Thursday, November 12, 2009

Feet on the Ground in Kyiv!

I arrived from Newark through Frankfurt into Kyiv with nary a hitch, nary a query about my one-way ticket with no checked luggage, and nary a mention of the H1N1 flu...just a slight delay due to fog. There's a reassuring sense that the world must be a safer place.

And I'm here. The planning phase of this winter pilgrimage is a thing of the past and I've begun execution. A pair of Jehovah's Witnesses welcomed me moments after I stepped out of the airport taxi and into the square in front of St Sophia's Cathedral. They didn't linger long after I said in Ukrainian 'ya ay polomnitza' except to say that they had never met an American pilgrim before. Alas, they were interested in the Kingdom of God and not about St Andrew's wanderings through first-century Ukraine. To each, his own.

For my days in Kyiv, I've opted to try couchsurfing for accommodation. There are many monasteries and convents I could have pursued for pilgrim lodgings, but my experience cautions me about the reasonable, yet inevitable, curfews and the disruption I might cause coming and going several times a day. Hotels here in the city are pricey and impersonal. Youth hostels I find unsuitable for my needs. The philosophy of couchsurfing has increasing appeal for pilgrim life. Through the website (, I've met Trevor, an Austrailian English teacher with a guest room in his city-center apartment. He's one of nearly 1,000 'couches' listed in Kyiv. Comparing the website and my sketched-out route, I hope to be able to couchsurf maybe once a week or so all the way to Greece.

The philosophy is straight-forward, people who have a spare bed at home offer it to travelers who are passing through. It's like having friends of friends all around the world. References and recommendations are posted on the website. It's fabulous. Trevor knows a bit about the city, has some guide books and maps, some insight about details of where I might find things I need, is a splendid conversationalist, offered me the use of his computer to enter this post, is a ready companion for the symphony for opera tonight, and we have a common language. Couchsurfing is a superior alternative to other pilgrim accommodation options. Anyone out there with a spare bed and an interest in meeting genuine people just passing through, please consider this wonderfully 'green' opportunity to engage with the world body.


Ukiefriend said...

Hurrah! Glad you are happy, comfortable and have befriended a hospitable fellow. K told me you are meeting with her brother tomorrow. Everything works out....thanks for posting!

Sil said...

Can't wait to read about your journey Ann! Go safely.

Ukiefriend said...

One more thing! Wanted to tell you that your watercolors are amazing...was looking at them again on the blog. Can't wait to see what else you will be depicting soon--Pecherska Lavra?! How in the world will you survive without the Ukrainian Language Group of Denver? We miss your delightful presence and contagious smile. We have a meet up in Boulder next week and looks like at least 10 members will be feasting at the Baker Street Pub. Have a couple scientists flying in from Lviv--we're getting to be international! 3 of our members are in Ukraine and 2 are visiting here, by plane, of course, and we might go salsa dancing! We're gonna have an Andrijvskyj Vechir around Dec. 12th (Hanukah!). I even wrote to my only friend in Siberia about you--his name is Andrij, that's why. Доброї дороги паломгиця!

ukieartist said...

Yes, couch-surfing and lodging seems to be the newest in traveling accomodations. Glad u know about it and that Ukes have caught on to the trend.
Happy and safe travels!