Kiev or how to travel to the center of Europe without realizing it.
Capital of Ukraine, Kiev is when looking at geographical Europe rather in the center as the Oural is way off to the east. History of Ukraine is interesting as the country often opposed russian domination. Currently it fights not to lose part of its territory in the eastern half to Russia, you can see the stigmates of the events, past and recent ones, everywhere in the city center. Large panels on the Maidan place show fighters in uniform amidst tons of national flags in blue and yellow. Demonstration marches happen here and there, you can buy toilet paper with Putins face on it at every corner and the overall atmosphere is slightly tense.
This said, the city is quiet and you might actually enjoy a nice visit in the center and taste local food. Prices are incredibly cheap as the local currency is unfortunately taking a hit from the economic slowdown. Kiev’s incredibly deep metro (-105m) costs only 0.16€ a trip. Lunch is around 4-5€ and dinner up to 10€ if you’re really hungry. Of course there are some affluent places like everywhere but you’re into visiting right ?
The center is impressive as the soviet era left a collection of granite built massive & overdimensional buildings. More spiritual is the area around the Mother Nation statue with an incredible War Museum but also a hill covered with orthodox churches of great beauty – outside and inside. Not to miss are the churches inside the city like holy Sophia’s cathedral, a jewel in orthodox religious architecture and well preserved. St. Andrew is nice too but way more recent.
Last but not least, restaurants. Local food or georgian food is fairly accessible to western budgets and incredibly delicious. In summer or better – end of Spring – Kiev must definitely be a treat to visit. I’d definitely recommend this place for a long weekend – shopping for food is great too – and I will certainly return to it and try to see more of the country.