Wednesday, April 07, 2010


We've been back for a week. On the one hand it seems so much longer than that, but on the other we're still dragging and tired, and some are sick. I've woken up to nightmares about trains the past two mornings! (And I didn't really think the train parts of the trip were bad. . . just long.)

Anyway, we did have a good trip. Thank you so much for praying for us! We got new visas without any problems. Karen and her family made it feel like a visit to old friends, instead of a visa trip, even through we were just meeting them for the first time. Poland is a very beautiful country to watch as it goes by train windows, and Krakow is amazing.

So, what should I tell you about our trip? I already told you our travel plans, and everything went pretty much as planned. Here's a little journal of the highlights of the trip, interspersed with photos where they fit in.

Monday, March 22: Train from Zaporozhya to Kiev.

Tuesday, March 23: We arrived in Kiev in the early morning.

After getting breakfast, we asked around to find out which direction to walk to get to the center. Everyone looked at our children and said that it was too far, we'd never make it. Still, we started off in the direction they said. When we got close to the center, we found a playground and stopped there. There were at least three different English-speaking families there! Then we walked back to the train station and took naps.

After nap time, we walked to the center again. Impossible? Our children did it twice in one day! Then back to the train station and on to our train to Krakow.

Wednesday, March 24: Polish trains are much nicer than Russian or Ukrainian trains! (The windows open!) We slept pretty well at night and really enjoyed the daytime travel.


They changed the wheels when we got to the border!

Nap time

Thursday, March 25 (Happy birthday to Shannon and Mrs. L!): The Ukrainian consulate was closed, so we couldn't do anything with our visas. Instead, we had a walking tour of Krakow, led by Karen. We started with feeding the beautiful swans.

Did you know that swans snort like pigs?

Then a big highlight for the children: The Dragon below Wawel Castle! Unfortunately, his cave was still closed for the winter season, but they thoroughly enjoyed the statue outside.

Jaan and Raia with Clarissa and Kasia (spelling?), our new friends

Running in terror as the dragon breathes its fire
(Hmm. I learned something new at that link. A man selling souvenirs said that the fire is every 4 minutes, but then it also seemed to go at random times. From text messages?)

Jaan and Clarissa climbing near the dragon
We waited by the dragon for Anna (Will's sister) to join us. Once Anna found us, we went on up into the castle. We didn't go inside any of the museums. The grounds were beautiful: crocuses! And a butterfly! And lots to explore!

With Karen in the courtyard of Wawel Castle

A Russian-speaking knight
From there we headed on down from the castle and into the main square to hear the trumpeter and eat lunch.

"He won't eat you, if you put money in his bucket." (Anna's picture)
If you asked Jaan what he saw in Krakow, he'd probably tell you about the dragon first, then about this second. Around the main square there are street artists, painted like statues, who sit perfectly still most of the time. Jaan approached this one, and thoroughly convinced himself that it was a statue. . . and then it jumped at him! Oh, how he screamed! Anna finally talked him into going back and putting money in the bucket for this photo. By then he and Raia had cooked up a whole story about this scary wizard who eats children (and dogs). Poor Asya was asleep, but she woke up while we were still standing there. She opened her eyes to see this, and hear Jaan and Raia tell her what I quoted above.

Friday, March 26: Will and Jaan spent most of the day at the consulate and ended up with our visas (in just one day!). The girls and I stayed back in our rented room and rested. In the evening we took another short walk.

Feeding the pigeons on the main square
See the colorful things behind them? Those are traditional Polish Easter palms. They were on sale everywhere and Sunday morning we saw people taking them to church to be blessed.

Saturday, March 27: We walked from where we were staying along the river path all morning. We ended up at a park by a dam, where there were more swans. After playing there and watching those swans, we took a tram back to the center and our room.

Sunday, March 29: We really enjoyed going to church with the Glasses. Everyone was so friendly, and tried so hard to communicate with us. They're going through Firm Foundations. With the handouts and lots of linguistic guesswork, we could follow along pretty well.

Jaan, Raia and Clarissa had a Sunday school lesson about Palm Sunday.

At the Glasses'* home after church
(*How are you supposed to punctuate that?) I'll just say again that they were so kind to us! Meeting us at the train station, driving us around, feeding us, showing us the sights.... After church, we had another great meal with them. Then Asya napped, while Jaan and Raia and Clarissa played wildly and we adults talked. Soon it was time to go back for the evening service. We enjoyed that, too, but I felt like I didn't understand quite so much.

Monday, March 29: Even though we had gotten our visas on Friday, we had to wait until Monday for them to start. Monday came, and we boarded a train back to Kiev. Again, we really enjoyed the Polish countryside. I've never seen so many deer before! And we also saw storks and pheasants.

For some reason, I just loved the windmills.

They're changing the wheels again out there!

Oops. On first writing, I missed a day.
Tuesday, March 30: Another day in Kiev.

Wednesday, March 31:

Early morning, when the last train pulled into Zaporozhya

I have skipped over so much of a very full week! I'll post the rest of our hundreds of pictures, just as a photo album and add a link to that here. Also, Anna has put a lot of hers on Facebook; maybe I'll get the address for that....

Edited to add:
Our many, many photos are here.
And Anna's are here.


Silvia said...

I love to read about your life and travels.

Silvia said...

I got a bit carried, thanks for your post, though, it is very thorough in itself :-)
Between you, Heather and more people in other forums, I'm getting ready to post again about it and not just for math, but for other subjects, but I have a lot about math with all you and others contributed.

Baba Julie said...

Hi, Phyllis! Wonderful update! But, I have a question:(Okay, two questions(:) Who is Karen? How do you know her? She and her family were certainly nice to you all! And, where did you stay? Looks like it was a fabulous, if tiring, trip! Love y'all!

MissElaineous said...

It sounds like it was a tiring trip, but it's nice you had a change of scenery and a chance to see new places.

Phyllis said...

2 quick answers:
-I "knew" Karen through the internet. Now she and her family are our REAL friends. :-)
-There is a link to where we stayed over in the sidebar.