August 26: To Kiev via Paris

Taxiing literally took at least twenty minutes in Paris.  Luckily, getting through security et cetera didn’t all that long as I didn’t have tons of time between flights.  Of course, it wouldn’t have mattered if it took a while as we sat for quite a while after boarding waiting for  a large group of children to arrive.   There was a sign at the gate listing the languages spoken by the flight attendants: French, English, German, Spanish and Italian.  It seemed really strange to me that they wouldn’t have Ukrainian and Russian speakers working on the flight.

The airport in Kiev was really quiet.  It didn’t look like any other flights arrived anywhere near the same time as my flight.  After realizing that I had to use one of the “UA and EU Citizens” lines as the only other option was “Crew/Diplomats,” it took no time at all to get through immigration as the lines were pretty much non-existent in length.  The only thing the guy said to me was “Welcome to Ukraine.”  As usual, when immigration is quick my bag ends up being one of the last off the plane.  I’d arranged for an English-speaking driver to meet me but he was nowhere to be found.  So, I went to the taxi booth and the woman thankfully spoke excellent English and actually brought me right to a taxi which ended up being the only one I used that had a metre during my trip.  The driver didn’t speak any English but I ended up at my hotel without incident.

My first impressions of Kiev were not all that favourable.  There were a lot of very empty gas stations not far from the airport and after that there were some rather third world-looking apartment buildings albeit with nice murals on the side.  But as we crossed the river, everything suddenly looked so much better.  At that point, I started seeing gold-domed churches and it there were a surprisingly number of trees.

My hotel was right on the maidan (the central square) which was convenient.  I later learned that convenience came at a price (too much noise).  After a short break, I went on a walk in the area surrounding the hotel.  There were some English signs but there didn’t seem to be many tourists at all though there were an incredible of places to exchange money.

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The Maidan

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The other direction

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