Visiting Ukraine. Kiev.

The flight is over . Passport control in Kiev airport was easy – 30 min wait in line and you “re in. American citizens don “t need visas here. My former colleague Alex met me at the airport and drove me to the hotel. On the way there, he showed me a bunch on newly built good looking houses a.k.a. elite homes.

We stopped by Babiy Yar to pay respect to 100000 people killed by German Nazis during the World War Two. Vast majority of these people were Jews. My aunt was buried there by German Nazis alive with the baby in her arms. I took the picture of this monument on April 25, 2009:

The Orange revolution is in the past, and people in Ukraine don “t have any illusions anymore. Every person I met said the same ting, “There was a slight hope that this was a chance to get leaders that really cared about the people, but the current politicians are bunch of crooks as everyone else before the revolution rdquo;.

The rulers play with the exchange rate of the local currency (hrivna) allowing insiders to pocket tons of money. AT the same time, people who deposited money in the banks are not allowed to withdraw them. The money are frozen at this point.

My two days in Kiev went by fast ndash; one day I met with my former co-workers and spent the next day walking around the city and partying with my schoolmates from PS#94.

I visited a huge book market at Petrovka and purchased a couple of books and several DVDs with local movies. With books I have no doubts, but to be honest with you, I “m not sure if the DVDs were original or bootleg. The packaging and the disks look real.

The center part of Kiev looks gorgeous ndash; the city is green, clean, and inexpensive for an American wallet. There is an abundance of restaurants, taxis, and hotels. The service is good too. Here ‘s the photo of yours truly in front of the newly erected monument to the victims of the Hunger during 1930th. SOme people believe if the money spent on this monument would be directed on improvements in the poor villages, people would appreciate it more:

Here and there I noticed things that didn “t seem right. The main terminal station has plenty of stairs to move from one track to another ndash; none of them is equipped with the rails for rolling bags. People have to lift and carry heavy suitcases up and down.

Waiting in line to purchase a cake in a small kiosk. They also sell vodka ndash; some of the brands by the glass, and some of them by the bottle. A silver-haired well dressed guy in front of me wants to purchase a glass of vodka that is not being sold by glasses. The girl tried to explain him that she “s not allowed to open that particular bottle. The guy shows her an ID apparently proving that he “s a big shot from the political elite, and she opened the bottle. For some reason, I can “t imagine that a US congressman would behave the same way in public.

Overall, I really enjoyed my stay in Kiev, and surprisingly, it made into my very short list of cities I want to visit again.

This is the main street – Kreshchatik:

BTW, if you decide to fly by Aerosvit, keep in mind that they don “t offer binoculars on board. Bring your own as watching a movie on one of two 10 inch screen TVs hanging on the wall in the cabin may be a little challenging if your seats are 10 feet away.

My next destination was a small Ukrainian town and then a long train journey to Russia. Stay tuned…

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