There’s usually at least one trip of any trip that I just don’t handle well. All of the exhaust, the little stresses, etc. suddenly hit me. That day was today.
I sent my alarm for 8am, after being up late trying to publish my blog post (internet problems). We didn’t have anywhere to be, but we were expecting to hear about Lyuda’s passport. I didn’t really want to answer a phone call half asleep.
After 10am, Oksana informed me that Lyuda’s passport wouldn’t be ready today. Maybe Wednesday. Not even maybe tomorrow, but maybe Wednesday. Ugh. None of us were pleased with this. My mom is ready to go home. Lyuda is ready to be an American. And I need to jump back into real life, before my inbox and laundry pile grows much more.
I decided to cheer us all up by going to get lunch at the Very Well Cafe. A good meal can make a big difference for a bad mood, right? Once again, we got a table at this busy restaurant without a problem. However, when I went to order, they were out of the delicious Pesto ravioli. Being a vegetarian in Ukraine is often difficult, and the menu options were limited. Potatoes it was.
We decided to walk up Institutka Street, and make our way towards Pecherska Lavra, to check out the caves. It has interesting architecture, and this walk takes us by the WWII memorial and the Holodomor memorial.
We finally reached Pecherska Lavra, and we all needed to buy scarves. Mine was the most expensive, at about $5, and Lyuda and my mom each found one for $3. Then we headed down to the caves. This is a popular place for Orthodox pilgrimages. There is no entrance fee for the caves. We did also pay about 35 cents for 3 candles to take down into the caves, which are only lit by small candles. Women are required to wear knee-length skirts in addition to the scarves, but they have little apron type of things that you can wear for free. The monks will yell at you if you don’t have one. If visiting, you should also be aware that certain passages are only open to pilgrims, not for just walking through. There are signs letting you know if it is exclusively for prayer. Also be aware that being so bundled up can be quite warm, and with the tight passages and many stairs, I’m not sure I’d recommend it for a hot day. This article has a picture taken inside the caves, although it was darker than that.
The cave passages are very tight— I think anyone over five and a half feet would need to duck, and I wouldn’t recommend it if you are wider than average. The caves are dark, one-way passages that you wide through to see bodies wrapped in ornate shrouds inside of coffins. The pilgrims kiss the glass of the coffins and/or the icons pictured.
This entire experience left chills up my spine— the tight passage, the dark space, wearing the scarf, and the tall, darkly dressed figures of the monks. I had to remind myself that for most this was a sacred place, not something intended to be scary.
I was glad that we went and had the unique experience of visiting this special place. At the same time, I was quite glad to leave, uncover my head and stretch my arms.
After this, we grabbed a quick ice cream cone (you must try the soft serve ice cream stands that are everywhere) and headed to the metro stop, the deepest in the world, Arsenalna. We wanted to go to a supermarket, but the nearest location wasn’t coming up on my phone. We decided to take the metro to a different location. We made it through the chaos of the metro, and went to the biggest grocery store I’ve found in the Kyiv city center (it’s near the Palats Sportu Metro stop, in the Gulliver mall basement).
Back at our apartment, we encounter lots of internet troubles. I think I fixed them now (I was too impatient to wait until tomorrow afternoon for the landlord to fix it), by following the wise tech advice of the IT Crowd, “have you tried turning it off and on again?”.
We ventured out once again for dinner, to Sushiya, a sushi/Japanese chain restaurant. Their fried rice is delicious! Lyuda read the place mat out loud, “Today is Sunshine Day”. I glanced over, “Today is Sushiya Day”. “Oh. Not Sunshine?” No, Sushiya. The name of the restaurant.