Homes, Offices & Other – Unique Buildings in Berlin

Today, walking around Berlin hopelessly lost, I snapped some pictures of cool apartments. If you have the cash, I definitely think Berlin would be as cool city to spend some time in. Everything is super clean, the people are nice and there are lots of cool sights to take in.

So with that in mind, which apartment would you choose to live in?

Leave a comment below, I’m interested to find out!

I’ll accept debate to as whether this is a home or an office. I call it The Hoffice

Hoffice

If you can’t live in the penthouse, why bother?

Balcony

 

If you live here, you’ll never have to worry about people peaking into your windows (slats).

Privacy

 

Plainer than others, but all the balconies on this building look out over a cool river.Plane Jane

 

I can’t even imagine how much this penthouse must cost.Penthouse

 

Sort of boring, but I’m a sucker for the color scheme and design.

Orange and White

 

Black and white, or is it white and black?

Black and White

 

This building is offices.. But I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the world’s largest slice of cheese.

Cheese

 

Top floor for the wind, and for the sun.

Red Brick

 

I don’t think I can afford to live here just yet.

Expensive

 

What’s the point of having a sick ass apartment if you can’t drive to it in a 458?

Black on Black

How to Learn Russian

Hello Russian enthusiasts!

Today I finished writing my second guide. As you’re probably aware, my first guide is called Try the Borsch and it’s all about how to find a good teaching job in Russia. That guide was downloaded over 100 times. I think that’s pretty cool! This time the subject is still Russia, but I’ve come at the problem of the language. Russian is bloody difficult and it doesn’t help that in university classes (at least in the United States) all you do is study grammar.

Yuck!

My guide is a cure to that. Sure I cover grammar, but I also give you lots of other fun and interesting ways to learn Russian. It’s a nice summary of all the techniques I’ve used to acquire my own level of fluency (which is close to intermediate at this point).

I encourage you to give this book a once over. Even if you’re already well on your way to fluency in Russian, I’m sure you’ll find something interesting.

Check it out here

Pictures from Odessa

I really enjoyed Odessa. It’s one of those cities that is built around nature. There are some beautiful parks, and old growth trees are littered through the city. Of course the sea is fantastic too. I spent so much time in the sun I was the color of a tomato!

I’m definitely going to go back to Odessa, and I would really recommend you check it out if you haven’t been there yet. It’s definitely not the easiest city to get to in the world, but I think it’s really worth it.

Let’s take a look at what’s there.

This is the main street in Odessa. Never any cars, always a bustling crowd.

Main St

To me, this looks like the coolest place to eat ever!

Cool Restaurant

 

Odessa has this really terrific path running along a cliff, just before the sea.

Long Park

 

Lots of the parks in Odessa have awesome fountains like this one.

Cool Fountain

 

A close up of that buildings cool statue park, for lack of a better word.

Building

Of course, shipping is very important here.

Industry

 

Watching these yellow cranes work was really a blast.

Big Ship

 

Yes Odessa, I do love you <3

Odessa Love

 

Everyone was hot and tired in the 90 degree weather.

Hot Day

Kiev Almost Killed This Man

I’d like to introduce you to Benny. This is exactly how he looked as his flight home was taking of from Kiev’s international airport. You may notice several things, like the filthy shirt and the somewhat haphazard manner in which he’s sleeping.

What you can’t see are the lack of a wallet, telephone, and impressive facial reconstruction courtesy of several unknown fists. After a heavy night of partying Benny was mugged, and as Benny himself pointed out;

“This is going to be a good story to tell in a month or two.”

The Party Animal

Benny checked into our hostel on Monday night and as soon as it got dark outside he left. The next morning he came back sometime around 7, which set a pattern for the days to come.

After he woke up in the evening, I took him out for steak and then we ended up going to a few bars around Kiev. When we came back to the hostel at midnight I was ready to call it a night, but despite partying till past sunrise the night before, Benny wanted more.

So he went to the club and I went to sleep.

