Saturday, January 9, 2010

Ukraine - Hostel Booked

"Irony" has been the operative word this week here in sunny Atlanta, where temperatures plummeted into the teens (that's in degrees Fahrenheit) and two inches of snow and ice prevented most friends from making it to my Friday "Going to Kiev" get-together. There is a larger party tonight which will make up for some of that.

My friend Nathan, at whose Decatur house I am staying, was not able to drive up the steep and icy hill just outside his front door, so we nixed our last Vortex/Apres Diem night plans and hiked to the James Joyce Pub instead.

The hike was fun. In the early darkness we wandered through a woodsy area where some unknown wild animal crunched around in the leaves by the trail (my wind-up power flashlight failed to flush it out, but I'm sure it was a wolf ;-)). As we crossed a small bridge a MARTA train gracefully swung by underneath, its amber windows glowing and a few passengers visible as it glided towards Atlanta.

Once at the James Joyce bar counter, an older woman walked up behind Nathan and put her hands over his eyes saying, "I hope you're who I think you are." He wasn't, and she laughed and apologized and went on about how she had met somebody at the bar before who wore a sweater similar to Nathan's. It was all terribly awkward. I suspect this was her version of a pick-up line; that her story was fiction. This being my last Friday night in Atlanta for at least a few months, I was not interested in having a kooky woman invite herself into the conversation so that she could awkwardly hit on married Nathan.

Fortunately, friends Bryan and Laura arrived. Conversation was delightful. Laura flushed out plans to pursue freelance writing, we speculated about what the best bar in America is (and what qualities a great bar should have in the first place), and we weighed the merits of Def Leppard versus Poison. Bryan and Laura gave us a lift back to the top of Nathan's hill, we hiked down it, and after going to bed at 11 PM I awoke refreshed enough to be penning this blog entry.

Today I booked three nights at a hostel in Kiev, so I now have a place to go when I arrive. Picking one was tough; many highly-rated hostels can be found on the website. I told myself I could sample several during my visit if I so desire, so if I'm unhappy with the first one I'll just move on to another.

Tours to Chernobyl were advertised on the web site as costing "a small fee," but the confirmation email revealed that small fee to be 120 euro per person, which is not a small fee at all. Will likely have to do this, though; it's a rare opportunity.

Back of my heel is injured, but Nathan, who leads a very active lifestyle, quickly diagnosed the condition and recommended stretching exercises that will, over time, solve the problem. I already sense improvement.


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