Saturday, July 24, 2010

Kiev redux

This morning took a taxi to Andrews Descent, the oldest and bumpiest street in Kiev. Very glad I wore my tennis shoes instead of sandals. The merchants who line the street were just setting up. They sell souvenirs, art works, embroidery etc. This is a big hangout for the artistic set in Kiev, apparently.

Got slightly lost trying to find Independence Square, site of the Orange Revolution and many other events. Ended up taking the Metro for the first time--it costs just 1.7 hrvnias, and some stations are just as deep as those in Moscow. Since today is Saturday, it was not over crowded. It is a good, inexpensive way to get around, but you need to be able to read Cyrillic.

Also saw the Chimera House, a Jugendstil masterpiece just off Khreshatyk, the pleasant main street. Only saw the outside, as it seems to be a private residence or an embassy, based on the number of satellite dishes on the roof.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Kiev in Summer

This is my second full day in Kiev and it is gorgeous but blazing hot. Staying at Hotel Rus near the center, a big place but with pleasant though small rooms and reasonable prices, about $75 a night for air conditioned room and a lovely big buffet breakfast. It is within walking distance of a lot of sites, including St. Sophia and St. Vladimir Cathedral. The former dates from the 11 th century and is a lovely place to escape the heat on its green lawns with big trees. Admission to the church itslef costs 40 hrvinas, about 4 euros, but who can say no to such an historic place? St. Vladimir church is much more recent, but also lovely and there is no admission charge. Caught a service there yesterday afternoon.

Kiev is where it all started for Russia, in the 9th century when some wandering Vikings decided this would be a good place to live. Kievan Rus was the origin of the entire country, and Russian is still the main language in this part of a more or less independent Ukraine.It is a hilly city on the banks of the Dnieper River, much bombed during World War II and the scene of one of the most horrific Nazi massacres of Jews and others at Babi Yar. Yevtushenko memorialized it in a poem.

Looking forward to a cruise on the Dnieper River starting Sunday.