Hostels: I caught a train at 6:30 p.m. to spend the night with Anya. Earlier I texted her and asked her the name of her metro stop so I could travel there from the train station when I got to Kiev. She called me and said, "Jessica, we have a problem." She rents a room in an apartment. Her landlord had invited relatives to stay and allowed them to sleep on the floor in Anya's room. The landlord didn't even ask Anya, despite Anya's right to the room because she pays for it. So she couldn't have me sleep there when she barely had room herself. I really wanted to spend time with her another night since I will soon be traveling in Europe and wouldn't have another chance to see her. She looked at several hostels online and found one that had empty beds so we agreed to put up the money to stay at a hostel near Independence Square in Kiev.
In Kiev, I took the metro to meet her at Kreschatyk Street. She met me underground and we walked up and down several streets while carrying my bags to find the hostel. Anya had printed off the directions. We finally found it, lugged my luggage up five floors because there was no elevator and arrived at a door marked "downtown." (Don't ask me). We entered and then rang the doorbell because no one was around. And then, all sweaty and exhausted and hungry and thirsty (that was me. SO THIRSTY), we were told that the hostel had no beds. We had booked it online. There had been beds then.
The kind girl told us that there was another hostel, a newer one, that had beds and she would walk us there. We walked at least another mile (at 10:30 p.m.) to another hostel. She let us in and we saw that the empty beds were in a large room of six bunk beds, and all guys. "Is it okay - Do guys usually share a room with girls at a hostel?" Anya whispered to me, looking a little stricken. "Usually there is a guys' room, a girls' room or mixed room," I said. "But I suppose that isn't the case here." At this point, who cared? I just wanted something to drink. And then eat. This just seemed par for the course. We dropped our stuff off, I locked up my computer in a locker and we went off to hunt for a restaurant at 11 p.m. I was pretty sure we wouldn't find anything. That just seemed to be how the evening was going.
Coffee Time: But I was wrong. We found "Coffee Time," open all night. We sat, the waitress came over to give us menus, and I immediately asked for water without gas - that's what you say, "Water without gas, please." It was a very western-style menu. Caesar salad, sandwiches, sushi. We each ordered sandwiches with fries. That was one of the three items on the menu that came with free iced teas. We also ordered Chernihiv beer. At a coffee house. Why not? The water came first in a glass bottle. I downed that immediately. I felt so dehydrated. Then the beer came and Anya and I got happier. We talked and then played "Wurdle" while we waited for food. Wurdle is Anya's new favorite game. The food arrived with the tea. The tea had lemon, apple slices and mint leaves. It was the most amazing thing I'd ever drunk. The sandwiches were also really good. We laughed and joked about old times. Mostly having to do with me during Peace Corps. For example:
1. The time I got locked inside my first apartment because the lock broke and I through my keys out the window for Sasha to try from the outside. That didn't work so he had to go get tools to save me.
2. The time I woke up in my apartment on a Saturday at around 10:30 a.m. and an old woman was standing there. In my apartment. Somehow the door had swung open during the night and she was probably wondering why I'd left the door open. But still, you just barge in?? And yell at the poor American in Russian?
3. The time during the winter that Matt slept over because he'd been hanging out with Anya and me the day before. He slept on the floor and in the morning, my landlord (also a vice principal at my school), stopped by to drop something by (I think, I don't remember). All I remember is that I didn't want everyone at school to think I'd had a boy sleep over so I made Matt get up and go wait out on the balcony. Barefoot! In shorts! I think I allowed him to grab a t-shirt. So there he stood, out in the winter, on my tiny balcony, waiting for me to finish talking to my landlord. I don't remember what she said. I was just like uh huh, uh huh, get out! Anya and I were practically rolling around on the ground remembering that one. Poor Matt.
4. The time I was food poisoned by shuarma (burritos) shortly before my service ended in Koziatyn and two days later, the owner of that shop called me at night, wanted to have tea and talk. I met him on the corner near my apartment and he wanted to know if we could continue to communicate; maybe talk on the internet when I got to America. Only problem was, he speaks Russian. I speak English and Ukrainian sort of. During the course of our little convo, I kept asking what, what, what? even while he wanted to know if we could continue to communicate. How? Through this weird combination of hand gestures and Ukrainian-Russian-English?
After we ate, we ordered shots of Bailey's. Because I'd seen it on the menu and I really wanted it. And also because we were a little afraid to go back to our strange sleeping arrangement. We drank that and giggled some more. And then we ordered vodka. Because I have so little time with Anya. And because I've been in Ukraine five days and no one has made me drink vodka yet! (This is a good thing. And I've been mostly around woman, but still). So we each drank some shots of vodka and chased it with juice. Then, at like 1 a.m., we finally and tipsily traipsed back to the hostel.
I had put my backpack on one bed and my sweatshirt on the other. My stuff was pushed to the side and two other backpacks were on the beds!! The guy across the way pointed at two other beds and said he thought those were free. So couldn't the other strangers who put their stuff on our beds have taken the "free ones" because these were obviously not free? It annoyed me. But we moved our stuff to the empty beds so we wouldn't have any fights whenever those guys came back who took our beds.