Kiev

Friday 6 September 2019

This trip wasn’t meant to be happening for another month.

But a few months ago, BA cancelled the route from the end of September. And cancelled my flights. So instead of missing out, I rearranged to bring forward a few weeks instead.

It was an early morning to get to Heathrow for an 8am flight. To Kiev.

It’s a 3 hour flight, and a 2 hour time difference. So was 1.30pm by the time we landed. Already half the day gone!

They stamp passports here (which I still find exciting, as I always aim to fill mine up!)

We were picked up for the 45 minute drive into the city. Through countryside. Then through endless roads of concrete blocks of flats. And a cross the River Dnipro, into the main city centre.

We are staying right in the middle of the city, next to the Maiden Square.

After dropping bags, we headed out for a walk.

First stop, food. We got some lentil soup in a bread cup! Rather random. The shop was a little hole in the wall next to a small park. You would never find it unless you knew about it (I had found it on a blog earlier this week!). Called Soup Culture.

The park contained a large gate, the Golden Gate, which is a replica of the main gate of the 11th century fortifications of the city.

From here, down a few streets we reached the metro. The metro is cheap here – 8 per person (about 25p). You buy a little token, that you slot into the barrier and it doesn’t get returned to you.

The escalators were so long. The metro here is really deep. But not too confusing. As there was only one line, you just choose your side.

It was packed. Maybe because it was 5pm on a Friday. But we weren’t going far, only 1 stop!

At the other end, it was a really long escalator ride up. And then a bit of a walk along a main road. We ended up in a park, a war memorial, a view over the blocks of flats on the other side of the river, and a strange underground shopping area in an underpass. All rather odd!

Our destination was the Kyevo-Pecherska Lavra. A walled area containing a collection of monasteries. It was 50 (£1.60) to go inside the walled area.

It was deserted. Maybe we had just come at an unpopular time of day!

I walked up the bell tower. 170 steps, going round and round. Luckily it wasn’t narrow or too claustrophobic. Nice views across the city and across the gold domes of the church next door.

The church is Orthodox Christian. People were coming here to pray. Women all wear scarves to cover their heads.

The inside of the church was so gold. They are a big fan of gold here.

We caught an uber to the other side of the city. An area called Podil. Several vegan cafes here! But tonight we went to Kolo. It had good reviews. The menu didn’t seem too exciting. But the food was delicious – and presented very prettily. We had dessert, a local cafe with layers of pastry and cream. All really good.

Then got an Uber back to the area where we are staying.

In the evening, the fountains all around the maiden square become musical fountains. They squirt up in time to the music and are all different colours. Quite random. But it was rather popular as there were a lot of people around!!

Saturday 7 September 2019

We headed out at 11am (which really is 9am in England!). Up the hill toward more gold churches. Gold is a big thing here.

First church, St Sophia’s cathedral. This isn’t a working cathedral anymore, but is preserved as a UNESCO world heritage site. It was 50 to go inside the walled grounds, and another 80 to go inside the cathedral. A very confusing price list of about 20 different options.

We did go inside the cathedral. The walls are covered in frescos and mosaics with most of them being original from 1017–31, when the cathedral was built. The gold domes of the cathedral were apparently added later in the 18th-century.

When we came out, there was a protest happening in the large square. No idea what it was about. But all the people were older.

Just down the road was the next church. St Michael’s golden domed monastery. This was a working church – with people coming in to light candles. Again, full of lots of gold.

From here we headed to the Andriyivsky Uzviz. A street which winds up, then down a hill. Full of stalls selling mostly rubbish. But according to some websites an ‘atmospheric street’. It was mostly just busy and cobbled, so you had to try not to fall over.

At the top of the street was St. Andrews church. The last of the gold topped churches on our day plan! But this one is currently closed for renovation, so we couldn’t go inside.

For lunch we stopped off at a cafe called hum hum. The reviews on the internet are very mixed. But it was quite fine. A very millennial style cafe (pink, white and green with fluoro writing). They did get our order wrong, but it was still delicious!

The vegan cake shop around the corner was closed, shame.

We got the metro back to the main city centre. And walked through shopping streets back towards our hotel. To cross roads, there is often only an underpass. And these underpasses are all filled with tat shops. Selling everything from fake phone cases, flowers, shoe laces, drinks, Russian dolls. All kinds of random stuff. The underpass this time went a step further and was a whole shopping centre underground!

We had some ice cream from a small shop called umka. We got pineapple and blueberry. It was ok – acceptable ice cream, but not too amazing.

We headed back out in the evening for dinner. Rather than hassle on the metro, we just got an Uber. For £1.50. And a 10 minute drive.

We went to Literature cafe Imbyr. Another vegetarian cafe, but loads of vegan options. The food was really good. We had the local dessert again (nepolian). It was different to yesterday, but equally as good.

We ended up at the musical fountains again when heading back to our hotel. Even busier tonight!

Sunday 8 September 2019

All I managed to do today was get out of bed in time to head to the airport.

We needed to leave at 11am (which really is 9am English time). So I achieved nothing.

It only took 30 minutes to get back to the airport. And £11 in an uber! Ready for Te plane back home at 2pm.

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