It should surprise not a single Go2Kiev reader who was able to attend the IWCK Christmas Charity Bazaar on Dec. 6 that a) we raised a lot of money for charity; b) it was rather fun, and c) my fiancee and I slept for 12 hours straight after we finally got home from the whole affair. Charity can be exhausting work.
While the finally tally from the bazaar remains an unknown to me, I understand that despite the meltdown of global markets and the drop in value of the hryvnia vs. the U.S. dollar, we may well have managed to raise more than last year’s total of $172,000! I want to sincerely thank each and everyone of you the people out there who took part in the bazaar, whether by donating gifts or by spending money at it! It was great fun and knowing we all created such a positive contribution to the community in which we live makes me feel very proud to have been part of the overall effort!
As to whether or not I’ll take on the task of organizing the Tombola booth at the bazaar next year, I won’t say at this point, but rest assured it will be in good hands!
Other Christmas traditions
For the past two Christmases, friends and I have gotten together to do a Secret Santa gift exchange – a way of encouraging and spreading the Christmas cheer in us all while being far away from family (that’s most of us) over the holidays. It’s always been a lot of fun, and while I don’t want to advocate for any particular gift exchange website, www.elfster.com has been pretty helpful.
Anyone unfamiliar with the whole Secret Santa idea, know this: you and your friends or colleagues agree who wants to take part, you set a price limit per gift and then draw names to see who buys for whom (the websites do the name drawing and send out all the emails, plus Elfster offers a few other features that make it easier to do the shopping). Last year I got a rather curious gift (my friends and I don’t always exchange meaningful items), but this year I’m gonna do something rather festive. A lot of shops this year seem to have finally started to move away from all the schlock that seems to plague this country and are now stocking items that seem worthy of giving to other people!
Anyway, to make a long story short, when far away from family, friends are the next best thing and a gift exchange among them helps bring out the best in everyone. Plus it’s nice to see the contrast in buying styles between friends from Europe, North America and Ukraine; you get quite a mix of gifts that range from silly and laughable to useful and downright thoughtful. It’s all starting to make me feeling like waxing nostalgic…
There’s one more Christmas tradition in which my fiancée and I will take part this year: the National Opera Theatre will once again host a series of spectacular music and ballet performances over the holidays. Check out www.opera.com.ua for more details (they even have an English version of the site).
Some very good news for foodies out there with the opening of the Australian Goodman’s Steak House and of the rebranding and revamping of the old Pan Pizza chain as Oliva restaurants.
Goodman’s, which purports to import fresh cuts of beef and other meats directly from the US and Australia regularly, opened on 75 Zhylyanska St. about a month ago and has already impressed friends of mine who love their prime rib, top sirloin and other top cuts of beef. A couple of them even tried out the burger on the weekend and found that to be well worth the reported Hr 100 price tag. Sounds intriguing, as Ukrainians really seem to be developing a appetite for real beef of late.
More promising for regular folk, however, is that Pan Pizza locations citywide have now turned a new corner with their new name, look and management. The Oliva restaurant chain (16 Sahaidachnoho, 25 Druzhby Narodiv Blvd., 5 Kominterna) has so many things going for it that it’s hard to know where to begin: warm, cozy interiors buzzing with conversation and atmosphere; excellent service, and (best of all) great food at great prices: I had the salami (pepperoni) pizza for just Hr 45 the other night while my fiancée dined on the superb grilled salmon filet (Hr 55) and both were simply perfect! The menus are in Ukrainian and English and they do breakfast, lunch and dinner, though for all but the first meal of the day you should try to get there early as tables fill up fast. Kyivan’s know a good thing when they see it!