April 8, 2017: Goodbye Italy, Hello Ukraine

Saturday. The day started in Catania on the eastern coast of Sicily.  We have a wonderful hotel here near the airport.  If we return to this region, we will certainly use this hotel again.  It has been great.

We got up, were dressed and fully repacked an hour and a half before it was time for our shuttle to the airport, which we had scheduled last night.  Then we took the kids down to the hotel breakfast.  They love doing breakfast in hotels for some reason, they are never willing to skip that.  It takes forever, though, because they are painfully slow eaters.  So even with an hour and a half it felt like we were in a panic to get through breakfast in time to make it to our airport shuttle!

I ran uploads all night while we slept and we have managed to upload basically everything from the last three months.  That’s a big relief as we have no idea if we will have a chance to upload things again until we return to the US.  It is anyone’s guess what our connections will be like in Ukraine.  It is a very high tech country, so likely it will be very good.  But you never know, especially with rental apartments.

We got to the airport and boarded our Lufthansa flight headed to Munich.  This is our first time ever flying through Munich, or anywhere in Germany for that fact.  We’ve been to Germany, including Munich, multiple times before but always by train, never by plane.  So we have never dealt with a German airport.  Norwegian, Dutch, but not German.

on the flight
Liesl, Luciana, and Scott wait for our flight from Catania to Munich

Our flight went really well and we were in Germany in no time.  We had a long layover in Munich, so tons and tons of time to hang out and relax.  We were there in the morning and do not fly on to Kiev until this evening.  So lots of time to camp out and chill.

Munich had a great airport lounge that was essentially empty.  We had the whole place, and several gates, all to ourselves.  The kids could run around, I could take videos, and we were even able to Facetime with the family back home while we waited.  It was a really nice break to our day of traveling.  This is our new favourite airport to fly through.  So comfortable and nice.  And the wifi is excellent.

The kids raided the vending machines in Munich for candy to eat in the lounge while they relaxed there.  I had enough time that I took the chance to set up my laptop and actually get some things done.  Plenty of places to charge things.  There were even lounge chairs for taking naps!

In the evening we got our connecting leg from Munich to Kiev.  It was mid-evening when we arrived in Kiev.  We got our luggage, went through customs and were greeted by Anton and one of his employees at the door.  They had two cars waiting for us so that they could fit all of us and all of our luggage.  This is the easiest arrival in any country that we have ever had.

It was a long drive from the airport, which is on the left bank outside of the city, to our downtown apartment which is on the right bank right in the heart of the city.  It was great getting to see the city right away, though, and we got to take the big bridge over the Dnieper.  We’ve gotten to see nearly all of the great rivers of Europe at this point.

It was pretty late when we got to the apartment.  Anton had taken care of everything.  The apartment was all set, they already had the keys, it was stocked with all kinds of food for us, anything that we might need was ready.  Internet was already figured out and worked really well.

We will see Anton tomorrow.  He did not have time to hang out tonight, they just dropped us off and made sure that we were good for the night.

Our apartment is really cool.  It is a classic 1970s Soviet block apartment built in the USSR during the height of the cold war.  I’ve always wanted to live in one.  This is a really awesome cultural and historic opportunity.  These old apartments are not going to last for forever, they were not built to be around a long time.  Another decade or two and none will be left.  This is a really special and unique experience for us and especially for the kids.

Ours is a two bedroom deal.  Both bedrooms are decent sizes.  The girls got the bedroom with the view out onto the main street.  Our bedroom has the view onto the courtyard behind the building.  We have a small enclosed balcony built off of the living room.  The space is very odd because it was converted from a very old structure.  There is a scary, ancient elevator that was adapted into the building, but we will take the stairs a lot, I would expect.

The oddest thing is the bathroom situation.  The toilet has its own miniscule room.  I’m really lucky that I even fit into it.  That’s not going to be fun to have to live with, but it is functional.  To wash your hands or to take a shower you go to a different room next door that has the sink and the tub, but no toilet.  But the two are not connected.  You have to use the hallway to get between them.

The kitchen is really tiny, we really can’t use it for much of anything.  But the view is nice and we were not planning on doing very much cooking while we are here.

We are incredibly excited to be here in Ukraine and can’t wait to get to see more of Kiev.  We are going out tomorrow to explore.  Tonight, it is time for sleep.  It is chilly compared to where we have been.  The southern tip of Italy going into spring is very warm.  The beginning of spring in north-eastern Europe is pretty cold.  But it should warm up very soon.

Good night from the Miller family is Kiev!