So we did go out into the city and I did take lots and lots of pictures. I am also slowly beginning to discover that Ukraine is the country of paradoxes.
We spent Tuesday morning taking care of logistics: cell phone, internet connection (where this post is coming from!), train tickets, converting money from dollars to hryvnia, etc… In the afternoon, after meeting with the head of a foundation that might bring good news to the project (more details on that coming up later), I finally got a “tour of Kyiv”… by land and by boat. I found the city to be extremely diverse. I discovered that there are basically three sorts of neighborhoods: old town, soviet era and post-soviet era. I must say the old part of the city was my favorite.
We took a stroll along the neighborhood of Kyiv-Andriyivsky-Uzviz where we passed by the beautiful old church of St Andrew (hence the name of the place). On both sides of the sidewalk people were selling all sorts of touristy/traditional items like Pysanky (famous Ukrainians Easter eggs), Russian dolls, etc…
I also discovered very interesting street signs in Kyiv. Although I’m not a big connoisseur of street signs (after all I’m Lebanese), I am positive that those are a specialty of the region.
We then met a friend of Olia who took us for a tour on the Dnipro river. We passed by the Vydubytskyi Monastery that was established in the 11th Century and whose name rightfully means “to emerge from water”. The legend has it that the Grand Prince Vladimir the Great of Kiev ordered the wooden figures of Perun (the Thunder God) and other pagan gods dumped into the Dnipro River during the mass Baptism of Kyiv. The disheartened Kyivans, though accepting the baptism, ran along the Dnipro River calling for the old gods to emerge from water. Accordingly, the area down the river stream where Perun emerged was named Vydubytskyi.
We also passed by the Motherland Statue, a 62 meters tall titanium statue that was built by the Soviets during the Communist era as a WWII memorial.