Kiev and Ukraine(04,06,07)
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Walking arond the city you find a log of histoic sites. Gold covered churches St. Mykhaylivska (Michael's) Church, St Sophia's Cathedral od St Andrew's Church (Ukrainian: Андріївська церква;) but also modern points of interest like th Independence Square . Kiev is one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe, dating back to the 5th century. As of 01-05-2005 no visa are required any more for western tourist entering the Ukraine. The airports have been updated to the western procedures. On my first entry in 2004 it was still the Soviet style procedures, although I was handed a colorful landing card in the aircraft, that was full of commercial adds, and I was tempted to refuse it. Nowadays this is a normal form and is the only thing to fill in. Although the capital has allot of western influence it is not New York or Paris. Since the fall of the Soviet Union two classes have developed: The rich and regular citizen. Much of the tourist infrastructure is priced for the rich rather then for the western tourist. Hotels with western standards have exclusive price tags of 150 to 500 USD. But surprisingly you find large old soviet style hotels at Khreschatyk in the cities center above the Globus shopping center which still charge 65 to 100 USD per night. Here you can feel how people lodged at Soviet times. These rooms have a simple interior a small bed (1.8m) a soviet charm bathroom with calk and worn down sine and shower. No air condition but you also could not open the window, and at the hallway sits a old lady, the ..., which controls who comes in. For breakfast one gets an orange juice, just bread and tasteless coffee.
Kiev> Actually Kiev is quite pricey. And state prices continue to rise enormously. Often better then getting a hotel is getting a Kvatira( a flat). Still prices range here from 50 to 90 exclusive flats or one you find in the English speaking web. There are also Russian speaking ladies offering flats at the central train station. Cheaper flats are 200 UAH per night.
A little further down the Khreschatyk towards the river there is a large Monument in form of a rainbow. Below are some stature dating from the communist area and some refreshment selling stands and attractions. Here you have a nice view on Kiev and the Dnipro river. There is the amusement park at the RAINBOW where one can enjoy a beautiful view on Kiev. In one of the museums I saw a young lady typing a poems she liked into her mobile phone - quite some effort.
Cathedrals and Churches
One of the attractions of Kiev is the many well resaturated churches with golden roofs. Right at the center there is the blue and white colored St. Sofia's cathedral on 500 meter further St. Michael's Church Complex. It has a nicely painted wall and is popular with freshly married couples.
Flee Market in 2007
If you continue near Mykhailivs'kyi monastery to the north into Volodymyska street you find a nice flee market. Among other things you one can buy and variety of excellent paintings, newly fabricated Soviet souvenirs and original medals from Soviet Union, Matryoshka dolls (матрёшка), hand craft decorations, Ukrainian flags and a number of military accessories like flight suits, space and fighter jet helmets and hats, aircraft instruments. Paintings are quit nice a large DIN-A2 sized painting costs about 750 UAH nicely framed (150 USD) and 700 UAH (140 USD) without frame. For a invoice (documantation for customs) and extra 20 UAH (5 USD) may be ask. You are offered a variety of military fighter jet helmets. The latest model the ZSh-7 Soviet Flight Helmet, developed in the 1980's and still used to present day is quite rare. At one stand the seller wanted 1000 UAH (200 USD). I wonder how much trouble you would get if the catch you at the customs during exiting the country? The market is all week present, also individual sellers, which speak sometimes a view words English, are present only part of the week. If you continue it goes quite steep down hit one of the oldest and historic streets of Kiev the Andriivs'kyi street. It passes the green roofed Andreevskaya Cathedral.
Hidropark in June
The Hidropark is an entertainment and beach resort located in the middle of the Dnipro river. You get of the red metro line at the station with the same name. It is naturally quite popular with the population. There are lots attractions, play courts for ballgames, beach and restaurants and food stands. My friend ask me to try some drink that was filled from a trailer tank and called Kwast. Knowing the local drinking habits I thought it must me some kind of beer. But it produced from grain and is none alcoholic. It was quite undrinkable and my friend said that it is delicious if served cold. We had a Shashlik spit with potatoes which turned out rather pricey but was delicious.
The Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra Complex
It is certainly worth a day to visit Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra Complex. It houses numerous of museums, churches and religious buildings. The large bell tower has numbered stairs . If you master them you are rewarded with a nice view over the areal.
Khreschatyk is the central street in Kiev and passing the famous Nezalezhosti square witch is covered by the famous five houses one one side and the Nezalezhosti victory monument placed on the other side of the Khreschatyk. It features Kievs most famous shopping mall, the Globus, that forms a round shape around Nezalezhosti monument. It has and usual western kitsch to sell and many people visit it like a museum because of the high prices. On the other side we have the five building and place with fountains. The underground has many cafes and piazzas fast food and many sell women stuff, and photographers offering their service. On weekends the Khreschatyk street is closed for traffic and people come together having couple of beers of beer. There is the CENTRALNI MAGAZIN, the central supermarket. It opens like most supermarkets between 9 and 22h. On Sunday the communist where demonstrating.
Public Transportation - Metro
Riding Metro is most easy, but only of you can read Cyrillic: You buy a giton for 0.50 UAH near the entrance barriers, insert it an pass the barrier. You can go where you like. The trains go often - during the day every 2 minutes to 1:00 a.m. were they go every 8 minutes. The are three lines, which cross at three stations in the center which form a triangle. Stations are announced and written in Russian/Ukrainian only.
Known as DN-SP on the train time table, Dnipropetrovsk is 660km from Kiev, and was a closed city in the USSR producing missile and is a main metal production in Ukraine. The two way first class trip with the Express-train takes 6:45 hours and costs 212 UAH (42 USD). The first class adds annoying TV program of 80th Russian films in the six seat compartments. It has 220V supply for mobile phones (and Laptops?) Otherwise the trip was uneventful. I walked down the Karla Marxa avenue a two lane street with a green strip in he middle and is the central street of the downtown which extents to the Dnjepre river. It has lots of modern shops, old style shops and supermarkets. Supermarkets are open at least to 23:00 h. It is enjoyable to walk.
I was searching the Astroria Hotel (No 66) that was mentioned in the Lonely Planet Guide Book for 55 USD a night. It is quite difficult to locate as the streets lacks house numbering with just every kilometer numbers mentioned at the cross road. Anyway it is now a high priced hotel with prices starting from 660 UAH (122 USD) . Staff and taxi drivers did not want to help me to find another hotel, so I stayed at the neighbouring Astoria-Lux (No 66a) which had with 780 UAD the cheaper rooms available. It was a quite nice, warm and sunny spring day. I took the tram back. One can by a ticket in from the conductor inside for 0.5 UAH (0.1 USD). The is a simple flee-market every day which just seems to sell overpriced paintings.
I turned right toward the river. The are modern western style shopping mall called EUROPE and MOST. Next to the MOST is a Internet cafe where you get one hour for 5 UAH (1 USD). In the night there where singers and may people enjoying the singers on the Karla Marxa street along with a couple of beers. Next morning I got a map and yellow pages in the hotel and reserved a room in the Dnjepropetrovsk hotel. This is a old Soviet style hotel. My room faced the river had wooden floor and carpet 2 smaller beds and a fridge a nice bathroom - every thing with soviet charmer but it was very nice and enjoyable - the best hotel I had. An the 285 UAH (56 USD) are not to top either. On Wednesday morning I got a taxi to the train station for 17 UAH (3.4 USD) and went back to Kiev.Greetings from Kiev
Behind the central train station are deparing a number of busses. There are also busses to the Borispol airport. One office large bus and a smaller mini bus are available. One trip cost 22 UAH (4.40 USD) on both type pf busses. The bus departs twice per hour and need 40 minutes to reach the airport One can also get a taxi which costs 100 UAH (20 USD).