June 6-30, 2002
A funny thing happened on the way to Russia. We didn't get there. What has this got to do with Ukraine?
When we were still in Israel we decided to go to Ukraine and Russia. Beyond wanting to see these countries for themselves we wanted to visit so that Jan could practice Russian and so that Gerry could trace the his roots; his mother had been born in Ukraine and left at three years old. Our general idea was to work our way north, never being anywhere where it was too cold.
While in Bucharest we more or less easily got our visas to Ukraine. We had to visit the Ukrainian consultate twice and we had to pay a high price, as only rush visas were available, and we had to worry that they would turn us down, but we did get them and even had a day left over to see some of Bucharest.
In Bucharest and before we had heard about how expensive and difficult it can be to get Russian visas. We decided to put it off until Kiev because it often happens that getting a visa from a place of "special relationship" is decidedly easier. That was certainly the case in getting a visa for China from Hong Kong. But it wasn't so in Kiev. There we learned that all fees put together would be nearly $400 for the two of us. It didn't take very long to go from shock to decision: we would save our money for the moment and spend it on things of real value, like hotels, in Poland. If our time had not been limited we might have gone on to Russia, but we put it off to later.
We had a great time in Ukraine, spending about 3 1/2 weeks there. We wish it could have been much more and we'll try to go back. So far we have written about how we got there and our general impressions and about a particular instance of kindness. We hope we'll get details about Kiev, Lviv, Narodichi, and Gerry's roots..