I had a rubbish first couple of hours in Kyiv, bumping into some of the most unfriendly people I’ve ever met whilst travelling. But I’m certain that it will get better.
I arrived at the central train station and struggled to find signs for the metro. When I eventually found it after asking for directions, I ended up in a horrible queue to buy tickets. I have never experienced such a pushing and shoving mob like my first Kyiv Metro station except at a festival. The crowd was even outside the station, shoving to get in and all pushing past to get to the front. It was such a nasty experience having to stand there for 20 minutes being pushed around with my backpack.
I had absolutely no idea, because there aren’t any signs and it isn’t at all obvious, but you can pay with a contactless credit or debit card at one or two of the turnstiles at each station.
Each ride on the metro costs 8 Hryvnia (UAH) which is around £0.23. There are three metro lines across the city and a couple of transfer stations in the city centre.
I went straight to Ballet Hostel, near Independence Square and left my bags because it was too early to check in. Then I went straight back out for a wander and I found a nice looking cafe and ordered a cappuccino and a brownie for 90 Hryvnia (£2.55).
Then I walked for about 45 minutes through a nice area of Kyiv to the train station to wait for Adam to arrive. I ended up sheltering from the sweltering heat in McDonald’s. Then I moved outside and got rudely scooted off a bench by a girl who then got shat on by a bird. Cosmic justice.
Adam’s flight was late and then the baggage took forever to arrive so by the time he arrived at the station using the 100UAH shuttle bus, it was too late to make the 4pm walking tour. We took the metro to the hostel and checked in and then explored for the rest of the day.
The metro in Kyiv is really remarkable – when you are on the escalator down to the track you can sense that this metro system is incredibly deep and I later found out that the Arsenalna station is the deepest station in the world!! I videoed both escalator rides into the depths and genuinely, each of the escalators would have been the longest one I’ve ever been on.
We visited the St Sophia Cathedral and saw the pretty colourful bell tower with the golden dome, then we crossed over the square to see St Michael’s Monastery.
In the square outside the monastery there are three statues and one of them I think is the most noteworthy – the one on the right depicts Cyril and Methodius, the inventors of the Cyrillic alphabet.
St Michael’s is a stunning place; powder blue painted walls, white columns, beautiful frescoes and more gold domes than you can shake a stick at.
Inside the door, round to the left, there is a vat of Holy water and some metal mugs and people stop there on their way in to be purified.
Then you can walk around and be blown away by the gold and the paintings and the singing.
Afterwards we walked about 4km along a wide Stalinist boulevard to get dinner. On the way we stopped at one of the best bars in Kyiv! It’s a chain called Pyana Vyshnya (Drunken Cherry!) and they only stock one drink!! It’s a cherry liqueur from Lviv, 17.5% alcohol and served by the glass. It is absolutely fantastic! It’s a really popular place and people stand around at high tables in the bar or outside in the street.
I found this lovely article about the place by Kyiv Post
For dinner we visited Kuvshin, a Georgian restaurant in Politseiskyi Square (a small park). It was excellent! The food was really nice and the location and terrace were good too. The waitresses kept trying to make suggestions and add things to our order but we got exactly what we wanted in the end. Adam had never had Georgian cuisine before and I reckon this was a good introduction, if a little pricey for Kyiv.
We caught the metro back to Independence Square, near our hostel.
Early night required as tomorrow we head to Chernobyl.