In early 2016, Ukraine was not on my travel radar at all. Russia had been aggressive towards them and Crimea was basically a no-go zone. My real destination was Jordan. Petra has been on my wish list for years, as well as Syria, and after seeing what had happened in Syria I wanted to get to Petra soon. Jordan is certainly worth a week or so, and since I had more time than that, Israel was a natural add-on. So, I started to look for airfares from NYC since I was occasionally traveling there for work, on my own schedule. One airfare was coming up 100’s of dollars cheaper than the others – Ukraine International Air (UIA). I’d never flow with them, much less heard of them. I wondered what it would cost to stop over in Ukraine for a few days and it didn’t add much to the cost. So, I went to TripAdvisor to see what there was to do in Kyiv to discover the #1 tour was Chernobyl. It looked to fascinating, I HAD TO GO! The three-legged airfare JFK – KBP, KBP – TLV, AMM – JFK (New York to Kyiv, Kyiv to Tel Aviv, Amman Jordan to New York) was only $777. Lucky sevens! So a stop in Kyiv Ukraine, it is!
My friend was on a different flight as she was coming from Seattle so we met at the airport. The hostel arranged a private driver which made arrival easy. Ukraine is a visa free country so entry was a snap.
We had two full days in Kyiv – one before and one after our Chernobyl tour. Two days was a good amount of time to get a feel for the city, but I could have stayed longer.
Ukraine is really a budget destination. We went out for a light dinner the night we arrived and I had these dumplings and a beer for $5.
Ukrainians must love coffee because there are all these gourmet coffee stands where you can get coffees for $1 or less.
The Kyiv Subway System
Kyiv Ukraine has an amazing subway system and it’s dirt cheap. One station is one of the world’s most beautiful stations.
Kyiv Free Walking Tour
We did a free walking tour that took us to some funky and historical stops.
St. Michael’s Cathedral. Just behind the Cathedral you can catch this tram down to the riverside.
St. Sophia Cathedral. An Art display inside was made from painted eggs:
Park where Alice in Wonderland story is a playground of mosaic statues.
Easter in Kyiv – we just missed it
The city was taking down their Easter decorations. They looked spectacular. Easter must be a good time to visit.
Kiev-Perchersk Lavra Caves Monastery
On our second full day in Kiev, we spent a lot of time in the grounds of the Kiev-Perchersk Lavra Caves Monastery. We did a tour into the cave where their local saints are buried. Within the complex is a bell tower and several museums.
An absolute must is a visit to the Mykola Syadrisky Micro-Miniatures Museum. This artist has made the most amazing sculptures by hand that can only be seen by microscope – for example a chess board and pieces, a tall ship, gold boots on a real flea, and a rose in a human hair.
Kyiv Ukraine military park
We also went to the military park. Here the Mother Ukraine stands tall with her sword over the city. There are lots of Ukrainian military equipment, but most interesting is the captured Russian military vehicles captured in Crimea and displayed with signs about the aggression in Ukrainian, Russian, and English.
Some other random sites around Kyiv:
Last But Not Least – Eat some Chicken Kiev
For our last night, I just had to eat Chicken Kiev! They certainly like butter! There were chains of this all around Kyiv Ukraine – sort of the Ukrainian Cracker Barrel!
Traveled May, 2016