This morning at 5AM my girlfriend and I headed off to London Heathrow airport for our flight to Kiev, Ukraine!
After an early flight of about three hours, we arrived at Kiev Borispol and managed to get the ‘SkyBus’ to the Kiev Central train station.
Doing this, and subsequently getting around Kiev, was made harder by neither of us speaking a word of Ukrainian or Russian – a fact that has made our first day more tricky than it otherwise might have been!
After arriving at the central station, we managed to find our way to Vokzalna Metro station after attempting to buy an English map of the city from a vendor – none of whom stocked any, nor spoke any English!
The Kiev Metro is the third oldest Metro system that was constructed in the Soviet Union (after Moscow and St Petersburg), and has some of the deepest stations in the world, which I can certainly vouch for – the escalator ride to and from the platform at some stations is astonishing!
If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of the Metro game series by 4A Games, so you can imagine my glee on seeing the aboveground Kiev Metro signs! (above)
We managed to make our way to Ploscha Lva Tolstoho station (Leo Tolstoy Square), where we, after some searching, found the apartment we are staying in tonight. Kiev’s buildings are all numbered, evens on one side, odds on the other – ‘a’ and ‘b’ suffixes are also sometimes added, for reasons unbeknownst to me! Once we figured this out and managed to find the right door to the building, we were home free!
After dropping off our (relatively little) luggage, we set off for Poshtova Ploscha station to attempt to take the very unique Kiev Funicular up the hill to the St Michael’s Cathedral – it turned out that the funicular was undergoing yearly repairs during our visit!
This meant a walk up the pretty steep hill which turned out alright, although a sudden downpour caught us out near the top and yours truly managed to not bring a rain jacket since the weather had looked fine!
Regardless, we explored a little and found the cathedral (hard to miss), and regardless of my views on religion in general, it really is a beautiful building both inside and out. Russian Orthodox Christianity is something I know relatively little about but I found it intriguing to watch people as they prayed and lit candles inside, as well as the resident monks going about their service.
The rest of the afternoon and evening we spent exploring and searching for somewhere to buy supplies for our trip to the Zone tomorrow and Wednesday – bottled water, snacks and breakfast/dinner food – lunch is provided at the CNPP worker’s canteen during the tours.
Overall, Kiev has been an extremely interesting experience so far – it’s quite unlike any city I’ve ever visited before!
This will do for a day one blog post as it’s already fairly long and I need to sleep – we’re going to Chernobyl at 8:15AM!
I shall report back tomorrow with Ukraine 2013: Day Two!
Wish me luck.