About a month or so ago, my husband and I went on a city tour arranged by our CLO office. During the tour, we visited Taras Shevshenko Park. Unfortunately our camera was not functioning that day, so this past weekend we went back to take some pictures of the park and to visit some of the museums in the area that were pointed out on the tour as well.
Taras Shevshenko was a Ukrainian poet, writer, and artist. He was also an academic, political figure, and ethnographer. To read more about his life, check out this Wikipedia site
Taras Shevshenko Park has a restaurant, a few food and drink stands, and unique benches. Here are some pictures of the beautiful park:
There is a museum about a block away with Taras Shevshenko’s work, but we ended up going to a couple of other museums instead after walking around the park. The first museum that we went to was the Bohdan and Varvara Khanenko National Museum of Art. We did not take many pictures, but the artwork there was phenomenal. Ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Roman art was displayed, as well as very old Ukrainian art. Admission was less than $4 USD per person and worth every penny. As we entered the most beautiful sculpture caught our eyes:
After exploring the Bohdan and Varvara Khanenko National Museum of Art, we went to the Kyiv National Museum of Russian Art. The price of admission was under $4 USD as well, and had some really wonderful art. Below were some of our favorite art that was displayed in the museum.
The Community aliasing Office (CLO) offered an excursion to see the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, which is translated into English as the Monastery of the Caves. The excursion included a guided tour of the Monastery and local honey vendors, so of course I signed my husband and I up.
Dating back to the 10th Century, the Monastery has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also voted as one of the seven wonders of Ukraine. There are many buildings on the grounds, including quite a few churches, a Seminary, a bell tower, and catacombs. The grounds offer a nice view of the Dnieper River and the city as well.
Some of the grounds are undergoing renovation, and there are over 100 monks in residence. At one point there were over 1,000 monks! We were able to peek in several of the churches to listen to the beautiful music and see the Baroque architecture. We also got to see the catacombs and caves, which we had to light candles and to see. It was a cool experience. A side note, women are supposed to cover their heads in most churches here in Ukraine, so I was advised to bring a scarf. They also frown upon shorts, which ended up not being an issue because our tour was on an unseasonably cool day in August.
On the grounds there were also vendors selling fresh honey, which is a seasonal thing here, so we bought some. There were at least twenty vendors selling different types of honey- but our favorites were sunflower honey and buckwheat honey. The vendors allowed us to try so many types of honey that I was almost in sugar shock:). We even got to try honey that has the consistency of butter, which was AMAZING!! Of course we bought that as well.
Photography is prohibited inside the buildings, which is a shame because they are so stunning inside. Thus, here are some pictures of the grounds and our honey haul:
Our honey haul, I believe we got all this for around $12 or $13 USD.
Babushka is the Russian word for grandmother. In our apartment building, the front desk attendants are of a certain age that they could be grandmothers, so of course I call them the babushkas.
The babushkas take their job very seriously. They monitor who goes in and who goes out, and if they don’t know you, they will stop you and ask what you are doing here and who you are here to see. One afternoon I came home from running errands to a babushka who waved me down to let me know that two people from the Embassy came to visit earlier that day while I was gone.
One time a person was parked in our parking spot in the garage and we told the babushka, and she quickly took care of the matter. Another responsibility of the babushka is to give us our monthly utility bills. They also tend to the many plants that are in our lobby.
Of course most of our communication is non verbal. I use Google Translate and hand gestures the majority of the time. Somehow, we understand each other fairly well. With each week of language lessons I am able to communicate with them better. A few weeks ago I said good afternoon (добрий день), and I got the biggest smile from one of the babushkas.
The babushkas act as a grandmotherly figure to those in the building and dote on the little children who live in the building. I have heard stories of the babushkas making sure you are dressed properly in the wintertime, making sure everyone wears a hat and has a good warm coat and gloves on before they go outside, and I completely believe that the babushkas would do that.
I think each building should have a babushka. We would all benefit from babushkas in our lives.
On a glorious sunny 70 degree weekend day, my husband and I decided to go to the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War. The Memorial Complex is both indoor and outdoor, on extensive grounds covering quite a few acres.
We spent about two and a half hours there. The grounds contained two indoor museums and a long pathway that had sculptures and war machines such as tanks and helicopters. The grounds were truly beautiful and there were so many artifacts to see in the museums.
