Kiev – the Winter Wonderland

Posted on January 30, 2012


Frankly I wouldn’t have gone to Kiev in January unless I was asked to go but as long as you are wrapped up warm, it’s absolutely beautiful. I can only give a few tips as it was far too cold to be wandering around and meetings kept me busy but there are a couple of things I would really recommend.

If you see one thing in Kiev, make it Saint Sophia. I was told it was THE place to visit, although there are many more (the city is beautiful – much, much prettier than I expected). Make time and pay the extra few euros for the guided tour, it makes a huge difference and will show you things that you would never spot on your own, or through a guide book. More information here:

After a bit walking in the snow and dealing with winter temperatures of -20 degrees, some good hearty (heavy) Ukranian food is just the thing. Many of the dishes have some similarities to it’s neighbours such as borscht. Ukranian Borscht is different to Russian Borst – is has more of a tomato and cabbage base, rather than just beetroot – but is equally delicious.

I was taken to one typical Ukranian restaurant, called Pervak, which I adored – even though everything was served with sour cream. My hosts ordered for me and chose well, borscht followed by galuptzi, stuffed cabbage leaves.

Getting around has to be by metro or taxi in this weather. I didn’t brave the metro although at times wish I had. If you take a taxi get a price before you go, or ensure they are using their meter and never pay more than 75-80UAH.

You may find yourself wondering whether the old soviet style car that you are in will actually making it to the destination, and on one ride I was convinced that the driver had a death wish – doing 150kms on the wrong side of the road with a bus coming towards us will stay in my memory for a while. I was later told the latter was VIP treatment to get me where I needed to go as fast as possible. I’d personally have taken more time but neither my Russian nor my Ukranian are up to much.

When I go back to Kiev in September I’ll go armed with my Russian phrasebook and the weather should enable me to leave the hotel for more than 5minutes at a time so I’ll write more soon then…

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Posted in: Balkans