money's worth!!!  ))
Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift

Online msmob

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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #35 on: December 08, 2018, 12:35:43 PM »
Yep, a Fiat Tipo.  About $100 US for a 3 day rental from Avis.  410 km from Wroclaw to Bratislava, a little over 300 km from Bratislava to Prague.


?? That's a lot .. one can hire a car that size VW GOLF-  from - say Wroclaw airport for $49 for three days (rentalcars.com)  incl CDW


« Last Edit: December 08, 2018, 12:38:20 PM by msmob »

Online SteveInBoston

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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #36 on: December 08, 2018, 02:15:35 PM »
I tried using that once - rentalcars.com. Unfortunately after you enter specific details - day/time of pickup, US driver's license, etc, that $49 deal suddenly becomes $179 at checkout after all fees.

Offline JayH

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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #37 on: December 08, 2018, 05:05:48 PM »
Steve -the price you are paying is typical of what should be expected .
Once insurance is included it is about what I would expect in eastern EU.
SLAVA UKRAYINI  ! HEROYAM SLAVA!!!!
Слава Украине! Слава героям слава!Слава Україні! Слава героям!
 translated as: Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!!!  is a Ukrainian greeting slogan being used now all over Ukraine to signify support for a free independent Ukraine

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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #38 on: December 09, 2018, 05:52:13 AM »
I tried using that once - rentalcars.com. Unfortunately after you enter specific details - day/time of pickup, US driver's license, etc, that $49 deal suddenly becomes $179 at checkout after all fees.

JayH

CDW is ALREADY included and I have an annual excess policy for car hire to cover EU nations - cost 45


Online SteveInBoston

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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #39 on: December 15, 2018, 12:22:01 PM »
We are back in Ukraine now, after our short getaway.

An unusual thing happened at passport control - the guard asked to see my flight ticket/receipt.  Fortunately I had the Wizz Air app on the phone and was able to show him the e-ticket.

Also, my data plan ran out on vodaphone.  I had a bunch of text from vodaphone, all in Ukrainian.   T said that they automatically switched me to a pay-as-you-go day plan, at 5 UAH a day for voice, 7 UAH per day per 200 MB of data, and 1.5 UAH per 50 SMS messages.  T said they are very clever (the mobile company):  they will switch you to more expensive plans if you don't pay attention.  She used her Privatbank app to pay for another 4 weeks of unlimited data for 115 UAH, and switched me back to that plan by calling a special code (*101* number).


After a couple of days in Kharkiv we went back to Mariupol, partly to get T's things for a longer stay in Kharkiv (4 weeks), and partly to meet her parents.  They needed to drive from Donetsk to Volonovaha to collect their pension checks.  We left at 6:30 AM and arrived at 2 PM (400 km drive).  Her parents left at 7 AM and arrived at 5 PM (120 km drive).  That was without waiting for their pensions - the border checkpoints took too long to pass and the pension office was about to close. 

I met T's mom in Kiev in November, this time I met her dad.  We went to a nice restaurant a few blocks from T's apartment, and had a great time.  Her mom brought a bottle of homemade vodka, and we got her a bottle of her favorite drink - Bailey's Irish Creme.  Her dad doesn't drink so we got him a nice tin of chocolate coated holiday cookies.

The next morning we all got up early - T made breakfast, and her parents packed and left to get to the pension office and then get back to Donetsk before dark.  They made it home at 5:30 PM. 


Next time I think about complaining about the long lines at the DMV (RMV in Massachusetts) or other government office, I'm going to remember what T's parents have to go through just to collect their pension.




Online SteveInBoston

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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #40 on: December 15, 2018, 12:29:05 PM »
My sister texted me, saying she collected my mail and saw a letter from Homeland Security.  I asked her to open it - our K1 Visa application is approved!   :clapping: :clapping: :clapping:

Now we need to wait for the package to be sent from USCIS to NVC, and then for the NVC to assign a case number an send the package to the embassy in Kyiv.

Hopefully I will be able to help T with her application and get the interview scheduled before I leave on January 13.  It will all depend on the NVC processing the package in 2 weeks instead of 4...

 :D



Offline JayH

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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #41 on: December 15, 2018, 01:37:32 PM »
Congrats  Steve.
I do applaud your longer stay and time together. For me -- it is a necessary time of getting to know better-- and better!!
I have written often that the what I call 'normalising" as much as possible the relationship is what gives you the chance of making a long term partnership survive.
That is by way of contrast of a few days or a week or so-- particularly if out of normal environment eg holiday destination etc .

