Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016 16:15
strangelover: (Україна)
[personal profile] strangelover
I'd been wanting to go to Kyiv for quite some time, spending time with a Ukrainian friend, seeing Kami's travels there and, of course, the fact that my paternal grandfather is Ukrainian. Then my favourite band announced a show there, and I couldn't refuse the opportunity.

Софійський собор

It's not a very long flight to Kiev, about two and a half hours, but due to a blizzard, we had to circle above the city for a while. When we finally landed, I dashed out to meet my lift and we crawled along the motorway as the snow continued to come down, and I practised my Russian, explaining to my driver how much I love the snow. He dropped me off at the apartment, I put my things in my room and immediately ventured out, as I was starving. It was still snowing very heavily, but I went to the nearby Pervak for dinner, while I didn't get quite what I ordered, what I did receive was absolutely delicious. And so were the various vodkas I tried! I had a quick look for a bar I'd heard about, but I had no internet connection and I couldn't remember the exact address. Besides, I was nicely warmed up from the vodkas, instead I grabbed a hot chocolate at Milk Bar, across the road from my apartment, before heading back and grabbing some sleep.


I woke up to lots and lots of snow. I understand that not everyone loves it, but I do, the huge amounts of snow just added to my excitement of being in Kiev. I headed out to get myself a UA SIM, a bargain at ₴50 for 2GB and free calls and texts, which I grabbed from an Allo in one of the many underground malls (which I accidentally happened upon while looking for a MTC shop... ). In a hilariously ironic situation, I had to explain, in Russian, to the guy serving me, that I didn't speak Russian, so could he help me set it up. In no time it was all sorted and off I went, down to Independence Square to look around, grabbing some tea and breakfast (cream cheese pancakes with honey), along the way. After that, I went up to St Sophia's Cathedral and walked around there for a few hours. I decided to make my way back to the apartment, stopping by the Bessarabian Market and supermarket, before arriving back to find that there was no electricity in the building. I was exhausted though, so took the opportunity to relax a little. Thankfully the power came back on shortly before I had to head back out, so I spruced myself up and went to the gig. I was stunned to see the huge line up that snaked around the sidewalk, and as I later found out, it was -8°C! I still managed to get in reasonably quickly, and although the upstairs of Sentrum was for different tickets, there's a few raised alcoves with stools, so I grabbed one of those and made myself comfortable, waiting for the show to start. The show was incredible, the energy feeding back and forth between IAMX and the crowd was great and I absolutely loved the show. Definitely worth travelling over for. I was tired, but buzzed after the gig, so grabbed a quick cocktail at Alchemist, before heading back to get some sleep.


In the morning, I struggled to get out of bed, not helped by the fact that my weather widget was telling me it was -6°C outside! I finally dragged myself out and went to Milk Bar for some brunch, before hopping on the metro, getting off at Dnipro station, which is outside and offers some pretty amazing views along the river. I walked down along the side of the river, crunching away in the snow. I missed my turn off, but found myself at the Memorial to the Legendary Founders of Kyiv, before doubling back and realising I had a huge number of icy steps to climb up, through the Pechersk Landscape Park. It was slow going, but I was enjoying the scenery, as it truly looked like a winter wonderland. When I got to the top of the stairs, I was greeted with the breathtaking view of the Motherland Monument, which made it all worthwhile, it was absolutely incredible to take in. I walked through the various monuments and took my time, as the sun started to set, lighting the sky up pink. I realised I should probably make my way, as the area wasn't too well lit, so, aiming for Pechersk Lavra, I walked through the parklands.

Києво-Печерська Лавра

I found the Pechersk Lavra complex, and took to wandering around. Sadly it was fairly dark and the caves had already shut for the day, but it was still beautiful to behold and a good excuse to make a return visit. I spent a good hour or so there, but next time I'll be sure to go earlier in the day. I then went for a walk through the Park of Eternal Glory, seeing the Ukrainian Genocide Holodomor Memorial Museum, the Unknown Soldier Memorial and also the lookout point, where I took some night shots over the river. Then I found the metro station, aiming for a restaurant I'd heard good things about, sadly it was fully booked, and I was exhausted and starving, but found a cute pub nearby, so grabbed dinner and a beer there instead. I did honestly consider going to Sentrum again, to see the second IAMX show, but I was completely knackered, so I grabbed a hot chocolate before heading back to the apartments (and having to climb the bastard stairs again).

Михайлівський золотоверхий собор

The morning started with coffee and a sandwich, before hopping on the metro and then the funicular, to skip out on having to walk up the steep hill to St. Michael's. I was quite surprised by how devout many young people seem to be in Ukraine, as they came in to light candles and kiss the icons. The grounds were beautiful, still covered in snow, though a little icy, so it was best to be very careful with your footing. After that, I had intended to go towards St Andrew's, but I mixed up my directions and ended up back at St Sophia's, before righting my wrong. The nearby park, at the top of Andriyivskyy Descent was lovely, it had a number of small little memorials, as well as the alleged first Linden tree planted in the city. The legendary markets of Andriyivskyy Descent were a little bare, as the weather was terrible (even by Ukrainian standards!), as the streets were slippery with ice and difficult to walk. But I found a nice bar, where I stopped for a cup of tea, and eventually lunch, as I looked over the snow covered hills. I aimed for another bar afterward, after walking the rest of the descent, but sadly it was shut, so I walked around a little more before going to the supermarket to pick up some things to take home - mostly vodka (which is ridiculously cheap), chocolates and poppyseed cakes. It was snowing again, so I enjoyed that for a little before finding the lift still broken at the apartments. So I grabbed something to eat, then had a pot of tea, before deciding on seeing a movie at a nearby cinema, rounding the night off with a glass of wine before climbing those bloody stairs.

Парк крещатый

My final day, so I packed up my things and as I set out the door, a good hour before my check out limit, I was chastised for checking out so late, as the room needed to be cleaned for the next guests. I was unimpressed. However, I'd organised my lift to the airport to collect me from the apartment and wanted to leave my suitcase there, as I still had a good few hours before I had to leave. I made my way to a varenyky restaurant, where I had my favourite meal of the trip - a pot of local tea, some borscht and some chicken and potato dumplings. It was delicious, as well as extremely cheap! After lunch, I headed over to Zoloti Vorota Station, which is a beautiful metro stop, then walked around the Golden Gates, down to Independence Square and then up to the People's Friendship Arch, which had a small amusement park and lovely views up the river. Then it was time for me to head back to catch my lift, I stopped by the Bessarabian Market and grabbed some caviar for a euro, then meeting my ride to the airport. Thankfully the roads weren't too jammed and I made it earlier than expected, which was just as well, as checking my luggage in took over an hour, due to queue jumpers and people trying to travel without identification. Urgh. I barely had time to grab some emergency vodka and board the plane home... I can't wait to come back to Ukraine, it was a seriously wonderful trip!

Full set of photos here on Flickr.

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