Saturday, 14 April 2012


The 14th of April and spring has at last arrived in the Russian capital. This afternoon was a balmy 15 degrees. Up until today it has struggled to get much above zero.  We spent 4 hours this afternoon strolling. People everywhere, doing the same. The snow is almost gone. I saw grass – green grass! Some of the cafes have put tables outside. I confess I had been getting quite down on Moscow after 5 months of unremitting winter, but today, it all changed. Magic!  

Wendy’s work took her to Kiev for a few days the week before last and I came along to have a look at this famous Ukrainian city.

Now, first things first, and I have to get this off my chest as it did irritate me -  Ukrainians getting upset about foreigners calling their capital Kiev instead of Kyiv. It is not uncommon for languages to have names for foreign places that differ from local usage. Nothing is intended by it. The English call Deutschland ‘Germany’, the French call England ‘Angleterre’. Nobody else seems to care. 

The Ukrainian language also uses inconsistent names and pronunciations. For example, my country is pronounced AV-stralia (this doesn’t bother me at all) and the United States of America is Spaloocheni Stati Americi. So to get upset with foreigners calling Kyiv ‘Kiev’ seems just a little hypocritical.

Anyway, Kyiv or Kiev, it’s the same attractive city. 

There’s much I could say, but I like to keep my posts short or you’ll lose interest. So, a snapshot summary. If you want to know more, check somewhere like Wikipedia.

The old part of the city - bearing in mind that much was rebuilt after a serious trashing by the Nazis - lies atop the steep western bank of the Dnieper River (which is the 4th longest river in Europe). This escarpment is wooded, so there is a long, pleasant stretch of parkland between the city and the river. The opposite side of the river is flatter and mainly park. 

Panorama of the Dnieper River. The old part of Kiev is outside the picture at left, atop the wooded escarpment. In the centre distance is another historic neighborhood, Podil, where the port facilities are located.

However, as with most European cities, further out is a wide ring of drab apartment blocks and in these most of the population live.

Back in the old city many of the buildings and churches are beautiful and the traffic is crazy. I didn’t think there could be worse footpath parkers than Moscow motorists, but Kiev drivers could give lessons. Pedestrians are an inconvenience to drivers seeking a parking spot. 

With one notable exception. The broad main avenue, Khreshchatyk, is closed to traffic on weekends. What a wonderful idea! I wish Moscow would close Tverskaya to cars on the weekend. OK, maybe that’s a bit much to ask, but perhaps the footpath at least could be a pedestrians-only zone on Saturday and Sunday?

Carless Khreshchatyk on a Sunday
St Michael's Monastery bell tower.

Kiev war memorial, located in a park overlooking the Dnieper. The statue is the 6th largest in the world at 62 metres - the sword alone is 16 metres long and weighs 9 tonnes. Its HUGE. And if you like records, Kiev also has the world's deepest metro station - Arsenalna - at 105 metres.

Independence Square. I am about to be asked for money by a strange furry animal.

No comments:

Post a Comment