BTW --I noted your comment on her doing the driving and telling you to leave her to it -- she is 110% correct -- picking your way to the best path on the roads IS THE ONLY WAY to handle it.When driving you can have only a split second to avoid a disaster and having too much preconceived ideas is not good.
That said -- the chaos of being a passenger is not easy either -- as passenger needs to focus as if driving too!! ;D

A BTW -- generally speaking -at the start of winter the roads  tend to be at their best for the year after 6 months of repairing--  at the end of winter and early spring -- what may have been an ok road turns into a minefield !
« Last Edit: December 15, 2018, 01:41:03 PM by JayH »
SLAVA UKRAYINI  ! HEROYAM SLAVA!!!!
Слава Украине! Слава героям слава!Слава Україні! Слава героям!
 translated as: Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!!!  is a Ukrainian greeting slogan being used now all over Ukraine to signify support for a free independent Ukraine

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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #42 on: December 15, 2018, 11:57:25 PM »
My sister texted me, saying she collected my mail and saw a letter from Homeland Security.  I asked her to open it - our K1 Visa application is approved!   :clapping: :clapping: :clapping:

Now we need to wait for the package to be sent from USCIS to NVC, and then for the NVC to assign a case number an send the package to the embassy in Kyiv.

Hopefully I will be able to help T with her application and get the interview scheduled before I leave on January 13.  It will all depend on the NVC processing the package in 2 weeks instead of 4...

 :D


You do know that all offices are closed in Ukraine from January 1 till January 9?
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Offline Boethius

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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #43 on: December 16, 2018, 12:46:24 AM »
Id hazard a guess the US embassy is not closed that entire period, probably New Years and Orthodox Christmas. The embassy should have all holiday closure days listed.

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Online SteveInBoston

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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #44 on: January 05, 2019, 08:05:54 AM »
Hi guys, this is my final update for this trip report.  In a few days we are going to Kyiv to spend a few days before I fly back to the States on Jan 13.

Actually, this might be my last days in Ukraine.  At least for this year, explanation to follow.

We returned to Kharkiv on Dec 13. We set up house here at a 1 bedroom apartment within 1km of the main square, where they set up a huge christmas tree (I will attach photos at the end).

We thought about setting up a christmas tree, and went to Metro to look at what they had - not good.  Cheap trees, but they looked cheap.  We stocked up on supplies, including beer and one of each alcohol (tequila, scotch, rum, vodka, brandy, Baileys, but no gin [I hate gin]), a few bottles of wine (including a 5 liter box of cheap wine for glintvein), a 6 bottle case of prosecco, a some beer. 

Then we went to a funiture store I saw on google maps to get a small desk for me to use for work.  They had a basic desk on display, the only one available, for about $20 - perfect!  As I was waiting for them to disassemble the desk to 2 pieces for us to fit in the car, T saw they also had a tree for sale.  Again the one on display was the only one they had - a nice fake one for around $60.  We liked it so we had them wrap it up in plastic wrap for us to take on the spot.

The next day we headed to Epicenter to get ornaments.   I thought it would be simple - decide on a few colors, pick the shinny balls and tinsel and a few pretty pieces, and head back home.  After 2 hours, we walked away with 3 decorative balls, 1 gold and 2 white.  It took the next three days for T to make up her mind about the color pattern and design.  Then it took another few days for us to go back to 2 different Epicenters, a specialty shop at Rost, and to Lily Decore to select the specific pieces T wanted.  Oh, and also a gift wrapping kiosk for T to get the ribbons she wanted for the tree (instead of tinsel).  And then a week of T fiddling with the tree:  adding ornaments, re-arranging them, taking them off, putting them back on, going to the store for a few more pieces, and finally getting it to exactly as she wanted it.

If any of you have counted the days... Yes, the tree was not ready until Dec 30.

On the 23rd we went to Kharkiv train station to pick up Randy, T's youngest nephew (no, Randy is not his real name).  He came to spend the holidays with us.  The next day Ralphie (not real name) arrived in Kharkiv (T's oldest nephew).  Ralphie came with the school football team, to play a holiday tournament at the western outskirts of Kharkiv - Industrial'nyi district.  Christmas morning, we drove out to rescue Ralphie - their game was cancelled due to heavy snow and he was soaking wet and cold (temp was +1 - snow melt).  Ralphie spent the rest of the days with us, with T acting as a soccer mom driving him back and forth to the pitch.  Their last game was on Dec 29.

