Kiev: Travel Debrief
Usually, on the last day in a particular location, we sit down and ask a few questions to help ourselves to process our experience. We use the same 12 questions for every country so we know what to expect and can be thinking about it.
WHERE DID YOU STAY? DID YOU LIKE IT?
As this was a kind of last minute trip and we were mainly looking for something affordable within walking distance to the city center. We ended up staying at the Podilsky Hostel in private room. It was nothing fancy but worked fine for a short trip. I didn't love it but I feel like if there was a rug or something to cover the hard floors it would've been much improved.
WHAT DO YOU ADMIRE ABOUT THE PEOPLE OF KIEV?
It seemed (at least in the neighborhood where we were staying) that everyone knew their neighbors. I regularly saw groups of all different ages just sitting outside in the common areas between buildings chatting with each other. It felt like there was a very strong sense of community.
SHOULD I KNOW ANYTHING BEFORE I VISIT?
Don't expect anyone to speak English. You might run into someone here and there who does but by and large people speak Ukrainian or Russian. This goes for menus as well so just be prepared to do a little bit more of the guess-and-hope-for-the-best game than you might normally.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT KIEV?
Kiev is full of grand buildings and buildings that used to be grand but have fallen into disrepair. I loved looking up the streets and imagining what the city was like in it's prime and how things changed during Soviet occupation and where things are headed now. I felt like there was a very prominent sense of history which was very intriguing to me.
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU DIDN'T EXPECT IN KIEV?
I didn't expect so many giant hills and I was really surprised by how warm it was. In April it was nearly 90 degrees which I was not at all prepared for wardrobe-wise .
WHAT WERE THE TOP THREE THINGS YOU SAW IN KIEV?
1. The St Andrews incline lined with artists, vintage finds and souvenir sellers
2. St Michaels bright blue monastery with its golden domes, charming gardens and murals
3. The entire St Sophias complex.
WAS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU DIDN'T GET TO DO BUT WISH YOU HAD?
There are three things actually. There is a traditional village that you can visit to see what agricultural/village life was like in Ukraine. You can see their cultural dress and try traditional foods, it looked like a lot of fun. Secondly, there is a huge statue called the Motherland Monument that is a touch controversial but I would've loved to see (it was a bit too far for us to walk to). Third, the deepest subway tunnel in the world is in Kiev and I thought it'd be fun to go down there and check it out.
DID YOU HAVE ANY EXPERIENCES THAT SHOULDN'T BE MISSED?
St Sophias was absolutely incredible and Michael's Cathedral With The Golden Domes was also beautiful. You could easily see both in a day since they are only a couple block away from each other.
IF YOU COULD BRING HOME SOME CULTURAL IDEA, CUSTOM OR FOOD FROM KIEV WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I have never seen a city with so much ice cream and coffee readily available at all times. There were oftentimes 2-3 coffee kiosks or windows on a single block. I never found any that had gone out of business so I can only assume that people must be consuming a huge amount of coffee and ice cream on a regular basis. Thats certainly something I can get behind.
DID YOU HAVE A FAVORITE FOOD IN KIEV?
We lucked out and happened to be in town at the same time as the Made In Ukraine festival so we got to try lots of great regional foods. I loved the stuffed tomatoes and the girls couldn't get enough of the corn on the cob smothered in a creamy cheese sauce. Judging by how often we ate them (basically every other day) I would say the pastries from our local bakery ranked high on the list. If I had pick one amazing think though I would say the crepe with poached and brûléed apple with almonds, caramel sauce and creme fresh from Madame Josy's was our overall favorite.
WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT YOU DISLIKED IN KIEV?
Kiev is not really a city that is great for strollers (particularly a giant double stroller like ours). So we couldn't use the subway system at all and had to get a good deal of help getting to go in and out of shops/restaurants/the funicular because they all had stairs. I think it wouldn't have been too big of a deal if Johnny had been there to help lift it but since it was just the girls and I this time around it was a big obstacle.
DO YOU THINK YOU'LL VISIT AGAIN?
Yes, I would love to bring Johnny to visit for a long weekend sometime!