When checking flights from Lithuania, the cheapest and most interesting connection back home was via Kiev. Instead of spending a couple of hours at the airport I chose a connecting flight with a 23 hour layover. That basically gave me a day to explore the capital of this very interesting Eastern European country.
Kiev is a great city full of exciting architecture, vibrant street markets and an interesting history. You can see the pride of Ukrainian people in their national colors, which are omnipresent throughout the city: the metro, the trolleybuses, the airplanes of UIA (the country’s national airline), street art paintings and lots and lots of other tiny details. Even the fences at construction sites are painted in blue and yellow.
It’s hard to tell the impact the conflict in Eastern Ukraine has on people’s lifes in Kiev. I briefly discussed this topic with my host, but one day is simply not enough time to get a full picture on such a complicated and multidimensional topic. When visiting one of the street markets, at least one fact becomes very obvious: Ukrainians don’t like Vladimir Putin. Besides matrushkas painted in all styles and colors (including MBL and NFL teams) and diverse T-shirt creations (from Hardrock Cafe Chernobyl to McLenin’s) the most common items are not very flattering depictions of the Russian president. You can find him on toilet paper or on fake credit cards spelling “golden” or “platin khulio card”.
In contrast to that there is still the People’s Friendship Arch in Cross Park on top of the banks of Dnieper river. It was initially erected as a monument to celebrate the friendship between Russia and Ukraine and is quite a weird sight given the current political situation. Right under it is a funfair game called “Angry Ukrainians”, I’m sure that’s just a coincidence…
From top of the park a 550 meter long zip-line allows you to get your daily adrenaline kick and cross the river at speeds up to 60 km/h with nothing more than a safety gear and a harness. For some crazy reason I kept this experience for my next visit.
Speaking of which, Kiev is a city worth visiting again (and again) and in my opinion one of the most underrated cities in Europe. It’s a real beauty to check out! It might be the situation in the eastern part of the country preventing a lot of people from going to Ukraine at all, but other parts are still
very safe (of course common sense needs to be used like everywhere else as well). For Western standards everything is very cheap and flight connections are good, frequent and inexpensive.
UPDATE, 1.9.2015: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34105925
Let’s pack your things an go!