This story continued to repeat itself. Benny would party till sunrise then sleep till 6 pm. He would eat something and go out again. He never once actually woke up early enough to go see anything in the city nor did he ever allow his liver a chance to recover.

After the fourth day in a row of this he felt sick, couldn’t eat anything and looked pale.

“I ate some bad soup” he said to me. “Dammit, why do I always get bad food at restaurants?”

“Maybe it’s just that you’ve been getting drunk every night and your body hates you?” I asked pleasantly.

“No, I don’t think that’s it. I’m pretty sure it’s the soup..”

A Last Chance Resolution

Sunday afternoon, his last day in Kiev, Benny resolved to do something cultural and enlightening. He reserved a ticket to the opera and left sometime around four. Well the next day rolled around and at 7 am, his usual return time, he still wasn’t back.

8 came and went.

9 came and went.

The owner of our hostel suggested he just took off without paying. “Sometimes people just go and all we find is a crummy backpack with some bad clothes.”

Curse you Benny! I thought to myself, while secretly at least slightly pleased that I would get to keep his beat up copy of The FountainheadBut then we looked at his things and saw his British Passport. That was a clue something was amiss.

“He’s in jail!” I said in Russian to my friend.

Benny Returns from the Dead

10 was just about to come and go, when I walked down the stairs to the common area and there was Benny, stumbling drunk and looking like hell. His shirt was wrecked with dirt, his face had been worked on, and I had trouble imagine the amount of alcohol that this seasoned drinker must have taken in to be walking like Ernest Hemingway at an open bar wedding.

“Worst night of my life!” He said to me in his English accent. “Worst fucking night of my life!”

He got himself seated on the couch, then he broke it down.

“I went out and I was at the bar. Then after that I saw these homeless guys and I thought yeah, that’s cool you know. So I bought them three bottles of vodka and we all drank together. And it was all chill you know. But then one guy asked me for 50 Grivna and I said no. Then something happened and he punched me, and I punched him. And it was like crazy! But he had this really big friend and he came and punched me. And then there was like a million guys punching me and it just sucked! But I showed them though. When they were going for my phone I didn’t let them have it.”

At this point he mimed picking up his phone high in his hand..

“I took it up and smashed it on the concrete so they couldn’t use it, and then before they could take my wallet I bent up my ATM card so it’s useless. They still took all my money though, so I guess they did sort of win in a way.”

Minutes after this he went into a vodka induced coma from which we were physically unable to rouse him. I have a video of us trying to get him to wake up but I’ll keep that to myself.

Needless to say, Benny did not make his flight back home..

Curse you Kiev!

You can blame who or what you want, but I think the root of the problem here is clear..

What kind of city sells beer for a dollar at any bar anywhere in the city!

Obviously whoever created this policy didn’t take into account that some people come from places where alcohol is expensive. When they arrive in Kiev they simply don’t know how to conduct themselves.

What is for some of us a blessing is for others a curse. Benny was in Kiev for a week and I don’t think he ever saw anything besides the inside of bar. We have no idea if he ever made it to the opera or not.

How to Make Traditional Ukrainian Borsch

Earlier in life I wasn’t a soup guy. I liked the stuff my mom made but that was about it. Now though, I’ve found a dish I could eat every day for the rest of my life. Borsch is a fantastic blend of vegetables, spices, and magic.

This recipe came from Mama Luda, who grew up in Norther Ukraine and learned how to cook from her mother. She was nice enough to cook it with me one morning and allowed me to write down the recipe.

Remember though, if you decide to make it, you have to eat it with a dollop of sour cream. It’s tradition and it’s delicious.

Ukrainian Red Borsch

Ingredients 

-7 to 10 medium sized Potatoes
-2 Small green onions (regular onions will do too, one medium sized onion is sufficient)
-2 to 3 Carrots
-3 to 5 Beets (plus the leaves too if you can get them)
-1 to 2 Tomatoes (tomato sauce will also work)
-Half head of cabbage
-A teaspoon or so of sugar
-A little bit of fresh dill
-Salt and Pepper optional

Preparation

1) Cut up the carrots and beats into small pieces

2) Cup up potatoes, onions and beet leaves into small chunks and add them to a big soup pot with about 1.5 liters of water. Set this pan on a high heat to boil, and then when it does boil turn down the heat to low

3) Fry carrots in a bit of oil and after several minutes add the beets, tomatoes, and a touch of sugar. Fry the lot of it till the carrots and beets begin to brown then set aside

4) Consider what life must have been like under communist rule

5) Cut up or shred the cabbage into inch long pieces

6) When the potatoes in the pan are soft and ready, then add the cabbage to the mixture

7) Continue to cook on a low boil and add water as you see fit (perhaps another half liter or so, depending on how it looks)

8) If you don’t have tomatoes and are using sauce, you can add it to the boiling water after the cabbage

9) Wash your dill in cold water then warm water. After that, cut it up into very small pieces

10) Several minutes after adding the cabbage, add the beet, carrot and tomato mixture to the boiling water. Put a little bit of water into the pan you fried that all in then dump it into the soup pan, ensuring you don’t leave any delicious bits stuck in the pan

11) Stir, add salt and pepper if you so desire.

12) Once the cabbage, beets, and carrots are cooked and soft, then add your fresh cut dill. Stir it into the soup thoroughly then turn off the heat.

13) Make mental note to buy more vodka as you only have one bottle left and you may want to get drunk tonight

14) Let stand ten minutes and then serve with sour cream on the side (this step is incredibly important and must be obeyed at all costs)

 

You have now made traditional Ukrainian Borsch!

Why Ukrainians are Straight Up Hustlers

Being in Ukraine right now is incredibly good for my business spirit. I’m surrounded by people who are making do without a lot of money. However, it’s not a permanent state of mind.

One of the worst curses of poverty is the state of mind that goes with it. People in poverty often believe that they cannot change things. Even if there is an opportunity to better their situation and make a positive change, a person with a poverty mindset won’t see it.

Fixing Poverty

People toss around statistics sometimes.

“With X Billions of dollars we could get rid of poverty in the United States.”

I disagree. Even if you bought every person in poverty a new apartment, and gave them job training, and made sure they had enough food, it would do nothing to change their underlying mental thought patterns.

It can take years to radically change the way you view your environment. Most people don’t have the gumption to switch to a new way of thinking. Thus, most people either have it, or they don’t.

Ambition and Action

That’s why I freaking love it here in Kiev. Even though many people are surviving on a very small salary, they have exactly the opposite of a poverty mindset. Most of the Ukrainians I meet are hustling to make more money and improve their situation.

One guy I know has invested money in an online business and has started earning a return. Another is taking programming classes. I just met a guy my age who founded his own English language school with some friends, and they’re expanding the business right now.

This spirit is infectious!

I’m working towards developing a monthly income from online work at the moment, and I feel like a Ukrainian. I’m proud to say that too. Admittedly I haven’t really been that many places, but I definitely identify more with Ukrainians than Russians.

Living Carefully

Another thing I’ve noticed is that people here are careful with money. They don’t buy something new if they can fix the old thing. They don’t eat out when they can cook at home.

I think America should take lessons. We are so quick to throw out our stuff and buy something new that we have lost touch with our roots.

Almost a hundred years ago America was in a depression and people were hustling. Food was a question not a guarantee. Today, our waistlines prove that this is no longer the case.

As do our landfills.

We’ve lost touch with what it means to economize and hustle and jump for opportunities. That’s why I think everyone could benefit from some Ukrainian spirit. This is a fantastic country that’s on the rise. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for all the hard working Ukrainians I’ve had the pleasure to meet!

How I lived for One Month on $376.16

As the title of this post suggest, my first month of my $2,500 challenge was successful. In fact I came in under budget! I’m allowed $416.67 a month, which means I was about $40 light. Damn, that’s awesome!

It really wasn’t that hard though. I put myself in a situation where it would have been difficult to fail.

The Rural Life

If you’ve been keeping up with my posts you know that I spent two weeks on a commune in Ukraine. I don’t even know if commune is the right word for it, but it’s the closest word that I think of.