On the 30th T's sister and her husband arrived by car from Kharkiv.  I arranged another apartment for them, about 800 meters up Nauky avenue.  They spent New Years with us, with the ladies preparing a feast and me making a prime rib roast ($16 for a 3.4 kg 6 bone roast - awesome!!!)  New Years eve dinner wasn't until 10:30 PM, way later than what I was used to.  After dinner we watched the president's address on TV.   There was a bit of a scandal because T's favorite channel, 1+1, did not air the president's speech.  Instead, one of the main actors on that channel announced his candidacy for the next election (and he is 2nd currently in the polls, just behind Julia). 

Afterwards we headed out to the main square, at about 1:30 AM.  Most of the crowd was gone, but the band was still playing ("put your hands up!" - "put your hands up!" - "how much is the fish?!" - "how much is the fish?!").  We went to the main tree, took some photos with Ralphie acting all nonchalant (he's 16).  We walked back, had a few more cocktails, and then they went back to their apartment.  T and I wanted to ring in the new year, um, properly, but Ralphie was too tired to walk and stayed over.

The next morning T's sister and husband stopped by to give us the keys to turn in to the apartment owner.  After New Years breakfast, they took off to visit his aunt in Poltava.  The boys stayed with us - we will take them back to Kyiv next week. 

After a few days, we stuffed a handful of bills in their hands and told them to go to a nearby restaurant for dinner, and was finally able to ring in the new year.  :D


Well, that is about it.  I might add a post or two to summarize the travel related things - ATMs, Restaurants, Hotels, Transportation, etc.


Happy New Year everyone, and Merry Christmas!!!


P.S.  One little update:

Our K1 Visa application was approved last month, and NVC has assigned a case number on Dec 26.  It's not been confirmed, but I'm 90% sure it will be sent to the Embassy on Jan 8.  T filled out Visa form DS-160, paid the fee, and has scheduled the interview for Jan 28.  Her medical is next week in Kyiv, and the police report is ready to pick up in Mariupol.  We purchased a refundable ticket for her to fly to Boston on Feb 9.  Fingers crossed!!!
« Last Edit: January 05, 2019, 08:25:34 AM by SteveInBoston »

Online SteveInBoston

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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #45 on: January 05, 2019, 08:24:08 AM »
Photos:


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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #46 on: January 05, 2019, 11:24:23 AM »
Happy New Year, Steve.  I hope the K1 goes smoothly.


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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #47 on: January 05, 2019, 02:48:09 PM »
Happy New Year and a Merry Christmas to Steve and his lady & family ! :)

What a contrast this story makes to some other posters here -- going and spending time on the ground ( quite a lot of time by comparison) and getting  real insight  can only help in the future life with your lady. I know Steve is smart enough to understand that-- but my observation is intended for those on a learning curve.

Recently had the Christmas tree discussion -- quite surprising high cost of a real tree -- especially in an area with a lot of  what looks like to me a lot of suitable trees growing!

& Steve -- how do you think the Trenchcoat comments fit with what you see at Epicentre?  ;D
SLAVA UKRAYINI  ! HEROYAM SLAVA!!!!
Слава Украине! Слава героям слава!Слава Україні! Слава героям!
 translated as: Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!!!  is a Ukrainian greeting slogan being used now all over Ukraine to signify support for a free independent Ukraine

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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #48 on: January 05, 2019, 03:03:30 PM »
& Steve -- how do you think the Trenchcoat comments fit with what you see at Epicentre?  ;D

Well, there are a LOT of TC comments.  Are you referring to the thread of living in Ukraine for 500 GBP per month?

That was just stupid from the beginning.  Plenty of shoppers at Epicenter.  For those who are curious, Epicenter is a combination Home Appliance, TV, Small electronics, kitchen, bath and bedroom store combined with a home building contract store (wood, concrete, sinks, doors, showers, lighting, tools, electrical, mechanical, etc.).  There are 3 in Kharkiv that I know of - one to the north, one in the south past the airport, and one near the large mall - Dafi -  to the northeast.

The Christmas decoration section was pretty much sold out by New Years.   Oddly enough, I noticed people tend to use credit/debit cards for small purchases, and cash for large things like TVs and appliances.


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Re: My last night in good old USA, Ukraine here I come!
« Reply #49 on: January 05, 2019, 03:19:50 PM »
Steve --I was referencing his comments about  the "poor"  etc
The store is massive  US size -- 20+  registers with never ending ques  etc
It is in sharp contrast to the nonsense TC keeps offering .

I am in no doubt that many people are on the breadline or worse -- but many are not--  something I can also say about what are much more affluent countries.Ukraine is a country in transition.
SLAVA UKRAYINI  ! HEROYAM SLAVA!!!!
Слава Украине! Слава героям слава!Слава Україні! Слава героям!
 translated as: Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!!!  is a Ukrainian greeting slogan being used now all over Ukraine to signify support for a free independent Ukraine

 

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