Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Post-Soviet Chronicles Part 1: Kyiv, Ukraine

I have been atrociously bad at blogging these last few months, and so I made a late New Year's Revolution (read: I'm bored in my hotel room in Almaty) to blog more for you all. I decided to start with a series on my recent Post-Soviet travels to Ukraine and Kazakhstan, with some fun Tajikistan adventures in the middle. And so, without further adieu, part one...

Kyiv, not Kiev-- if you've got some free time, this is a great read

Ukraine is cold. The temperature says one thing (4-5 degrees farenheiht maybe) but your body tells you something completely different. BITING cold. Wow it was chilly. Super icey and snowy too. It's no wonder Ukrainian people were not very nice-- how could they be when they have to *live* in that cold.

But seriously Ukraine was interesting. My non-existing Russian moved slightly closer to being existent and I navigated the metro system all on my own once (yay for metros being pretty much the same worldwide!). "Hryvnia" is the currency in Ukraine, and before you even try to pronounce it let me tell you it's pronounced completely differently. Ready? "Greev-na". What?! Anyways the exchange rate was about 1 USD to 8.5 Greevna and prices were generally pretty low. The stuff also looked/felt like monopoly money

One of the world's deepest metro's at the Arsenalna Station in Kyiv
Overall I ate a lot of borscht because it's probably the best food ever. If you're not sure, it's basically a beet and chicken-broth based pot-luck soup. And it's delicious. Traditionally it's served with a dallop of sour-cream like stuff (smetana). Totally gonna learn to cook this stuff (or that's my intent anyways) so that I can eat it all the time.

Borscht in a Kyiv bar, served in a dark rye bread bowl, because why not?
The protest square in Kyiv was really cool to see. Many of you have probably seen the pictures I've put up on Facebook, but basically when I arrived the movement was really "occupy Wall Street"esque. Lots of makeshift tents, people just chilling, music conferences and occasionally random marches. Obviously things have gotten much more intense since then. The first day I arrived we want and stayed until about 10pm, then that night the first deaths occurred and it got a whole lot more real after that.

Hey tents in the middle of a square!
What was supposed to be a festive "holiday tree" turned into an iconic symbol of the protests. 
No idea, but note the life-size chess on the left side. COOL.

So there's Kyiv in a nutshell. Tune in for the next edition of the post-soviet chronicles; Lviv, Ukraine! 

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