Everyday I worked about five hours, carrying water and working in the garden. In exchange I slept for free, and enjoyed three delicious traditional Ukrainian meals a day (probably my favorite part of being there).

The closest store was a fifteen minute bike ride away.

I estimate that in the fifteen days I was there I spent about $7. I bought some ice cream cones, some cookies for the kids, some Tarhun, and a couple of muffins. Obviously that complete lack of expenditure is a big reason why I came in under budget (not to mention not buying alcohol).

The Kiev Party

It’s a good thing I didn’t spend any money for those two weeks, because I overspent the rest of the time.

When I first arrived in Kiev it was the beginning of my vacation, after working eight months as an English teacher. I was so thrilled to be done teaching that I went a little nuts. Lots of restaurants, lot’s of bars and lots of overpriced morning coffees at the local cafe.

I also paid a decent chunk of change to help fund an awesome adventure.

A local Ukrainian guy me and my friend Zhena knew took use to a movie theater, where we rented out an entire room to ourselves. We drank wine and made fun of Mel Gibson, it was a riot!

However, as the average monthly salary for a Ukrainian is about as much as I paid for my hiker’s backpack, I picked up Max’s share of our movie theater adventure, and wrote it off as a brilliantly fun night.

The Budget Continues

I’m working with this challenge month by month, and July is taken care of. I’m volunteering at a hostel near the city center of Kiev. In exchange for a couple of hours a work a day I have a free place to stay. That means my only expenses are food and alcohol.

With $13.87 a day to spend, this is easily doable. I’m sure that there are million of Ukrainian out there who do it on half this amount.

You can go to any bar around here and buy a beer for $1. Food is also inexpensive. Yesterday I went slightly over budget, spending $15.23. However, for that money, let’s take a look at what I got.

A bottle of Wine from Chile, a block of Swiss cheese, a package of pre-sliced salami, two-hundred grams of vegetable salad with feta, two slices of cake, a bottle of Kefir, five small cucumbers, a bar of chocolate, eight sausages, and two cans of summer edition RedBull.

Pretty awesome huh!

If you’re converting Dollars or Euros to the local currency (Grivna) you benefit from a wonderful exchange rate. A couple of years ago you could only buy half as many Grivna as you can today. Add to that that most things here are cheap to begin with and you get a winning formula.

It’s not wonder that I’m going to come back to Kiev next summer and rent an apartment.

Why Aren’t You Here?

All of this begs the question, if there is a place you can buy a back pack full of food for $15, and a beer at a downtown bar for $1, why wouldn’t you come?

The war in Ukraine is invisible here. I feel safer in Kiev than I did in New York. The people are fantastic, and nearly without exception, every person I’ve met has said how much they love Kiev.

What are you waiting for?

How to Get a Volunteering Job at a Hostel

If you want to travel around the world on a budget, volunteering at a hostel is a great way to live for free. In exchange for a couple of hours a work a day, you’ll have a place to stay for free. I think that’s a pretty good deal, especially as the work load won’t be difficult.

I have some personal experience with this. At this very moment I’m sitting on a couch in my hostel in Kiev, Ukraine. I’m volunteering here in exchange for a bed. I think I’m getting a great deal!

Most of my work is doing laundry, and since we only have one machine, much of my job is actually waiting for the washing cycle to finish. Two hours of reading every four shift, check.

I’m also always meeting new, interesting people. Yesterday four cool Canadians came in. We all went to the bar last night and a couple of them ended up getting their heads lit on fire. Good times.

If this sounds like a good deal to you, let’s check out how you can make it a reality.

How to Find a Volunteer Job at a Hostel

1) Check out

www.WorkAway.info

You may get lucky and find a hostel volunteering opportunity there. Or maybe some different work you like even better. Simply search for you city and see what’s available.

2) Go to

www.HostelWorld.com

Find all the hostels in the city your interested in. Next, take the names of those hostels and find their websites. For example, the website for the hostel I’m volunteering at is;

www.KievCentralStation.com

Once you’ve found your hostels website, navigate to the Contact Us section. There you should find a contact email. Copy that email address and send them a message.

