We had a really wonderful, touristy weekend. This post will be long and picture heavy!
I wanted to hire a tour guide on this trip. While I’m fairly decent at being a self-tour guide, thanks to the internet and books, I could see the benefits of hiring someone as well. I heard Tourguide Kiev was highly recommended. When I saw a family post about their recent tour in both English and Russian, I knew she was the one.
We walked by St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery on the way, where this man was playing a bandura. We gave him some money and took his photo.
We met Helen from Tourguide Kiev at the Maidan. She started our tour off with a recent recap of the events of the last couple of years, including the protests at the Maidan. Helen did a bit in English, then explained it in Russian to Lyuda, back and forth.
Then, we headed up the hill, visiting Prince Volodymyr, who overlooks the Dniper River, and learning a bit about him.
We walked through St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery, where we tried to stick coins on the dried up fountain. If the coin sticks, you are free for the day. If it falls, you need to stay and pray. We also bought some beeswax lotion from the monks. They had a little stand selling honey, and other bee-related products.
Helen and Lyuda being goofy.
We walked down by St. Sophia’s, and then stopped in a little cafe. Helen had a drink that she wanted us to try, called the hot pitch. Chocolate, coffee, cream and walnuts lit on fire.
Next, we hopped in Helen’s car and went over to the museum of microminiatures at the Pechersk Lavra Monastery. Artwork that you need a microscope to see. You can check out this artist’s work here.
We walked around Pechersk Lavra a bit, including into one of the church services, but we hardly scratched the surface there. Lyuda has a lot of respect for the Orthodox church, and I admire that, especially when she’s in the company of two clueless Americans.
Lastly, we headed by the World War II museum, and the giant Soviet statue Rodina Mat.
Helen had lots of silly ideas for photos.
We finished off our tour at the Rodina Mat. I mentioned that she didn’t need to drive us all the way back to our apartment, as we wanted to get dinner first. Dinner! Oh, she knew just the place. She dropped us off at the Very Well Cafe… Lyuda and my mom both got chicken, mashed potatoes and tomatoes and I got pesto ravioli. We all took the first bite of our food and say “mmmm, yes. WOW.”
After we were finished eating, we walked by the House with the Chimeras, and then headed down towards Khreschatyk. As we got close, Lyuda said “is there a concert?” In fact, there was. Khreschatyk is closed to car traffic on weekends, and on this particular day, there was a stage in the middle of the street. We just danced and laughed and had a wonderful time.
This man in the greenish jacket was probably about 40, but could really bust a move.
We ended our night dancing and laughing and having lots of fun.
I had a couple of things I wanted to do, but we were planning for a slower day. We decided to take the metro to the Hidropark stop and visit the Museum of Miniature Ukraine.
This lady sat on the corner of our street the entire weekend, with many street dogs tied up. Lyuda translated the sign, “Help the homeless dogs and cats. Thank you.”
Lyuda wasn’t so sure about this whole Metro thing at first, but once she saw that I knew what I was doing, she was okay with it. On one of the escalators that takes you deep down.
The Museum of Miniature Ukraine was quite easy to get to from the Hidropark metro stop. It was just a short little walk on the island, which seemed like a rundown version of Coney Island or Gorky Park– there is an amusement park, swimming beaches and other things to do.
Above, there is a picture of Lyuda in front of the real Rodina Mat statue; here she is with the mini version.
Here’s the mini version of Maidan. You can tell it’s not the real thing because it’s not busy enough.
This is Donbass Arena. We drove past it every day on our way to visit Reed and Lena. Simpler, happier days in Donetsk.
We often drive by this church, and I had been wanting a good photo, so unique.
As we walked out, someone found this coin. Aaron didn’t think that coins in an amount this small existed. Here you go, Aaron.
We grabbed a quick lunch at the food court of the Globus mall under the Maidan, a good compromise as we all could get what we wanted. Lyuda chose McDonalds and my mom and I went for Ramen Burger. My mom tried the burger with the ramen patty, while I just got some noodles with vegetables.
My last idea for the day was to go to the big “hipermarket” Ashan. I shopped at a smaller Ashan in Donetsk, and I’ve been to this large one in Kyiv twice. There were many things I couldn’t find in the smaller Kyiv “supermarkets”, but Ashan has it all.
Today, we had another two hour drive up to Lyuda’s region to apply for her passport. Fortunately, things went smoother today, and all of her passport paperwork is in for processing. They expect we can pick it up on Monday. If all goes smoothly, we can go home around the middle of next week.
When we got back in the late afternoon from our little roadtrip, we were all feeling a bit worn out. We spent the rest of the afternoon on various devices, and only headed out again for dinner. We went to Pizza Celetano, a popular Italian chain. We struggled through ordering, and were nearly done with our meal with a couple walked in and said “English menus?” We shared bug-eyed looks and whispered, “did they just say English menus??? They have English menus???” That would have made our dinner much easier!
When we were finally ready to leave, it was POURING rain outside.
Some ducking under awnings, and running into a small shop, we were able to dodge most of it and make it home, only minimally wet.
As you can tell, we are mostly enjoying ourselves here. So much to explore and experience in Ukraine. On the other hand, I’m glad to have the end in sight and a reasonable idea of when we can return home. We’re looking forward to being all together as a family!