August 27: Kiev

After a weird but okay breakfast at my hotel, I went to a metro station for the first time.  I’d done some research online so I knew that English signage existed (especially helpful in a place with a Cyrillic alphabet and where few people speak much English).  I was very happy to find that it was very east to navigate.  My research had also shown that MasterCard Paypass should work to access the metro even for foreign credit cards but I couldn’t get either of my MasterCards to work.  Luckily, the token machines were very easy to use.  It was actually probably better to use tokens than have many 20 cent charges; yes, that is the approximate cost of a metro ride in Kiev!  I found it interesting that quite a few things were actually cheaper here than in India.  I was also aware that many metro stations here are very deep but I was still a bit surprised with just how long it took to get down to the tracks and I wasn’t even at the deepest station!

I wandered around for randomly for a bit after I got off the metro and found my ultimate destination, the Chernobyl Museum, before I even tried looking for it.  I got there right when it opened so I had no trouble getting an English audio guide which are apparently in short supply.  The museum would have been pretty useless with the audio guide.  I spent close to an hour and a half there and I felt it was good preparation for my trip to Chernobyl in a couple of days.  It was obviously a bit depressing as the museum really made clear how many people had died or became sick (especially thyroid cancer) from the Chernobyl disaster.  It was also very clear that the government’s initial cover-up made things a lot worse.

Afterwards I bought ice cream.  I realized that the cone had a hole in the bottom and as I’m not exactly a quick eater this was an issue.  I later learned that this is normal here.  I really don’t understand why though!

I then did two free walking tours.  The first walking tour focused on history and stopped at a bunch of churches but only went inside one.  The interesting thing was that, with one exception, they were reproductions as the Soviets had torn down the originals.  One church (St. Michael’s) had even been a small concentration camp.  This tour also stopped at Landscape Alley, which is an area of colourful sculptures and a children’s playground.

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Landscape Alley

After this tour I found that the at least some of the maps are upside down as I followed the map and ended up in the opposite direction I’d intended.  Anyway, I still got to the meeting point for the second walking tour in time.  This tour focused on my recent sights including memorials to those who died in 2014.  We also saw bullet holes from 2014.  Everything in Kiev now seems totally calm but tourism numbers are still clearly down and quite a few people were apparently frightened by tanks used for Independence Day celebrations a few days prior.  There also appears to be a relatively heavy military presence and we had to view the House of Chimeras from behind a fence.  This tour also included some other government buildings (from the outside), very nice parks, and the People’s Friendship Arch.  The arch will probably soon been dismantled as Ukraine and Russia are clearly no longer friends.  Our guide was against this as she views it as part of history.  I later saw on the only English-language tv station at the hotel that young people tend to want Soviet history to stay while older people (who actually remember Soviet times) want these types of monuments gone.  It does sound like a lot of them have been dismantled in recent years.  By the end of that tour my feet were really hurting; I guess two tours in a day wasn’t the greatest idea!

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Memorial to some of those who died in 2014

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People’s Arch of Friendship

 

When I got back to the hotel I found that my feet were even more blistered.  My stomach hurt a bit and so did my head; the concert going on in the maidan certainly didn’t help.  Needless to say, I didn’t really do anything that evening.

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One Response to “August 27: Kiev”

  1. still have to read your earlier posts! my church prayers for Ukraine at every liturgy, things have been so difficult there….I enjoyed reading your blog post! thank you!

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