Monday, April 08, 2013

Kiev among European Bargain Cities

According to the Website, Kiev is one of Europe's 10 best bargain cities. Apparently Ukraine's currency, the hryvnia, is undervalued by as much as 50 per cent compared with the U.S. dollar, which means good deals for foreigners.
I visited Kiev in the summer of 2010 (the above picture of St. Sophia's Cathedral is from that trip,) and even then it was relatively cheap by standards of most large cities in Western Europe and in Russia. I paid around $70 a night for a room with enormous breakfast at the Rossiya Hotel, and food and public transit fares were reasonable.
Best of all, Kiev has yet to be discovered by hordes of tourists, so you can see its many attractions without being besieged by fellow travellers. The language can be a problem unless you speak Russian, but I found some English speakers and many people who tried to be helpful. Admission costs to attractions, which means mainly churches like the above which is now a museum, are modest by standards of Western cities. Kiev is a pleasant place to walk around, but be warned that it is built on hills.
If you happen to be interested, as I am, in the events surrounding the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, I am reading a very good book on the subject, Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski, a Polish writer. He was favourably impressed by Ukraine's chances of building prosperity and democracy at that time. It hasn't worked out as well as he hoped, but the country and its capital are still well worth a visit.


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