It was quite an informative and sobering afternoon spent learning about the war from the Ukrainian perspective. Admission to the grounds is free, however you pay small entrance fees to different areas if you want to get a closer look at different machines (such as the inside of a WW2 helicopter) or the indoor museums. The money spent was completely worth it as the items we saw were carefully curated and everything was so nicely done.
There was a guided tour in English that we encountered while in one of the museums, for those who want a more involved and informative experience. I highly recommend visiting this museum to anyone who comes to Kyiv.
There are a good amount of methods of transportation that you can use to get around Kyiv:
For 8 UAH (about $.25 USD) you can purchase a one-way tram ticket. Trams come approximately every 15 minutes and are fairly speedy. You buy your ticket on a tram and then use a machine on the tram to punch holes in the ticket to show that you are using it for your trip.
Also 8 UAH (about $.25), you can purchase a one-way Metro ticket. Kyiv’s Metro is one of the deepest metros in the world and is super fast.
Another option is the city bus, which I have not yet taken. I have heard that they run quite frequently and are faster than the tram.
Uber is super cheap here in Ukraine and I rarely have to wait more than 8 minutes for a ride. On average they have been around 4 minutes wait time for me. To get around town costs about 75-125 UAH (about $3-$5 USD) on average.
POV (A.K.A., your car):
We have a sturdy vehicle for road trips and weekend use. The issues with driving around Kyiv are there is rarely any on street parking (just make your own spot sidewalk parking) and the occasional parking garage has super tight parking spaces if they exist. Additionally, the streets are not in the best condition and you will be apologizing to your car for all the potholes that you will drive over. My advice, have very good shocks on your vehicle and bring whatever extra parts you anticipate needing replacement.
CLO (Community Liason Office) recently arranged a shopping excursion for new arrivals to post. This past weekend we went to several places- a Rynok (a food market), Epicentr (a cross between Target and Home Depot the size of IKEA) and Auchan (a hypermarket/supermarket that also sells some home goods, similar to Walmart).
The first place we went to was Zhitnii Rynok. The Rynok had two levels. On the upper level were Vyshyvankas (traditional Ukrainian embroidered clothing), and the lower level had food stands with fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, nuts and spices for sale. I bought a half kilo of dates (1.1 lbs) for around $4, as well as some veggies.
Outside of the Rynok were other fruit and vegetable vendors as well. I will definitely be back as there were so many options and other stores inside the Rynok.
Recently I took advantage of the gorgeous weather here in Kyiv and ventured out to see the Botanical Gardens. Located just off the Universytet Metro Station, the Botanical Gardens are free to enter, and offer a lovely escape from city living.
Locals were sitting on benches enjoying the sunshine, kids were playing (there was a playground there as well), and I can imagine it would be a great picnic location as well.
As you can see from the picture of the map, there are many different walking trails, and I only got to see part of the Gardens. I will have to go again to explore more!!
Lately we have been checking out flea markets and street vendors around Kyiv for unique items.
We found a pretty large flea market full of books, movies, dvds, clothes, and so on. Definitely worth going once for the experience but at that time there was nothing I noticed that screamed “buy me!” It didn’t help that we went later in the day when some of the vendors had already closed up shop. We ended up at a galleria across the way with a solid food court and some good shops where my husband and I got some deals, and then to an Epicentr a block or two away, so the day wasn’t a total loss.
Yesterday we stumbled upon a long row many meters long of street vendors on Andriivskyi Decent, which is a long, windy road here in Kyiv. There were so many unique, hand crafted items and artwork!! We will definitely be back there again.
One of the more famous landmarks of Kyiv is Maidan Nezalezhnosti. Translated in English, it means Independence Square, and is simply called Maidan by locals. Maidan is a hub for shopping, dining, and people watching in general. Underground is a shopping mall, and the square is a good central place to start to explore the main Boulevard, Khreshchatyk, or to go to Meriinsky Park. It is also not far from Golden Gate and St. Sophia’s Cathedral.
They have street performers, festivals and many other events occurring throughout the year at Maidan. After dark we have seen a water show from the fountain set to music. It is quite spectacular.
For more history and information, check this link out: