Kiev

Kiev is where it all began, Russia, Ukraine and all that came with it [Bradt Guide] A wonderful city as old as the 5th century, Kiev is full of history and legacy.
It is a city of layers, the golden domed cathedrals that glisten impressively, the cave monasteries (Kiev Pecherska Lavra) over a thousand years old and a pre-eminent representative of Orthodoxy in Eastern Europe. It is perhaps easy to forget the extensive damage afflicted by the Soviet occupiers.

However the Soviets did leave some architecture of note with the Great Patriotic War museum, the impressive war monuments nearby and motherland statue with an impressive vista over Kiev.

Apart from accommodation, and the usual rip off taxi drivers, Kiev is not expensive and if you bypass hotels for apartments then it is a reasonable place cost wise. Transport (buses, the metro, trains) etc are all very cheap. Without an understanding of Cyrillic it is harder to get around but by no means impossible plus there are plenty of friendly people willing to help if assistance is needed.

Valeriya took me St Sophia’s cathedral which has a nice bell tower and a view of the rebuilt St Mikhayil’s Monastery of the Golden Domes (the original being a victim of the Soviet attempt to wipe out Orthodoxy).
St Sophia’s cathedral itself has an image of Mary where the eyes would appear to be looking at all you where ever you stand).

The underground stations of Kiev
Ukraine has a beautiful metro system that is perhaps bettered only by the likes of Moscow and Pyongyang. The designs are beautiful. Some of the stations themselves are also example of architectural feats for example, Arsenalna Station is the words deepest metro station.
Kiev’s metro is very easy to use, cheap and works well. Care should be taken with your belongings (so I have read).

Valeriya and I also saw Independence Square where we met Andrii, a QA Engineer like myself).
Other places were Arsenalna Station (which has the world’s deepest underground station (over 105m deep) and Kiev Perchersk Lavra, established in 1015.
The relics of many saints can be found there and it is possible to visit as a tourist or pilgrim if you are Orthodox. It is customary to buy a candle. Note that the caves can get rather crowded.

With Valeriya and Andrii I saw the famine moment built by the soviets.
However this may not have been the act of kindness or memorial as it sounds.
It is widely believed that the Soviets engineered the famine to break down Ukrainian patriotic resistance.
In the country known as the breadbasket of Europe over 7 million perished in what is believed to a politically engineered famine orchestrated by Stalin.

Natalia showed me St Andrew’s church.
Andriyivskyi uzviz is lined up with the normal souvenirs and some works of art but there is no tacky feel to the street.
We also saw Lover’s Bridge. Here couples attach padlocks engraved with their names to the bridge as a symbol of their love and I presume it eternity.
A custom not unique to Ukraine but prevalent within.

I returned to Andriyivskyi uzviz street again with Valeriya. We saw another view over Kiev and also took a cable car to Podil.

My trip to Kiev ended on a more sombre note. I visited Babi Yar, which is one of the tragedies of Ukraine. A massacre carried out under the Nazis, where 33,771 Jews were killed in a single operation. Before reaching the Menorah there is a children’s monument built by the Soviets. The Menorah itself was only built in [1991] a soviet monument predates it.
Ukraine’s Jewish population suffered greatly in World War II not just in Kiev but throughout Ukraine.