Saturday, August 21, 2010

Kiev continued

One important thing I learned was that the Ukranian capital city is pronounced Keev, not Kee-ev as most Westerners pronounce it. It is a very hilly city, and my hotel the Rus was atop a fairly steep hill. Not a problem in summer, but I wouldn't like to try it in winter.

The hotel has a ginormous breakfast room and a large and tasty assortment of food--areas for fruit, for cereals, for breads, for cheese and cold meats and hot dishes. The hot dishes always included scrambled eggs and bacon and blinis. One morning I shared a table with a German couple who asked if I were German--very flattering. Ego boosts are necessary when travelling abroad alone, I find, especially in a place like Ukraine where the language (Russian) is so challenging.

For the most part I was able to walk from my hotel to the sights I wanted to see. I first visited St. Volodmyr's Cathedral, a beautiful yellow church topped with star-spangled blue domes. A service happened to be going on, and I heard some nice singing by a group of young people. This is one of the less historic churches in this very historic city, the cradle of Russian civilization. It was started in 1862 and finished in 1896, when the ill-fated Czar Nicholas II presided over its opening. Paintings by renowned Russian artists of the wanderer school cover the walls.

The next day I visited St. Sophia's, a walled enclosure that was formerly a monastery and is now a museum. It is up a short steep hill from the McDonalds on Independence Square. It is the oldest church in the city, dating from the 14th century. A turquoise and white bell tower marks the entrance, and inside green-domed white buildings include the church that holds the sarcophagus of Yaroslavl the Wise and many other historic artefacts. There is a fairly steep admission fee of 40 hrvynias, about 4 euros. There are plenty of shady benches where you can relax on the grass and escape Kiev's blistering summer heat.


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