What should you say?

Well I don’t know if there is one correct message and one other one that’s not good. I think a good email will disclose a few sentences about yourself and why you want to volunteer. Next, briefly mention some related work experience if you have it. Or if you’ve already stayed in many hostels, mention that as well.

Finally, offer customize the message a bit. Check out pictures of the hostel your emailing and find something that looks cool. Maybe the location, or the common room, or an in-house cafe. Mention that you think the hostel is desirable because of that. Just don’t forget to change this part of the message for every hostel!

And that’s it. Send this message to a bunch of hostels and wait for some replies.

My Message

When I was doing this I sent out three emails, five days before I was ready to arrive. One hostel never replied, one hostel very nicely declined, and one said yes.

And that’s the story of how I’m here. Literally ten minutes of work and I found a place to live for free for a month.

So I’ll end this post with an exact copy of the email I used to secure this job. It’s awfully informal, rather short, and conversational. But it get’s the point across and worked for me.

Cheers from Kiev

Sam

P.S. In Russian, it’s very common to do smiley faces not like this 🙂 but like this )), in case you think I made a grammar error.

——————-

Hello, привет))

My name’s Sam and I’m living in Northern Ukraine right now. However, I’m coming into Kiev on Friday. What I’m looking for is a place to work / volunteer, and I think Kiev Central Station looks awesome, I love the layout of the common rooms and kitchen.

In exchange for a place to stay I’d be happy to help out with whatever you need. Registering guests, keeping the rooms tidy, or organizing events.

I’m American, 23 years old, and I almost speak intermediate Russian. Если удобно для вас, можно разговаривать по-русски.

If you think this sounds like a good deal, please send me an email back. I’m going to be in Kiev waiting for your reply.

Спасибо!

My Friends Got Their Heads Lit On Fire!

Another crazy night out in Kiev. At some point I’m actually going to have to adopt a more civilized lifestyle and stop being a Gatsby. For now though, that party continues.

At the moment I’m in an amazing position. I’m volunteering at a hostel in Kiev, which is turning out to be a fantastic way to meet new people. Every day some people leave, and some other people come in from all parts of the world. Yesterday some cool Canadians arrived, and they wanted to have a night out in Kiev.

The Local Kiev Bar

My boss suggested we all go to a local bar which sells $2 steaks and $1 beer. Obviously that’s where we went. The steak turned out to be delicious, and we got more than we bargained for in the way of entertainment.

The bartender grabbed a few of the Canadians. We had no idea what was happening, as he wrapped them in a large coat and put helmets on their heads. The mystery increased when he started putting alcohol soaked rags on the bar, and then a wrench, and that’s all I’ll say. You’ll just have to watch the video.

Cool right..

Another fun night partying in Kiev. I’m really glad I’m here right now and I have the chance to see cool stuff like this. Although I gotta say, the reason I’d go back to this place isn’t that they may light me on fire, it’s the sheer awesomeness of being able to eat a steak and drink a beer for a total of $3.

Ukraine is where it’s at!

14 Fantastic Pictures from Chernobyl, Ukraine

The Chernobyl disaster happened on April 26, 1986. In one day an entire city was forced to leave behind their lives. Now it’s a popular tourist destination in Ukraine, and there are a handful of companies that offer guided tours to the abandoned site. My friend Sergej (pronounced Sergei) went there a few days ago and based on everything he showed me, I think he spent more time taking pictures then he did breathing!

But that’s ok, because he got some really fantastic shots. He also narrated the story behind every picture before handing them over. So without anymore words, let’s check out some of the pictures he took. If you want to learn more about Chernobyl, click here for the Wiki entry.

Sergej (the man behind all these photos) chilling on top of an abandoned 16 story apartment building

An abandoned store. This used to be a thriving town until the accident

This MASSIVE radar array could detect a nuclear missile launch the second it happened in America

Really, you think this would be obvious

At one point all of these documents were classified, not anymore though

This guy looks like he had a lobotomy at a young age

An abandoned kindergarten, with dolls left on the beds by the children

A faded socialist mural

Sergej said that the floor on this court is still decent, and you could play here if you wanted

Bumper cars anyone? This is my personal favorite of the lot

The famous ferris wheel. Anyone else recognize this from Call of Duty 4?

