It’s been about a week that we’ve been officially in Ukraine, and we can’t believe how fast the time passed! Throughout this time, we have just been trying to process our emotions about all of this, since it happened so quickly, and have started to explore around our neighborhood, which has been fun. The Venice Hotel is in an area that has the grocery store Novus right across the street, which is very convenient, and that is where we entered our first Ukrainian grocery store. We would say the equivalent of it is like the local Star/Kroger, but the produce leaves much to be desired. The liquor/wine/beer section is the first thing on your left when you enter, and there was SUCH a huge variety of libations and spirits. I had read before from other blogs that vodka is very popular here, like most former USSR countries, and they weren’t kidding; K had me take a picture of the “water” aisle, as we liked to joke around, and look how tiny he is in the picture and all of that vodka! You can purchase a liter for around $1.50ish, although I can’t attest to the quality or flavor since I haven’t tried any. Try at your own risk! Can’t be worse than the Popov’s I used to drink back in college, which although it claims it was filtered in charcoal, it tasted pretty much like rubbing alcohol, haha.
If you weren’t aware, the US dollar is equal to about 26 Ukrainian Hryvnia, which means that everything is SUPER cheap compared to the US. You can live like a king and buy so much stuff, and it’ll come out to about 5 bucks. Since we have food from our stay at Venice, we just try little things here and there. I bought some berries that I used to LOVE eating when I was growing up in Germany, and they were about a dollar for two pounds. Crazy!
K has been having a blast trying all of the various Ukrainian beers, which tend to be mostly of the Bavarian sort. But they also had foreign brands like Coronas and Sam Adams and the like. One of the strangest beers that he bought was hilarious, as it was Trump beer! But not like Trump Winery, but a beer that specifically mocks Trump, which includes for some bizarre reason a shot of Macaulay Culkin from Home Alone, “Free Melania” protester, a Trump Tower, and Putin wearing a Make America Great Again hat. We were cracking up! It describes its flavor as a Mexican Imperial Lager, but at this point, we think everything about this beer is just a joke. So far, at our hotel, we’ve been the token Americans, and many have asked about Trump, stating that they couldn’t keep their eyes off the TV during our last election, it was so close. I’ve been overseas many times before, and no one has ever asked me about my feelings about the current President, so this was an interesting experience. Behind the Trump beer, you can see all of the different kinds that K has been trying, and his best deal yet – a 2.5ltr beer that is the equivalent of Natty Ice in the US. All for 22UAH, or 84 cents!
Anywho, the pricing is, for the most part, incredibly cheap, as you can see below. However, some things, such as an Apple iPhone, is still the same price as back home. I asked how that worked since the average income of a person in Ukraine is $200 a month – how would anyone be able to afford that? Someone explained that they usually make a monthly payment plan to pay off the phone in increments. We’ve noticed that most people have Samsung products, which seems really popular.
If you hop across the street again (cross at your own risk!), the brand new Lavina Mall has opened, and although a lot of the mall is still in progress, they have some cute places to eat, many of the stuff that you would expect in an American mall. You’ll recognize some of the name brands like Benetton, Lacoste, and Zara (not open yet).
They also have a movie theater that plays a lot of the same movies out in the US, but they have Ukrainian dubbing, so we probably won’t be going there anytime soon. It was funny because they had Cars 3 posters, which for some reason, is called Wheelbarrow 3 here?!
We were most surprised to see that they even have a Pizza King, just like the one in Indiana, which totally threw us off guard! The stall at the mall had a long line around it compared to the others, so we’re guessing it’s pretty popular. One time as we were leaving the mall, we saw a Pizza King delivery dude, who was wearing what looked similar to a racing uniform that was branded with the Pizza King logo, with a matching red moped to boot! We will be ordering delivery at some point, just to satisfy our curiosity, so stay tuned. It is available 24/7, and they have combos that include that 2.5ltr of beer that K had. I was looking at the menu, and they have two options of sauces – creamy and specialty sauce, but the picture of both pizzas look exactly the same, so we’re not quite sure what’s happening there. There were a couple of bizarre topping choices, such as mustard or mini gherkins!
What’s even more nuts is that there is also a mini-amusement park for kids inside the mall, called Galaxy. It is pretty much like a carnival indoors! There are rollercoasters, play gyms, trampolines, the like. Very convenient for those parents who brought a child with them along the surrogacy trip, of which there are a few.
Inside the mall, there is another huge grocery store called Silpo, which is a very fancypants and has lots of cafes and sit down places for you to enjoy your coffee and sweets, or eat a meal. We think it’s pretty much the equivalent of Whole Foods, but the prices seem pretty similar, and everything is very fresh and of high quality. I’ve been wondering whether some of the produce and meat in Ukraine is organic, just because all of it looks a lot smaller than what I see in the grocery store, but GMO has taken over the world, so most likely not. Some shots below of Silpo – and great free Wifi, if you need a change of scenery from your Ukrainian abode.
Lastly, next to the Lavina Mall, is a huge warehouse shopping center that reminds me of a Costco – we just did a drive-by, but it seems like it will take ages just to go through the whole store! They also have a bunch of little stores next to the cash registers, one of which was a gun store that just had semi-automatics hanging on the shelf like lollipops. I’m guessing they have a lot less stricter gun rules here, if you can get your groceries for the week and pick up a shotgun in the same place.
Alrighty then, that’s it for the update about the neighborhood! I am gearing up for my IVF cycle which starts this Saturday, so going to make the most of the last couple days before I start with the injectibles. I’m curious to see what kind of protocol that they will put me on, and will be sure to update you shortly thereafter