After a short flight, we landed in Kiev. Unfortunately, we had no chance to spend in the city more than 12h – in the evening we had a train to Lviv. For this reason we decided to use this time as efficiently as possible, so we started to explore the Ukrainian capital from the old town.
Monument of Yaroslav the Wise near the Golden Gate
It is worth mentioning the Poles’ contribution in the city’s creation. Until the independence of Poland, Kiev was dominated by the Polish population. Poles led there many lucrative businesses, including banks, shops, sugar factories, hotels, craft shops, bookstores and theaters. Also, the academic community was largely Polish, both among faculty and students. In these times of solidarity the Polish population was a strong stimulus for economic, scientific and cultural growth of the city. After the fall of the January Uprising, the role of Poles in the life of Kiev has been diminished, and after independence – Poles in Kiev ceased to play a significant role.
The first interesting fact which I came across in the Ukrainian capital was the metro. Stations have been renovated, and thus the beauty of these historic walls was enhanced. Each station looked uniquely. Unfortunately, only the old Kiev subway stations are so ornate – the new ones look completely normal. Stops Vokzalna, University, Khreschatyk, Arsenalna, Dnipro and Golden Gate owe their charm to the Kiev’s subway project, which was created in 1884! Unfortunately, due to various events, the first five stations were completed only in 1960.
Golden Gate metro station
Saint Andrew looks upon the industrial part of Kiev
Despite the stunning looks slightly different subway detail caught my attention, and more specifically – “tickets”. The entrance to the station is via automated gates, which are, as in any regular subway, opening in contact with the ticket. In most countries of the world the ticket is almost plastic or plastic card that you can recharge, but not in Kiev. When you make a purchase of one ticket at the box office, you get in return… a plastic token size of a twenty cent coin. The token, when thrown into the machine, opens the gates.
St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery
The charms of the old town
The first observation we made when exiting the subway was, that the facades of all buildings were renovated. The city almost smelled of freshness, thanks to Euro 2012. The first sights that we viewed along the way were the Golden Gate (and more specifically its reconstruction) and a monument to Yaroslav the Wise, the Grand Prince of Novgorod.
We didn’t miss St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery, Andriyivskyy Descent (where many craftsmen exhibited their craft) and St Andrew’s Church. But I will not spend too much time on writing about the monuments of the city, as it is widely available knowledge (one can read about it here). In addition we ventured into a beautiful street, which name I cannot recall, but I hope, that the photos will suffice 🙂
The above-mentioned street
The thing that interested me the most was, for example, the main street of Kiev (Khreschatyk), and more specifically: why is it closed? We asked about it an older lady. She almost answered us, that every Saturday and Sunday the street is closed so that residents can freely move across it. What does mean, that she had almost told us about it? That lady did not speak English. In contrast, she knew French very well, and a little German. I learned that as a young woman she traveled a lot, and that she has family in Poland. Even a lady whom I met in a booth with popcorn told me, that she has an uncle in Poland, who she would gladly visit.
When we finally felt hungry, we started looking for a place where we could eat a decent lunch. Much to our disappointment, every place we found was quite expensive – as befits the capital city. Luckily we found a bar, where we could eat for a reasonable price. Moreover, we were puzzled by one thing, more precisely: by a multitude of sushi bars. In addition, the bars were all full. For this reason, we decided to see if it is really worth to try the sushi in Kiev.
The place where we ate was full of guests. The prices on the menu – quite high, but we were not going to eat a lot: we only wanted to see at what level is the local product. We ordered miso soup and rolls. Both – wonderful! I have to say: better than in Poland. I say this being 100% sure, because after returning from Ukraine we visited the best sushi bar in our city. The difference in taste was to the detriment of the Polish bar.
However, the Kiev specialties are not just restaurants located in the city center. These are also dishes served in booths (good, we did not fall ill after eating them), as well as … McFoxy! This is a restaurant like McDonald’s and KFC, and it beats the creativity KFS in Zakopane*. In the menu you can find almost anything: chicken, burgers, ribs – a real mish-mash!
“Foksi-syet barbyekyu” 🙂
Although Kiev tempted us with its grace and we would gladly stay there a bit longer, we could not miss the train to Lviv – our first and, at the same time, last destination in the Ukrainian trip. Even though we already knew Lviv a bit, during the second visit we made some interesting discoveries. The most intriguing one was chocolate-flavored…
* Once upon a time there was a restaurant in Zakopane (Poland) called KFS… It had in its menu exactly the same food as KFC, but under different names, and it was delivered to every place in the city. Of course, KFC lawyers became aware of its existence one day. What exactly happened to it afterwards – still remains a mystery.
It is wonderful to eat some delicious sauer tomatoes after a load of chockolate 😉
- McFoxy Home Page (English written in the Cyrillic script is beautiful!)