Same thing with this diving board, I swear I’ve seen it in COD 4 before..

The view from 16 stories up. The apartment building forest

I think the background sky for this monument is so fantastic!

Well that’s all it. I have about a hundred pictures that Sergej gave me, but uploading more simply is not happening. If you want to learn more, you’ll just have to come to Ukraine and see the site for yourself.

Thanks Sergej for the pictures!

Partying in Kiev Till Sunrise

Last night I got back to my hostel somewhere in the vicinity of 7am. It was the first time I’ve ever gone on an all night party. And after that experience, you can be damn sure it won’t be my last time!

I’m going to actively try to make it happen more often. Experiencing both the sunset, and sunrise, without any sleep in between them is great. I really feel like I’m missing out, having never done it before.

For me, all of this is possible because of Kiev. This city really is amazing, as if I haven’t said that before. There is something here that is greater than the sum of it’s parts. The people are alive and interesting. The food and drinks are cheap. There is an overall feeling of forward progress. I can understand why Ukraine would consider joining the EU. Despite the fact that most people here speak Russian daily, the attitude is more Western than Russian. And I for one support the citizens of Ukraine who want to rid themselves of the Russian influence.

I’ve lived in Moscow, and I’ve lived in Kiev. I don’t want more of a Russian influence here, I like it just the way it is.

I’m Not Alone

It’s been interesting to find out that I’m not the only person who is impressed with the city. My two new German friends both feel the same way.

Yesterday we spoke entirely in Russian for about eight hours. Thanks Zhena, for being so awesome at enforcing the no English rule.

A topic that came up more than once is our mutual love of the city. And to that end, we all have future plans here. Next year Zhena wants to study Russian here for six months. Myself, I’m going to rent an apartment here next summer and live it up. By then I’ll be fluent in Russian, and fluent in my second language as well.

Sergej also wants to come back to Kiev next summer, and there’s a decent chance that if he does, we will rent an apartment together. I think that would be awesome because if I choose to study German as my next language, I’ll be able to practice with him. After I become fluent in German, me, Zhena and Sergej will all be tri-lingual in the same three languages. How freaking sweet is that!

The Secret Party

Our first bar last night was actually an underground pub. If you’re not familiar with Eastern Europe, I’ll be the first to tell you that underground bars and restaurants are really common in Kiev and Moscow. In fact, my favorite restaurant in Moscow, Papa’s Place, is only accessible by walking down a staircase into the basement.

Same with our first pub of the night.

After losing a few people, the three of us changed venues. Me, the American. Zhena, the German. Sergej, the German, Russian (he is very particular about this point).

We moved to a new bar and smoked hookah and drank for two hours. At one point, after speaking exclusively in Russian for 45 minutes, we broke into English for thirty seconds. The people at the table behind us started in surprise.

“Они говорять по-английски!” (“They speak English!).

Shortly afterwards, at 2am, our bar closed and we were back on the street. I don’t think we walked a block before we found a new spot. Maybe it wasn’t perfect, but it fit the main criterion, it was open.

We drank for a minute then I walked down into the basement to find the bathroom. I found it, and I also found the real party. Below the ostensibly boring above-ground of this bar, the real party was in the basement.

A DJ, lights, people dancing, and Russian karaoke.

I went back upstairs, grabbed my friends and we all went down to the basement. By the time we left, it was light out and the sun was near at hand.

The Long Walk

I don’t remember the reason, something about Zhena going home, but despite being five minutes from our hostel, we began to walk in the opposite direction. Kiev is a hilly city and I think we climbed all of them. It paid off.

After forty-five minutes we had an incredible view out over the entire Eastern part of the city. I wish I could have taken a picture but my phone had died hours ago. (Жена, исли ты читаешь это, у тебя есть фото?)

