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Kyiv LIVE : It’s Freezing Cool !

Published: December 10, 2012 | 9:52 am
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The COMMERCIAL TIMES

Kiev, the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River, is an amazing adventure to experience! First thought that crossed my mind during my first visit here in the Post Soviet Union country 4 years ago was like a déjà vu ! Am I back to USSR? And the same feeling struck me now again after 4 years.

I guess, it’s Boryspil Airport dragging me back to the 90s, kind of a visit card of the country. Airport personnel are also dressed in old-fashioned uniforms reminding me of the times two decades ago when Georgia and Ukraine were still parts of the mighty USSR. One more thing, SMILE ! This important component of service sector, which we often say is an issue in Georgia, appears to be the remains of the common Soviet history here too, except for different commercial agents offering you bunch of stuff on streets with a big smile, which are quite a lot out there even in this freezing weather.

Another visit card of any country is a taxi driver J After leaving Boryspil Airport my colleagues and I started looking for a taxi to drive us to the hotel to unpack. We see Sky Taxes and come up to one of them, the driver tells us to walk up to the first one in a raw and while we keep walking a middle-aged man approaches us and asks if we need a taxi and we nod. Valodya appeared to be quite an amiable person. During about an hour drive to the city center we all talked much about Georgia and Ukraine and certainly social topics were covered. The Ukrainian driver said he envied our country: “you have no corruption there,” he said, showing us his kinda torn ID. “I had it in my pocket and my wife washed it. I plan to get a new one, but it’s not an easy procedure here,” says Valodya with a smile. “And when you visit a doctor you have to bring there some sweets by all means.” The Ukrainian was very well aware of the political-economic developments in our country. “Your new PM has a lot of money, hope changes will be only for good for Georgia. Whatever, your situation is much better than ours.”

National cuisine is also a topic for discussion between the representatives of two nations. As we drive to the hotel, through the car window we see a big building with a sweet text ROSHEN- one of the largest European manufacturers of confectionery products. Actually, chocolate and food in general, is not expensive here, maybe less than in Georgia.

Along with luxury restaurants, there’s Puzata Hata (Belly House) – one of the largest and most affordable chain of colorful Ukrainian cuisine restaurants found in Kyiv and in Ukraine’s other major cities. An average small lunch costs 25 UAH (GEL 5) per person.

Also, one of the top best affordable caterings in Kyiv is Zdorovenki Buli (Stay healthy) located in the middle of the main street Khreshatyk.

Both, Puzata Hata and Zdorovenki Buli are quite busy and to find a table is difficult sometimes at these two buffet-style eating outlets.

Ukrainian borscht, dumplings, salo, cutlets, famous national cake and lots of other traditional cuisine dishes make a delicious visit card of the country!

Municipal transport is the main means for transportation for locals. You can see well-dressed men and women, suite up businessmen with laptops in subways here. And those who choose driving might get stuck in long traffic jams. That’s why subway is known as the next best option.

Underground shopping malls are arranged in subways. Lots of renowned international clothes brands as well as food outlets like McDonald’s are right here to shop around and eat. Globus and Metrograd are the two famous underground shopping malls. However, what I find weird here is that the majority of the people who take subways are low and middle class income population while the prices here are quite high. Locals say they prefer going to bazrobaz (fairs) and other trade objects where they can shop affordably. During the three days of my visit in Kiev I hardly saw people leaving brand shops with a purchase.

Middle income here, according to the locals, is UAH 2500 (GEL 500). For this money, yes, it would be really hard to shop at Globus or Metrograd. 

Souvenir shopping has become my hobby here! One of the most typical Ukrainian souvenirs here are the famous Matryoshka dolls. You will also find special holiday Matryoshkas or the ones of different celebrities, including politicians.

Wolf and rabbit of Nu Pogodi, Crocodile Gena and Cheburashka and lots of other old Soviet cartoon character toys can be bought at local supermarkets subway shipping malls.

Religion we have common with Ukrainians and on the To Visit list there’s certainly the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra (Monastery of the Caves), a very beautiful, amazing place! One of the top miracles here is the imperishable relics of saints in near and far caves.

At a local religious shop you can buy various icons of saints.

Flight Back to Tbilisi approaches and I feel that three days is not enough to see all the beauty of Kyiv. Temperature in my homeland sounds so hot compared to the cold of Ukraine. Watching weather forecast on the Ukrainian TV the last words I hear sound like this: “Wherever you are look for warmth and sun in yourself!” J Yes, it’s freezing in Kyiv in winter, still it’s freezing cool there!

Big thanks to International Ukrainian Airlines for comfortable and peaceful flight!

 

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