National Day

Today, August 24, we’re in Kiev, where it’s the Fourth of July.  The hotel said they’d pick us up at the train, but we didn’t see them. We took the metro and when we emerged, there were whatever is Ukrainian for Blue Angels (Blue and Yellow Angels?) flying overhead, all the streets were packed with people, and the streets between where we were and where our hotel was were blocked off because of a parade.  After about an hour we were able to walk through the crowd and get to our hotel, where we chilled for awhile.  We did some late-afternoon walking around town, spending awhile at St. Michael’s Cathedral where some Orthodox service was going on with singers behind the iconostasis, the large wall in the middle of the church. Were they singing microtonally or were they just out of tune?  Either way, I should have brought my field recorder.  The bell tower had a museum featuring decades of Russian/Ukrainian history, climaxing in Stalin’s systematic destruction of the cathedral in 1937:  it was only rebuilt in 1990.  The carillon in the bell tower can be played by a live musician at a console, but it is also played by a computer every hour.  We stared at the mechanism, and realized that the console operates the clapper inside each bell, but the computer operates a separate clapper outside each bell.  Still no field recorder.

We had a delicious Ukrainian dinner at a touristy restaurant, and as we walked back to the hotel, the main streets were still packed with people celebrating.  There were lots of interesting drunk people to take pictures of.  We got back to the hotel a little too early: shortly after we returned we heard a short sequence of fireworks and cannon audible over the crowd.