I made it…. I’m in Ukraine! From the emergency row seating on the 9 hour flight, to my pick up at the airport, everything about my trip was smooth sailing! A little piece of traveller’s advice: Ask for emergency row seating, it’s like free first class!
Because my flight arrived so late, it was decided that I should spend my first night in Simferopol in a hotel so that I could rest and recover from the long trip. Special thanks to my supervisor Irina’s mom for coming to pick me up from the airport and taking me to my hotel! The next morning, my first full day in Ukraine, my supervisor -Irina Antonovskaya (the Monitoring and Evaluations Manager at the Ukraine Horticulture Development Project) came to pick me up and take me to my temporary apartment.
I don’t know what I would do here without Irina! I am so grateful for all of her help. She has shown me around town, taken me out for lunch and shown me some of her favorite places in Simferopol. She’s been my guide, showing me how to get around on foot and by bus, she has shown me where to buy food, clothes and most importantly she helped me find my apartment! If it weren’t for Irina I would have never have found this amazing place!
It is a huge one-bedroom apartment about a 10 minute walk (through a lovely river valley) from downtown. It has a large kitchen, bathroom, living room and balcony. It is fully furnished, and the land-lady even went the extra mile to find me pots and pans, dishes, bedding and towels! Check it out……
Simferopol is the capital of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea which is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea. The population of Simferopol is approximately 350,000 and is comprised of approximately 66.7% Russians, 21.3% Ukrainians, 7% Crimean Tartars, and 1.1% Belarussians…. And at least one Canadian! Russian is the predominant language spoken here and this is causing me some grief! Even though my Ukrainian skills are lacking, at least I have a much more solid base than I do in Russian. But languages are my passion so I accept the challenge! Although, I think when I leave here, I will probably speak a hybrid of the two… Ukrussian?
The city is quite nice. I really like the feel of it. It is somewhat European yet with a distinct Soviet feeling. I guess that must be a typical Eastern European city! Simferopol is very modern. I have had no problems finding everything I needed for my first few days. There are plenty of bank machines, a few large supermarkets, but mostly small corner stores, and stores specializing in one type of good… Ie) a bakery, a butcher, vegetable markets. I find myself having to visit various locales to get everything that I am looking for. Stay tuned!