Kiev

Time to restock the travel batteries between work. Back on the road again. Weeeey heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey.

One whole week in Ukraine. Marvellous. First stop is two days in Kiev before a night train to Lviv in the west tonight. Eastern/Russian Europe is just as I expected. It is surprising how all the memories and useful information comes flooding back from previous trips. How to use the very cheap, efficient and effective metro, bus and trolleybus systems, where to get your tickets and tokens and where to get them stamped. Everything is written in Cyrillic and very few people speak English.

Bureaucracy is alive and well and living in Ukraine. I had to fill in two forms before I even entered the country. It is a good job I remembered to bring the details from my visa application with me. I found an address to use as a contact in Ukraine and get a personal visa. As opposed to getting a tourist visa where you have to get all your hotels booked in advance for every night. I like to do that as I go along. A holiday to be worked at, as nothing comes easy, but the rewards are great.

Yesterday in Kiev was fantastic. Everything just seem to click into place from navigating the metro and trolleys systems, to buying my train ticket to Lviv for tonight. I managed to get a number of sites in. Babyn Yar a WWII memorial and a number of Cathedrals including St. Cyril’s. He of the alphabet. that I am getting to know all of a sudden. Also pleasant were the vast open streets of the main city centre which are closed to traffic at the weekend. Everybody comes out on a Sunday and just strolls around the centre and a few of the parks, have a few beers (20p) and a hotdog (15p), visits the church/Cathedral and then go home.

Highlight of the day has to be the folk/singing festival I came upon quite by accident in some sort of exhibition hall I just happen to go into. Three hours of traditional folk singing combined with some contemporary music. The contemporary music appeared to be the winners of a competition. All the locals seemed to enjoy it anyway. Quite funny on occasions, as a number of the folk singers in their traditional dress where seated on the stage for the whole time, carrying out their traditional tasks of spinning wool and sewing. They really were spinning and sewing as well, it was not just for show. Why miss a golden opportunity to get some work done. The fact they were on stage in front of a few thousand people had no effect on them at all. A number of them started chatting to each other about who knows what (price of bread, wasn’t the metro busy this morning, that sort of thing probably) during a number of the performances that they did not appear to enjoy too much.

The weather is overcast and about freezing. I had wished for minus eighteen and clear blue skies but you cannot have everything.

Ukraine is a very religious country if yesterday is anything to go by. Strange how it survived the atheist Soviet regime. As the national anthem says “Ukraine has not yet died” It almost did. Due to famine (which was engineered by Stalin) and WWII they lost fifty percent of the male population in the first half of the twentieth century. A sobering thought to leave you with in light of current events.

It is now time to go. Until I find the next internet cafe.

PS I am really enjoying myself as you may have already guessed
PPS Feel free to ask any questions.