Six in the morning, partying all night, and ending it with an incredible view of Kiev.

Travelling in Ukraine, My Past and Future

The craziest thing for me is to think that I’ve only been travelling for 20 days! That’s it, it’s hard to believe. I’ve gotten to experience so much already that it really feels more like two months. My adventure started in Kiev (which I detailed in this post). My god was it an awesome time!

I met some cool people, talked for hours in Russian, drank wine in a park with a Ukrainian guy, German girl, and Brazilian guy. I walked all around Kiev with a guy from Miami, comparing the city (favorably) to America. Me and two friends rented out an entire movie theater and watched a Mel Gibson movie while drinking wine and making jokes in Russian. I met a French guy who had been to the front-lines of the Ukrainian conflict (war seems like such a harsh word).

In the end, I feel like Hemingway did in Paris (BTW, have you read A Moveable FeastIt’s really good).

The Middle of Nowhere Ukraine

Even though I was in love with Ukraine, I had made the promise to go to Obirok (population: ten houses). My aim in going there was to practice Russian and work outside.

I have a love hate relationship with working outside.

On one hand, I hate it and would just assume never, ever do it. But on the other hand, it’s spiritual work. The way I think about it, human beings lived off the land for thousands, tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of years. Everyone lived and worked outside, it was a way of life. It’s only in the last two hundred years or so that we’ve started to live and work inside.

That’s what makes it appealing to me, it’s like connecting with an earlier life.

Also, let’s be honest here, you can get a killer tan!

So for two weeks I lived on a small piece of property in Ukraine and worked outside. I carried water to the kitchen, ripped weeds out of the garden, and punched a chicken.

Along the way I also spoke loads of Russian, learned a bit of Ukrainian, ate about a dozen traditional Ukrainian dishes, met some really cool people, completely abstained from alcohol, meditated twice a day, went totally vegetarian, read sixty or seventy hours, and came to grips with a rural lifestyle.

All things considered, it was a really fantastic experience. If you ever want to try it out for yourself, click this link to find out how you can.

Returning to Civilization

I’ve been back in Kiev for maybe twelve hours now, and it feels good to be back home. I don’t know if your allowed to claim an entire city just for yourself, but I’m going to stretch the rules and claim Kiev my own!

Everything is cheap as hell (I paid $2.50 for my breakfast this morning, I paid $1.50 for a liter of good beer last night at the bar), the people are amazing, I get to practice Russian, and my god everything is beautiful.

I’m staying at an amazing hostel and I’ve met some fantastic people already.

Also, I’ve got a business opportunity. I’ve met two people who do freelance translation. Between the two of them, they can translate anything between Russian, English, Ukrainian, and German. Could I create a website and offer lower prices than the competition?

It’s a thought. Ultimately though I don’t think I’ll do that. I’ve got some other ideas and I want to spend most of my time developing them.

The Next Couple of Weeks

I’m going to stay in Kiev for a while longer. But in keeping with my strict $2,500 budget, I can’t really afford to stay in a hostel the whole time. So I thought to myself, well how can I stay in Kiev for free?

I love hostels, I love the people I meet, and so on. So I need to find a way to stay at a hostel for free!

In ten minutes I drafted a nice little email offering my services as a volunteer. I sent it off to the three biggest hostels in Kiev and waited for a response.

It didn’t take long. The hostel I really wanted to work at said they had no vacancies, the hostel I didn’t want to work at never replied, and the hostel that landed somewhere in the middle accepted my offer. Tomorrow I’m going to take the metro a few stops and meet up with them. If the situation is good, I’ll stay there for a couple of weeks, free of charge.

I’ll be doing work that’s not the best, but I think it’s fair. They promised me three day weekends and only four hours of work every day. Not bad, all in all.

That’s it though. My life, my future, and the future of this blog. I think I’ll probably stop posting every day, as I simply can’t think of a new travel related topic every day. However, the average length of my posts is probably going to go up. So I hope it all balances out in the end.

Cheers from Ukraine, cheers from Kiev, the city of dreams.