Its been a while since I last visited Kiev. Of course a city with many memories for me. Be it my time here with Yulia and her friends, my first business trip in 2008 after which i called for the coming economic crash or the 2012 boys trip to the European football championships where my friends Sean, Guelane and Hubert managed to destroy Arndt on the first night out (contrary to his reputation at the time). Its always been a welcoming city and this time was no different …
I arrived via Minsk on Monday and enjoyed an evening of catching up with Yulia and Inna. The last time we hung out together goes back a some way to NYE 2015 in Lviv – some great memories which we fondly discussed. There was also a new guest in the house – a young actress that doesn’t seem to digest samogon (local moonshine) too well as we saw on tuesday night when she arrived home on all fours after her premiere. Man was she drunk ;o)
Yanukovich residence: Tuesday the weather was on our side and we three made our way to a village 40mins by car north of Kiev (location). Idea was to visit the former residence of pre-Maidan revolution president Yanukovich. The estate is located right on the shore of the Dniepr river and its enormous! Electric vehicles for tourists and bike rentals at the entrance just prove the point. It boasts endless parks, main & guest residences, a zoo, a port, a collection of mainly soviet vintage cars, tennis, golf and football facilities and a lot more. We wandered around for 4 hours or so and even saw deers coming our way out of one of the many forests and no overly shy of people. Definitely worth a visit! Thanks ladies.
Swan lake (no 3 this year): I didn’t plan on seeing swan lake when i came here, but as fate had it was the only show on in the time i had. And i did want to see kiev’s beautiful opera house. So Tchaikovsky once more please (love it). Great evening!
St Sophia cathedral: On Wednesday weather didn’t treat us as well calling for some indoor activties. We decided to head to the center and visit the St Sophia cathedral. Quite impressive although i am not so keen on churches as much anymore after my pilgrimages in Spain & Italy and a visit to Jerusalem in 2015/16. Alongside old mosaics and frescos, some Ukrainian artist also created a portrait made of 1000’s of hand made Easter eggs – fascinating. Inna joined us again, as her interview scheduled for today had been moved. After the museum & church tour we headed for my favourite pub in Kiev – the metropole. Its a belgian styled pub and, naturally, serves belgian beer including leffe & chimay. Mmmhh … The evening we made a spanish one. No shortage of options in the local supermarket (different to russia due to sanctions). Jamon, manchego & rioja – ole! Не плоха!
Thursday was Chernobyl day. See Chernobyl: Trip back to 1986. Once back in town i headed for the supermarket where i met yulia in a pure coincidence. We figured to make this dinner italian themed – and I was to cook. It proved to be a nice atmosphere in the kitchen (e.g. alone) with some italian youtube classics running in the background while i got busy. Tasty!
My last day in Kiev started slow and quiet. Yulia was again flying somewhere around with Ukraine Airways. Inna made breakfast and eventually we headed for Arsenalno station with some spectacular gardens and panoramic views over the city in walking distance. We talked in russian throughout. It felt actually good and certainly wouldn’t have been possible last time we met. We rewarded our walking effort with a nice meal at a very traditional (be it touristic) Ukrainian restaurant nearby. Вкусна!
And then it was already time to go. I briefly saw yulia at the airport – she arrived, i left … ‘Thanks for flying with UIA‘ she said with a smile. Time to say goodbye and to get back to London after three month. Thanks Kiev!