Good morning everyone,
This will be the last email from this address.
Yesterday was a busy day sightseeing in Kiev, and we got to see some amazing historical sights, some huge buildings built by the Russians during their "reign" over Ukraine, a couple of Ukrainian Orthodox cathedrals with gold domes. We saw inside one of the cathedrals but were not allowed to take pictures. The gold inlay and painted portraits completely covered the roof and walls in what is one of the biggest churches we have ever seen. One of them has only been reconstructed in the last couple of years, because Stalin tore down the original to make room for a building of his own to show his authority.
In the centre of the city we visited catacombs (caves) built way underground by a Ukrainian Orthodox monastery in about 1026. The ladies had to cover our heads and carry a small candle as we went through the passages - not for the claustrophobic. There are men (designated as saints for some special deed they did) buried in glass caskets down there. The bodies were completely covered in robes, but the odd black mummified hand stuck out of some. Quite spooky, actually. Ed says we only saw a small portion of the catacombs. Apparently there is a section where monks still live and pray, not coming out for the rest of their lives. Their food is delivered, but they don't even see who delivers it. Not my idea of a good time.
While we were sightseeing, Kate and Jennie went to the hairdresser's with Natasha, Ed's wife. Kate has bangs! Her haircut was very European. Jennie got her hair cut quite short and looked very beautiful as well.
We met for lunch at a cafe where we had the last meal of Ukranian food - borsch and perogies and crepes. Then we shopped for a while at the "market" - stalls all up and down the hill by the St. Andrew's Cathedral. Could have stayed a lot longer, but the men rushed us...
We had our last supper at the food court at the biggest mall in Kiev. They actually had a McDonalds and a Kentucky Fried Chicken place, although they didn't call it Kentucky Fried Chicken. A taste of home....Ed had taken our purchases home in a taxi and brought his daughter Regina back for supper with us. His little daughter Amy most of us didn't get to see this time.
We were up early (4 a.m.) - 9 last night your time, and headed for the Kiev airport for our 6 a.m. flight. We flew Ukraine International on a luxurious 737 - 400 passenger plane, not another Aeroflot plane (do you remember the one we thought was duct taped together?), a Russian A21, Dave Wright told me, for those of you interested..this flight was wonderful - the breakfast was good, there was room for our legs, and our carryons fit in the overhead compartments.
We have now safely landed at Amsterdam airport and have a 5 hour stopover before heading across the Atlantic.
Marilyn has Bill's relatives in Amsterdam, so she and Jennie have gone to spend a couple of hours with them. The rest of us are using the internet cafe and shopping.
We are all anxious to be home now, to see all our loved ones and to sleep in our own beds. It will be a long day as we get into Toronto airport at 4 p.m. By the time we get through customs and drive home from there, it will be between 6 and 7, so we will be up almost 24 hours.
Hope to see my kids at school tomorrow with lots of pictures, and souvenirs to show them. Kate is coming with me, so she can fill in any details that I might forget.
See you soon,
Love to you all,
Shirley, Kate, Glenna, Marilyn & Jennie