SUMMERTIME IN KYIV
June , 2018
VACATION- ONLY -NON WORK related
DO I RECOMMEND TRAVELING HERE ? YES!!!
My trip to Ukraine was absolutely brilliant, and even though I would love to go on and on, I will try to keep this story as short and straightforward as possible. Now, of course, I am writing all this just from a tourist’s point of view and even though I just spent a week. I do feel that I can judge a place after three days.
First let me say that KYIV is not a super touristy place but more of a space to meet others, get involved in loads of activities, enjoy cool restaurants and bars.
I had two weeks off from work, and I was looking for some adventure. I wanted to do something out of my comfort zone. Of course, this is just one of the many things and places that I wanted to visit, but I needed somewhere where the visa process for Jamaican passport holders wasn’t hectic. Somewhere I hadn’t been before. I remember friends inviting me to Ukraine, and I thought, why not? On the way, I would also stop over in Turkey (see the previous blog post).
Why do I have Ukrainian friends?
I work as a Guest Entertainer on cruise ships and a lot of the musicians are Ukrainians.
A large number of countries including Jamaica requires an E-Visa for Ukraine. Make sure to take advantage of this opportunity and travel!
The E-Visa website still has a lot of things to get fixed. The visas costs 65USD and you are required to provide flight information, hotel, a bank statement and passport copy. However, these requirements aren't very clear. For example, the websites asks you to upload 'reason for visit' but what they actually want is your hotel and flight details ( yes I learned the hard way).
Unlike regular online visa websites, this one requires that you upload only JPEG files. Say what????
We all know important documents are usually in PDF form. This means you have to convert the files online which usually causes the PDF to break up in two pages. You then have to merge the pages in jpeg. Since this website only has 1 upload per slot, you then have to merge the flight and hotel information into on file before uploading. If you don't do this then your application won't be approved. They will have to fix this.
Extremely friendly people
Extremely clean city
Very modern city but let me elaborate. Apartment buildings tend to look really old and dingy on the outside because for some reason, the government hasn’t yet made moves to refurbish old soviet buildings.
Lots of beautiful buildings . So many beautiful buildings.
Very modern - Hipster style restaurants everywhere.
Very artsy [ there is always someone playing music , dancing or doing some the of performance on the streets]
Lots of live music everywhere.
Lots of Dairy & Lots of fresh food
Very cheap for tourists compared to the Caribbean, some European countries & Japan.
Large number of very well educated people. Highly intelligent people.
CAN YOU TELL THAT I LOVED THE CITY?
KYIV is not a very touristy city. You can pretty much finish all the touristy stuff in a day but its great for meeting people, hanging out at bars and restaurants, getting involved in activities and relaxing. It offers a great balance. Lots of similarities to NYC.
If you are traveling solo , it would be good if you knew someone there because figuring out the metro is really complicated. I still haven’t, Its super super deep and where the lines run to is still pretty unclear for tourist. The chit/ticket system went completely over my head.
There is UBER, thankfully!
Went to see a concert being held at the …. cathedral that houses the largest organ int he world. A tiny man played that big organ for over an hour. Bless him.
Walked around the city and saw some sculptures, Love bridge etc.
Had a wonderful dinner at a quaint little hipster restaurant called Tres Branche directly facing Golden Gate. The staff all speak English and the food is also vegetarian friendly.
Went jogging around the city and I was surprised that no one stared at me . Lovely!
Walked around the city some more, ate some more food, sat on park benches, watched people practice dancing or played instruments. Kyiv has a lot of parks and a lot of greenery. Its very easy to forget that you are in a big city.
Evening time I took the subway for the first time and went with a friend to JAZZ in GARDENS. It was so much fun!
My favorite day. Friends took me to a Ukrainian Village. What we would call ‘countryside’ that was infested by mosquitoes but it was a fabulous day. However, if you don't have friends to show you the authentic experience, you could opt to go use a tour on TripAdvisor that will take you to the countryside & take you a Banyan. But nothing will beat my homemade Banyan experience.
Everyone meet ‘LUBA.’ In Russian her name means LovE, and she is all love. What an amazing woman!
I spent the day in the Ukrainian Countryside at LUBA’s house who doesn’t speak a single word of English & I speak no Russian or Ukrainian, but she took such good care of me. Showed me the village, taught me how to cook Ukrainian food, fed me so much and made me drink milk!
I haven’t had a drink of regular cow's milk in years, but RUBA didn’t understand why I wouldn’t drink it, so I had to 😝. The milk here in Ukraine is so fresh it’s unreal !!! Everything is so fresh. She spoke to me all day in Russian even though I didn’t understand. She made me take a nap at around 4:30pm and then prepared a traditional Ukrainian Banyan [Sauna ] for me! It was one of the best days ever, and I didn’t pay a dime !
Took the train all by myself to Kharkiv Kyiv. Whew. I was scared for some reason. I guess because I didnt speak the language but it worked out fine. I arrived in Kharkiv and my friends were there to pick me up.
Spent the day & evening walking around Kharkiv.
Oh before I forget, my friend Artem also used a web service to contact a young lady who came to the house and gave me the best pedicure & gel toes I have had in a long time for only 20USD!
Meet Anatoli. He is my friend Artem’s father. I will be staying at his house for the next two days.
He wanted to show me this huge bottle that he had filled with Vodka that he drank by himself 😂😂 He and I already had two strong Vodka shots.
The Vodka here is amazing. So strong but so clean !
What was fascinating was that I met some ladies who are avid fans of Jamaican dancehall and they were performing on the street. Dancehall Queen Mom is pretty popular on Instagram. Check her out.
For my preparation for the show and performance. I didn’t do that much in Kharkiv because I went to visit friends & sing a few songs at their concert. I enjoyed the day just relaxing and I honestly think this was the first day I rested in months. I met some wonderful people at the show. The bar was so cute and the owner was lovely. Shout out to Artem & his band for having me! It was great to work with Andrii & Timur as I had worked with them before on ships.
I didn’t book a return train to Kyiv and by the time I was ready everything was sold out. No flights were available and later in the day I was introduced to this called Bla-Bla Car. This was one of the craziest things I have ever done and was pretty scary but I made it to Kyiv alive!
I went bar hopping and clubbing that night and absolutely loved it. I had no issues as a woman , well except a small one with an old drunk man telling me to go home with him but other than that- all good.
Mini-Photo Shoot in one of the many parks with photographer Petro.
And at night I went to check out what I thought would be a jam session at Barman Dictat but I don’t know what happened there. The stage is in an awkward spot and we are pretty alienated from the musicians BUT the food and drinks was amazing!
Historical tour of the city. Had lunch at Mama Mañana. Bought souvenirs from the underground shopping mall which is amazing! A must see!
I HEARD THAT ODESSA & LVIV ARE GREAT PLACES TO VISIT SO THOSE WILL BE MY NEXT TWO STOPS WHEN I VISIT KYIV AGAIN.