Trip Start Dec 01, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Ukraine  ,
Saturday, December 15, 2007

Arno writing: It's Saturday here so there's nothing we can do adoption wise. Luba asked us if we wanted to go an hour out of town to a monastery. We jumped at the opportunity to do some sightseeing. The city of Severdonetsk just seems to connect to the surrounding citites. There seems to be miles of apartment buildings that are run down. Frequently people will hang their laundry on the balconies to dry. After 50 minues of driving we came to vast farm fields which reminded me of South Georgia, except the fields were covered with snow. Our young taxi driver (looked to be around 17 years old) got lost because there are no signs anywhere. It's pretty in the countryside, but the pine trees have no bark on the tops of the trees. Our driver stopped to refuel on the way. His car used some kind of natural gas for fuel. The driver opened the trunk and refueled through the trunk. He made us get out of the car during this for safety precautions. After 90 minutes of driving on bad roads Lancie was feeling car sick. I saw the first lake I've seen in Ukraine. We were quite lost driving through many small towns with small houses that had tin roofs. many had white brick veneer with blue or green trim around the windows. We stopped half a dozen times to ask people for directions. We finally arrived at our destination after 2 hours of driving. The monastery was beautiful with it's gold domes. It was located at the edge of a beautiful river and the base of a small mountain. When we tried to enter, a guard made Lancie buy a scarf and put it on over her pants. She had to wear it like a skirt. This was a requirement of all women who wanted to enter. There was no entrance fee, but there was also nothing open. We walked around some, and it was very slippery due to ice on the roads. Across from the monastery on the other side of the river the area is really being developed. There is even a  short river walk. This is the big tourist spot in the area. A few vendors had their goods out and I bought some almonds. On the very top of the mountain the soviets erected a large, white statue of a man (soldier). What a contrast to what the monastery stands for. On the way back we stopped  a couple of times to take pictures. One place was a cemetary. They had pictures of the deceased on the graves and lots of picnic tables and benches. I imagine our driver thought "crazy American tourists want to take pictures here". When we returned to Severdonesk, we had the driver drop us off at the orphanage so we could spend some time with Anastasia. Our driver only charged us $40 for the trip. Great price considering he spent all day with us and the cost of automobile fuel now.
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