Family Time Chernivtsi, Ukraine Feb 23- Mar3
Feb 23, 2010
Arrived safe and sound in Chernivtsi, to a warm welcoming committee, Auntie Maria and my 6yr old cousin Diana. How kind, they brought me a bouquet of carnations, I have only met Auntie Maria twice when she visited Canada several years ago, she absolutely looks great and Diana is wonderful.
We headed to Kitsman, the village close to where Auntie and Uncle live. It is a quaint village, bustling with school kids and elderly people visiting the markets and corner stores, a nice place. Auntie's house is nice, very traditional Ukraine decoration, the main house has 5 rooms, 3 bedrooms and 2 sitting rooms. The other building which is one long building houses the kitchen with bathroom, a garage, a pig pen, storage area and stairs leading down to a cellar where all the veggies and canned good are stored. Auntie Maria, Uncle Dennis, Diana, her brother Dennis and their father Oleg all live in the house.
Had a great lunch, nap and then dinner and bed, do you see a pattern starting.......wait for it, you will!!!!
Caught the bus into Kitsman. We went to the music school of Volodymyr Ivasyuk, he was a popular singer born in Kitsman,(Auntie Maria went to school with him). He was born in 1949 and apparently committed suicide at age 30 yrs.
We walked down the streets watching all of the people move along their day, and we went into several little shops. I love how you go to one store for cheese, another for meat and yet another for bread, it is a very social aspect of life....Being here has however made me miss my Baba alot. I know however she would be very proud and happy that I am in the Ukraine visiting family, love you Baba.
Back on the bus, barely, okay so the bus holds maybe 25 people, seriously they squish 45-50 people on it, you better know where you get off otherwise you are walking.....yikes it was worse than sardines in a can....
Back at the house Diana told me having me here was like having her Mama here, broke my heart and made me miss the kids even more than I already did.( so the story goes: My cousin Halia(Diana's mom) came to Canada to make a better life for her family(some 2.5 yrs ago), her husband Oleg and Diana and her son Dennis still remain in Ukraine til paperwork goes through.
Always a great meal on the table several times a day, Uncle Dennis and I share a shot of Vodka, okay maybe 2 before each meal, excluding breakie....see the pattern?
Stayed around home, went to the neighbor lady's house, Auntie wanted me to pick out a cross stitch picture as a gift.....food food and yes more food......Auntie and I made prune buns fried and baked, yummy......
Ivan our driver picked us up early and off to Chotin Castle, Auntie, Diana and I went. It is a very old, but relatively intact castle, it was very cool, and the views are spectacular, it sits next to a river.
Off to another castle and then to a Money Museum and torture dungeon that still houses torture , very eerie and creepy, not an inviting place to be, in fact Diana refused to come with us.... don't blame her.
Soon after we headed back towards Chotin and parked on the side of the road where we waited for Diana's other Baba. Off to Baba's for lunch, OMG it was delicious, she made a potato, mushroom and gizzard cream soup, cheese, olives, sausage and bread....yummy. Oh ya and now it gets interesting. Before each we have a shot of Vodka, tradition, except for today, Auntie and Baba had a shot and decided they had enough, but Gedo, the sly man challenged me, yes he did and I could not let a 65+ year old man do me in, so within 45 mins we finished off the 26 oz bottle. Gedo wanted to open another, but Baba said no, geesh, okay so I was a little pissed and very relaxed, oh well have to keep up with tradition...heheheheheh ugh! Good night!!!!ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Stayed home today, Diana performed several of her favorite songs and dances for me. She is so cute and funny. Auntie made donuts and pork buns, pants are tighter,,,,,,yikes. While travelling in Turkey I caught a nasty cold which was lingering, so Auntie called Doctor John over to check me out. He was so funny, said in very broken English/Ukrainian, that I didn't have a fever, pneumonia or TB, thank goodness for that, gave me drugs of unknown origin and told me to rest. Oh ya he also told me to steam, but apparently I missed the part that I was to steam with potato water, seriously, well I guess we kill 2 birds with 1 stone, I steam and dinner gets made...hahahahaha
Taxi ride to Chernivtsi and off to tour the University. It is an amazing display of architecture and design, so beautiful and old. The cathedral, so stunning. During the tour we came upon a display board "Canada - First Ukrainian Settlers", showcasing Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Vegreville, really cool...From the university we headed to a Museum and to the Theatre of Music and Drama to see a children's play, it was cute and strange at the same time...We made our way down many of the quaint streets, old buildings with uptown businesses in them.
Back home, food food and more food, the pattern is developing........wait for it.
Home day, quick trip into Kitsman for a few groceries and a stop at the bazaar. And of course food, food and more food........bet you see the pattern now, eh?
Off to Chernivtsi, made a stop at the Orthodox Church, very nice and peaceful. We walked down Main Street to the Main Square, from there we caught the bus to the Open Air Museum. It was really cool, completely outdoors, it consists of old wooden windmills, old houses with the interiors set up as they would have been in years past, tiny rooms with beds, tables, chairs, and stove. There were many buildings including a main one that displayed clothes, pottery, plates and other items form years past. We headed to the Church which was amazing. The interior of the church still maintains its natural characteristics and beauty. I am grateful to the individuals who help preserve the past to present it to the future.
Did someone say shopping???? Off to one of the largest, craziest bazaars I have ever seen. It never ends, tarp and more tarps. You can buy anything from food, to household supplies to clothing, just nuts. I bought a Ukrainian embroidered table runner, very traditional.
Last day at Auntie's, packed and hanging out with Uncle and Diana. Diana is reading to me in Ukrainian as I make entries in my diary. She hasn't left my side the entire time I have been here, going to miss her dearly.
Food, food and last of the homemade food.......ugh!!!!
Had a wonderful stay at Auntie and Uncles. Spent a bit of time with Uncle Dennis, but mostly drinking and eating, as well as watching TV. Also spent a bit of time with Oleg, he was very excited to tell me that they watched the Canada vs USA Hockey Olympic game and that he was so happy Canada won.....It was funny because we were using Google Translate, and it translated "we watched the game at work" as being " got hurt at work" so watch out if you translate, it may just get lost!!!! hahhhaa.
Will miss everyone dearly and hope to get back one day soon.
Loaded up the car and off to the train station. 8pm night train to Lvov (12hrs). It was a very sad goodbye, and as we parted ways I told Oleg that I was sure the next time we met would be in Canada, fingers crossed.......Choo Choo whoot whoot off I go