Home Diaries Best Pictures Road Trip
Our New (Almost) Home
October 4, 1998
Did you figure out which one of the First Five we chose?
It was tough. Nothing's perfect and certainly nothing would live up to our dream penthouse. That's what makes them dreams I guess.
The lucky winner was #2!. The size seemed more tolerable after looking at even smaller ones. The view is great. Best of all, it was a fairly good "remont" of a classic, old European building. Fourteen foot ceilings. The rooms are taller than they are wide! And we negotiated the price down to closer to the lower end of our price range.
We're not actually into this place but you can have a tour anyway. First, the outer door. Clearly this is a building with experience. Lots of experience. Wars even. (In WWII, the battle front passed by this building, and all of Kyiv, at least five times. And this building was old then.) Next we see the lobby. The flash from the camera makes this look much better than it looks in person. And, up six flights of stairs past the smelly trash chute , we do finally get into our little home. Marianne calls it our doll house but real men don't admit to living in a d--- h----.
Inside, it's hard to get back far enough with the camera to see anything. These shots were mostly taken through doors because shots of walls from three feet away are dull. Anyway. Here's the entry hall. The door at the end goes into the living room. Kyiv houses believe in real doors between every room. None of that California open layout here in the frigid north.
Here's our kitchen. No cupboards. No sink. No nada (almost). Kitchen equipment like that is considered "furniture". That's the bad news. The good news is that the owner agreed to finish the kitchen and we even went with him to select the cabinets and refrigerator. A real treat. He speaks no English but has strong opinions on how much he will spend and what the kitchen should look like. We work though a real estate person who does speak good English and, after a few rounds, we conclude that Sergey the owner may be pretty cheap but he has good sense for color and (simple) style. We agree to throw in a bit of money to solve the cost difference and it's all settled.
(Lest you think this is a trivial matter, let me explain. The Ukraine currency is falling apart right now. The conversion was 2.5:1 a month ago and it's 3.6:1 today - 4.1:1 on the black market that has sprouted in the last two weeks. Consequently, even though we pay rent in $US, the prices of things like appliance has been rising - even in dollar terms. People are rushing out to convert their hryvnas into some things useful, like appliances. We selected a refrigerator on Wednesday night. When Sergey went back Thursday morning, he found that the case was cracked. It was impossible to replace that model because they were all gone and it apparently took another 24 hours to find a comparable machine - for an extra $70. And the real estate agent thought that almost all refrigerators could disappear in a few weeks. I really don't know what hryvna-earners will do.)
Back at the apartment, here's the MASTER BEDROOM. Marianne is trying to figure out exactly how we fit a bed in here. (The room ends just behind the door.) And an armoire since these buildings have no built-in closets. Tight. Very tight. Oh well, look at those charming floors. Real parquet and these are actually pretty old. There is a covered porch just past those glass doors so the little room is quite light. But the smallest room of all is this. Back home, outhouses are bigger. Much bigger.
One feature makes these units pretty quiet. The outer walls are at least three feet of brick. Inner walls are two to three feet thick brick as well. I don't think we'll be hearing our neighbors. This thick masonry also causes the inside temperature to change slowly. Today the walls were still warmer than the outside air but we've been assured they will catch up and become quite cold.
'Til next time.
ps: I've mixed pictures from today and some from just a couple weeks ago. Did everyone notice the change in Marianne's stylish clothing? It's now October. It's cold. Very cold. Oh well, Spring is only six months away. Or seven.
Home Diaries Best Pictures Road Trip
Originally sent October, 1998. Reformatted for website 12 May, 2001 Revised format January 13, 2017.