Wednesday, 5 August 2009


I had hoped to spend some of my last day at the Monastery of the Caves a quite famous monastery in Kiev based on as the name suggests some caves used by the early monks to live in and now used as a repository of mummified bodies of monks .The complex also has a magnificent Cathedral .However it is the only time my Lonely Planet Guide let me down for despite following its guidance I could not find how to get there. So I spent my time reliving some sites in the Centre including the surprisingly small Dynamo Kiev ground.
So to the Airport and again the Con artists!
I was looking at the board waiting to find out where to check in when the man stould next to me started to ask me about the security netting over my back pack. During telling him as to how it worked how much it costs and where it can be bought from I found out he was a 67 yr old New Yorker called Mike who was born in the Ukraine now involved in construction in Kiev. After some pressure I agreed to join him for a tea in the cafe while we awaited our flights to be called. We had no sooner sat down than another man started up a conversation initially in Russian .At this Mike became very glum and would not give my new "chum " any eye contact.I found the whole atmosphere rather strange and sat back to find out what was going on.
The dominant Russian took the conversation through football ,UK and Russian, then asked Mike what Americans do at weekend ,to which he replied bar b q and play gin rummy a strange reply I thought.What is the Gin game the Russian asked ,cards was the reply . I like cards he said I play a German game called Skat. Mike asked what that was and the Russian produced a pack of cards and started to write down the points system. At that a man on the next table said are cards and moved to join us despite an obvious lack of enthusiasm by Mike and the Russian. I could not believe what I was seeing it was like something out of a 1950s gangster movie.By this time I was starting to disengage ,for while the con men interested me, I didn't want to get too involved. You are not listening John the Russian said, no I said I have no interest in cards or card games .So why am I explaining this the Russian said I have no idea I replied, ask Mike. At which the younger guy said I am going then,Mike said he had to pay for his drink and the Russian said there is an old Russian proverb when the circle breaks the components are dispersed . He smiled and left. Clearly I must look a right mug !
The rest of the journey was uneventful B A did us proud the tube and West Coast Pendalino were very crowded but it was good to be home in Lancaster for 10 00.
I will do another blog on my thoughts on the trip in a day or two .
Love John

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