First view of the airport.
Going through customs and immigration control wasnāt too problematic, but it required filling out a form that no one told us about until we were at the control point. The guard wasnāt helpful at all, just stared us down till be walked away. Another passenger figured out that a form had to be filled out and we all did so and made it past the police control without any problems. I was a little concerned because my passport is full ā¢ just about out of space for more stamps ā¢ Iāll have to do something about that next time I go to the consulate.
Anyway, after immigration was customs with another declaration to fill out (kind of like going home to CA) and our luggage was x-rayed (also happened to me in Atlanta once).
Again, no problem of course, but all of the checking and controls makes me nervous. When we exited into the arrivals area our driver was waiting for us and took us to the office where we had to go and settle our apartment. There is a lot to write about that! But, itās worth a review and Iāll get around to that later!
On the way from the airport to the city, I was surprised by the enormous freeway! Reminded me a little of LA!
We had lunch at 3 oāclock at a place called ŠŠ£ŠŠŠ¢Š Š„ŠŠ¢Š (Puzata Hata) which was quite an experience! If youāre feeling adventurous and want to try a lot of different Ukrainian foods this is the place to go! I hope that the Cyrillic letters that I inserted are correct! Lunch was really good.
After that we headed to Khreschatyk Street which is a broad, monumental avenue. It was a nice stroll down that street taking pictures. Along the way we changed some money and got our first Hryvnas! Michal tells me that the name of the currency comes from the word for "neck" since centuries ago, money was threaded on a cord worn around the neck.
Crossing the Dnieper River.
When we reached Independence Square we headed up a street to get to St. Michaelās Monastery and Cathedral which is really beautiful with golden cupolas and painted blue. Outside the monastery grounds there is an enormous esplanade between St. Michael's and St. Sophia's. There is a monument that I liked seeing there - to St.
Olga, Princess of Kiev. It was built in 1913 and restored in 1996. I took a lot of pictures but couldnāt take any inside! Itās an amazing place. There was a service going on and the monks and priests were singing in incredible voices. The combination of the beautiful music, amazing architecture, and the smell of incense and beeswax candles created an intense atmosphere. I could have stayed there for hours.
Along Khreschatyk Street.
After the main church, we went inside another monastery building ā¢ a white one with a beautiful wooden roof. I didnāt catch the name of it unfortunately. There was also some beautiful singing in there. There are a few little shops around the monastery selling icons and other religious articles.
Some of the icons are really beautiful. We looked at the things for a little while but then left the monastery and went to a little terrace cafĆ© between St. Michaelās and St. Sophiaās for something to drink. We made friends with a little bird there who came and sat on the back of a chair and eventually onto a table to look for some crumbs.
Along Khreschatyk Street.
It was too late to go into St. Sophia's Cathedral, we'll save that for tomorrow, instead we headed towards the National Opera of Ukraine. The building is pretty, and I take a few pictures. The Opera House was built from 1898 to 1901. Just a block away from the Opera we saw the Church of the Annunciation which is both a church and a fortification.
It is originally from the 11th century but looks like it has been rebuilt and restored not too long ago. At one time, this was the main entrance to fortified Kiev.
Along Khreschatyk Street.
We wandered around the area, looking at some fantastic buildings, including some of the University, until the Sun started going down. Then we headed back to the office that was renting us the apartment that we were staying in. The whole issue of the apartment really deserves a review which I will write! The people in the office couldn't speak much English, but we could tell that something was amiss when we got there. It turned out that the people who had been staying there before us had left very late and the place still wasn't cleaned up. Instead of just telling us this, they kept on stalling for about an hour.
Eventually they sent us to the apartment - quite an experience trying to find the place (I think the guy tried to make it a little more difficult so that we'd give the cleaning people a little more time!). Eventually we got there - again, the subject of a review! It was interesting, because the building itself and the stairway led us to believe that we were in for an unpleasant surprise, but when we got inside it was pretty fancy - about 200 m2 and, I think, prepared for people coming for wild times! Anyway, the place was nice, but a complete disaster - whoever had been there before had left a terrible mess. The cleaning lady looked like she didn't know whether to clean or just walk away! She was also concerned about how late it was and if we were going to be upset or anything. What's the point in getting upset? We told her not to worry - that we'd go out to dinner and that we'd be back late. She gave us a key and we left. When we did get back - later that night - the place was just fine.
A church close to our apartment.