Weekend Retreat

 The picture is a little grainy because it was so far away, but that's our hotel from about midway up the mountain.
The picture is a little grainy because it was so far away, but that’s our hotel from about midway up the mountain.

After eight busy weeks, we decided to escape Vinnitsa for a little while. Our team and some of the staff went to the Carpathian Mountains for the weekend. We got on the overnight train and spent a relaxing two days at a ski resort at the base of the mountain, where the hills reminded me of East Tennessee. There was a little bit of snow but mostly mud around our little chalet. 

We spent most of the time relaxing, playing games, or napping. Naps were good, especially after the night on the train. The beds there are not the most comfortable. Saturday afternoon we went on a short hike with the kids. 

On Sunday, we went up the ski lift. A very rickety, old, one-seated, scary ski lift. But we survived! And at the top of the mountain, we found Siberia. Well, sort of. It looked kind of like Siberia, or the North Pole, or Narnia, or anything else you can think of that is the ultimate cold location. Even the Ukrainians were cold. We took some pictures, looked around, found a nice cafe for tea and hot chocolate, and then came back as human icicles. 

Did I mention the wonderful tea and hot chocolate? Yeah, that was nice. We were almost numb when we found it, and we were so grateful. The little house was very Ukrainian looking and full of nice, handmade cups, paintings, and blankets. And a fire. That was lovely.

After dinner, we packed our bags and got on another train. Tetyana’s mother had dropped off a surprise package at the station for us, filled with a delicious Ukrainian treat! I don’t know how to even begin to spell it, but it was basically mashed potatoes wrapped in a crepe. We all packed into an empty sleeping room to enjoy. And in a typical Ukrainian fashion, it seemed like almost everyone had brought something to share. We had cookies, meat sticks, tea, and potato pancakes. It was a lot of fun and definitely one of my favorite memories so far!

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