Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007


Well, we took the plunge and started Zora on solid foods yesterday. She took to them surprisingly well. She was so thrilled I think she had been waiting for the opportunity to eat something other than milk.

Friday, September 14, 2007

A walk in the past

For my hubby's Jubilee birthday we took a trip back to his old stomping ground to see what the past had left. So we packed our bags, baby and camera and took off to the Ukraine to see what there was to be seen. As this was our first trip with a baby we decided not to be too ambitious and we only went to Kiev and Odessa. Unfortunately from Baku there are only local airlines going to other post-soviet spaces so we had to fly Azall to Kiev. Despite my misgivings, Azall wasn't too bad. The flight was reasonably on time, reasonably clean, the food was tolerable, and the staff was not openly hostile (which is more than I can say for a lot of US flights).
Kiev was much better than I expected it to be. I think I was expecting a larger Baku, meaning more depressing, square, soviet style buildings. I guess I forgot that Kiev had hundreds of years of history before the USSR and despite the general oppressiveness of the communists, they did not destroy everything that was there before. So what that means is that Kiev had a lot of really pretty European style buildings along it's main street, and beautiful wide tree lined roads. Commerce is definitely alive and well in Kiev as there are many shops and restaurants to choose from. One popular eating establishment, Mr. Snack a place that serves sandwiches and beer, was literally on every corner (if it had been Manhattan it would have rivaled the prevalence of Starbucks).
Weirdly enough, in Kiev as in Baku, people do not just get married on Saturdays. Apparently it's common to have a wedding any day of the week. So while we were there, and visiting some of the famous churches of Kiev, we were surrounded by brides and grooms taking their, apparently, standard wedding shots. We stopped to have water and give Zora a rest before going into St. Sophia and I think I counted 15 brides coming through to have their pictures taken in front of the old church.
After Kiev we flew to Odessa on a local Ukrainian airline. Now this flight was not so pleasant. In order to board the flight, you had to take a shuttle out to the tarmac. We arrived at the plane, but the cleaning crew was apparently not finished, so the bus is unloaded, and all of the passengers, flight attendants, and pilots were standing out on the tarmac in front of the stairs to the plane in the cold rain and wind. It was actually pretty amusing because the other passengers were getting really mad at the crew because another woman and I were standing around with our babies in the cold. I felt very special.
Anyway, Odessa is a very beautiful little town. Odessa and Baku are very similar to each other, they are about the same size, they are both on the sea, and they were both part of the Soviet Union. But the way they have used their post soviet space is very different. It looked to me like Odessa really saw that they had a pretty town and worked hard to make it prettier. All around town you could see the money people were putting into renovating. Parks were replanted, fountains refurbished, buildings repainted, etc. The walking street, was actually a walking street with restaurants lining the sidewalks and brightly lit shops. I think the street was shorter than the walking street in Baku, but it was much more pleasant to walk down. The seashore also looked very nice but it was unseasonably cold for the five days we were there and we could not spend my promised days at the beach.
All in all, it was a very nice trip and I'm glad to have gotten the chance to visit the old stomping ground of my hubby.