A complicated but beautiful travel destination in Eastern Europe.
22.04.2011 - 25.04.2011 20 °C
Welcome to my travel report from my Easter holiday in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine!
Participants: As usual I went travelling with my lovely boyfriend, Jürgen, who are having a tough time being in a relationship with a traveladdict in another country. <3
Why Kiev? I miscalculated my Sweden trip, and got depressed by the thought of celebrating Easter alone in London. Both my boyfriend and myself are running out of money and were scanning the Internet for cheap airfares, and the second day of searching I found two cheap tickets to Kiev around the same time from Stockholm and London, and everything went quick. I've never been in Ukraine before, and I've heard that Kiev should be a really beautiful city, and I could also add Ukraine as country 38 to my visited countries list on De berejstes Klub.
When? Easter holiday 22-25 April 2011. This was a really nice time to travel to Ukraine, the weather was very nice and sunny, around 20 degrees.
To think of before travelling: If you don't speak Russian of Ukrainian languages, at least learn a few words in advance and memorize the Cyrillic alphabet. The people in Ukraine speak very little English or none at all, but the common hands-and-feet language works fine. On the tourist map we got, the streets were written so we could read out the names, but on the street signs they were using the cyrillic alphabet, so to locate ourselves was really hard. And don't drink the tap water!!
How to get there? We were flying with Wizzair from London Luton vs Stockholm Skavsta, and the price was less than £150 during Easter holiday. Unfortunately it felt like a charter flight with people applauding when the pilot was landing the plane (he was doing his job, and not even very good!!), but my fellow flightmates also were standing up and removing their luggage from the overhead lockers before the plane were stopping. Never in my life seen anything like that and that made me think if they never flew before and what else faults did they do?
Kiev Zhuliany Airport This is a small airport in the south of Kiev that Wizzair moved all their flights to. My flight was landing 10 minutes before Jürgen's flight and I've got out of the terminal in 20 minutes but had to wait 2h for him to pass through the very slow overcrowded passport control. There is nothing really to do at the airport and it's one of the most boring ones I've visited. On my way back they didn't even sell any drinks in the gate that wasn't alcoholic. Bad! To get from the airport to Kiev should cost you 100 hryvnia. In the flight magazine it was written 200 approximately, which I thought was a quite OK price, but on my way back he only wanted 100, so definitely go for 100!
The city of Kiev
I found many similarities between Kiev and Budapest, the capital of Hungary. Both have buildings in the same style and both are built on two sides of a river.
However I must say that it was much easier to get around in Budapest than in Kiev because of the cyrillic alphabet (I know, I know, I should have learn more before I travelled, my bad, but still). Kiev felt super duper Christian, there are beautiful churches everywhere in the town, and I totally love the style! The most famous is the St Sophia Church, see below.
To get to St Sophia Church up the hill, you can take the metro to Pochtova Ploschka in Podil and then take the Funicular (cable car) that was built in 1905 up the hill to a nice square. The view is fabulous up there and the price is only 1,50 Hryvnia (around 15p).
When I was looking for information on the internet on what to see and do in Kiev, every page said: go on a river cruise! So we did, it was cheap (40 hryvnia, £4) but it was totally useless. We didn't travel very far and the boat was very slow. And no guiding or anything. I don't recommend a rivercruise to people visiting Kiev. Use the hour on something more interesting instead. But what we did see during the river cruise was this:
Which we decided that we had to find! We had no idea what it was or where it was, but when looking at the map we had a guess at around what area it was.
On the Sunday we took the metro to Arsenalna, which is one of the deepest metro stations in the world, and it was extremely deep, with two amazingly long escalators. But that's how it has to be when you build the exit on the top of a mountain. When we finally climbed the escalators we followed the road to the left and we had a lovely walk through a park with several monuments.
After a while we found the cultural site we saw from the riverboat! It's called Kyiv-Pechersk and is a heritage site. Extremely beautiful place, especially now with the cherry blossom.
We just continued our walk in the same direction and finally we reached the statue which happened to be the war museum that I wanted to see. There are a few small museums, both indoors and open air museums with cars, helicopters and such, but our tips to you is to not pay 5 hryvnia to go here:
because it is really small and useless when you can't read Ukrainian language.
But you should definitely pay 10 hryvnia and visit the main museum in the statue:
Yes we do love posing with this statue! A weird thing was that they were playing some communistic music in the area around the statue/war museum. Again, visit the museum! Even if it's only in Ukrainian language there still is an interesting collection they have. And it's only £1 in entry fee! Wehoo!
I found out via help of the Internet that this beautiful building is the Opera House in Kiev:
There are many beautiful buildings and places in Kiev and here are a few:
This is from the High Street in Kiev on the Kreshchatyk street.
And some nice church gates:
On the Saturday during the Easter weekend there was some kind of parade going on at Kreshchatyk street.
The public transport is really great in Kiev, but it is hard to know where to get off, and know which direction your train is leaving. The cost for the metro is 2 hryvnia (20p) for however long distance you want to travel. The metro has 49 stations and more are one it's way. The town also has buses, trolleybuses, trams and cable car.
Drink beer in Ukraine
The Ukrainian beer was quite OK I must say! And the price was between 10-25 hryvnia at the bars. But there was a beer neither me or Jürgen liked and it was this one:
But otherwise it was really nice and we show our happy faces!! I also tried the Baltica beers I haven't had since I was travelling on the transibirian railway in 2008 and it was the only beer we could buy from the old ladies on the platforms. But it still taste nice!
oO I really liked the food! It didn't look so nice but tasted very nice! Nom nom nom! Kielbasa was extremely tasty sausage. Defintely recommended! The prices on food varied a lot from 30-225 hryvnia depending on which restaurant and what dish. Sometimes we felt it was very expensive.
Football - Dynamo Kiev
It would be sooo nice to watch a football game in Ukraine, but unfortunately we missed the opportunity and when we wanted to have a look at the arena we couldn't get in because we didn't have a ticket.
What we missed but you shouldn't
I'm a quite sad panda because we were too late to find a tour group to Chernobyl. I definitely wanted to see that, but well, next time! We couldn't find the Chernobyl Museum on the map either so we missed that too. But if you visit Kiev, don't miss it, you'll be as sad as I am for missing it.
I liked the weather around Easter, I loved the beautiful buildings and the great walks withing the green areas with a river view! That was really remarkable. But I did think it took to much energy to sort out simple things because the Ukrainian people in general were speaking very bad English. It will definitely help if you know some Russian before visiting Ukraine. But I do recommend a visit during spring time, and you should definitely go on tour to Chernobyl if you can, even if I can't speak for myself.
Thanks for reading!
Over and out!