Here's one last "rewind" to tell about our trip to Kiev. First, of course, there was the overnight train trip. I wasn't sure that we'd survive it! I've been on some hot trains, but I think that was about the hottest ever. However, after a while, something strange happened: air conditioning! That was definitely a "we're not in Kansas [Russia] anymore" moment." It helped some, but it was still too hot to sleep. We'd just start getting cooled off, and then the train--and the AC--would stop and sit at a station. WIll says that the contrast made it more miserable than the usual, but I say that coolish and HOT is better than hot and hotter.
(Jaan's face. . . !)
We did survive the train trip, and we arrived in Kiev. We put our luggage in storage at the train station, and headed straight to the zoo, to celebrate Raia's birthday a few days early. It wasn't open yet, but we took a few pictures on the statues outside.
The big (almost) four-year-old
While we waited for the zoo to open, we crossed the road to a wonderful, green park area in front of the University of Technology (or something like that). We saw a squirrel right away! It seemed like the park was full of them! And then we saw a young couple walk by, knocking walnuts together. Stephen and I exchanged looks and laughed: what on earth are they doing? Do they really think the squirrels will respond to that? But they do! A few minutes later a middle aged woman walked by doing the same thing, and. . . .
Then it was time for the zoo to open! As we walked back over there, we heard the clock strike with a noise like a rooster. I loved what Jaan said, eyes wide, "That's to wake the animals up!" The Kiev Zoo is very big and very nice! I'm afraid that we adults were a little too tired to really enjoy it, but that didn't seem to slow our children down. The petting zoo was a big favorite for them, once they got over the panic of being swarmed by goats and massive pigs. Stephen found the pigs a little too gross, I think, and he ended up watching that adventure from outside the fence. Raia's absolute favorite was the gorilla, and I found it rather fascinating, too. (Although, the primate cages were rather depressing. They were like the Soviet apartment buildings of the zoo world. As I understood they're building a whole new area for them, though.) Jaan loved the monkeys. He would have spent the whole day hanging in front of one of those cages. He hung in front of one until Will moved him on, and then he hung there for the rest of the time that we were in that area. I don't think Jaan ever even made it to the end of the row of monkeys. And now for zoo pictures:
I'm getting a little frustrated with posting photos here. Follow this link to see the rest. We went back over to feed the squirrels after the zoo, and those photos are over there, too. I hope Stephen will put his online somewhere soon!
Oh, I said this is the last of my posts reviewing our recent busy times. I was wrong; I still have to tell you about our day walking around the center of Kiev and Raia's actual birthday.
(Be sure to go down and read my "Peas and bees" post.)