Last day in Kiev.
I woke up with a start at 8 a.m. thinking that it was much later, when someone opened the apartment door. I got up, showered and dressed quickly. Turned out that Michal had been up since 6 and had already been out and about • to have a coffee and read a newspaper. He had to settle for another coffee when we were ready • at the same place we had been to before called “софе хоУз” • Coffee House! There were a few final things we wanted to see before having to leave for the airport at noon. So, we had a coffee and then headed back up Khreschatyk Street to Independence Square and up to St.
Michael’s Cathedral. On the way we noticed a funny metallic figure of a naked guy looking in a shop window. If you walk by quickly without paying much attention it looks like there's really someone there.
We went in to St. Michael's again, for a moment. I like the atmosphere in there with the smell of the candles and incense and the monks’ singing. It is a peaceful place. At a little gift shop there, I bought a couple of souvenirs. [I’m not sure what I’ll do with these things when I get home, but I’ll figure something out • some of my Spanish friends call such things “pongos” from ¿Dónde lo pongo? ;-) ]
After St. Michael’s we walked through a very old section of the town with stone paved streets. It’s called ПОТІЛ • Podil (I hope I got the Cyrillic letters right).
It is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Kiev and is the home of many important monuments. One of the streets there, leading up to St. Andrew’s Church on Andriyivska Hill is lined with stalls where you can buy all sorts of things, including Ukrainian souvenirs. We decided to check that out after visiting St. Andrew’s Church. This Baroque church is magnificent. It was built from 1747 to 1754 and was designed by an Italian architect who served as Russian Imperial Architect. His name was Bartolomeo Rastrelli. The church is really beautiful, both inside and out, but especially it’s exterior. Perched on the top of Andriyivska Hill it looks like a jewel.
Nice picture of St. Andrew's - this one isn't mine but it gives a great idea of what the area is like.
According to our map, there are a lot of interesting things to see nearby, so we walked down the other side of the hill and saw some more interesting sights before heading back up the hill to check out what was for sale in the stalls.
The cobblestone street that we walked down is very picturesque - called Andriyivski Uzviz, it's apparently a popluar place to visit galleries, museums, restaurants, and, of course, to buy souvenirs! I found a cool Matryoshka doll while waiting for my friends. (I checked on the spelling there guys!) Once we’d all had enough of looking at stuff, bargaining and eventually buying… we headed back to the apartment. Our driver would be picking us up in about half an hour and we had to finish getting our suitcases together.
The trip to the airport was quick and we were pretty early so we had a snack there. The airport is an interesting place in itself. Full of hundreds of people, small, crowded • and with many things to look at. I was surprised that you can’t pay with a visa card in a lot of the little shops selling stuff at the airport • cash or nothing.
Another thing to be aware of is that many places will tack on an additional amount to what you have to pay if you pay with a credit card and American Express is the most expensive of all. At the official duty free store, there was no problem, so I got rid of my last hryvnas buying a decorated egg and a refrigerator magnet. The burocracy getting out of the country wasn’t too bad, but I was surprised to have to show my passport three different times • for immigrations, customs and, I think immigrations again. Actually four times because they check it as you’re getting on the plane. Once again we were joined by many of the Spaniards living in Warsaw! The flight back went quickly. I hope to go back to Ukraine some day, it’s an interesting place to visit and I’d like to see more. I don’t think a visit to Chernobyl will be on my “not to miss” list • I was surprised to see how many people were especially interested in going there.
Independence Square - on our way up towards the Cathedrals again.
What is the half life of Uranium anyway?
Finally we made it back to Warsaw. The line for taxis was incredible and bus # 175 was approaching so we decided to take the bus into town. This is a good, cheap way to get to the center of Warsaw!