Three Days in Kyiv
Right now, I am sitting in a hotel room in Kyiv (or Kiev in Russian), looking out of the window over a large city filled with lights. I am here on a short trip visiting our regional office for a three day training session.
What can I say about Kyiv? Well, as with Odessa, I did not know what to expect and I sure did not expect a city of this size. For it is a really a big city, with a myriad of different styles and architectures. From 1000 year old orthodox churches to Stalinist buildings, giant communist apartment blocks and modern glass complexes. My hotel, Hotel Bratislava, is a giant 14 stories high concrete building a couple of metro stops from the city center. (The metro, by the way, is really cool. It goes extremely deep down under ground in the center, with part of it really nicely decorated from when it was built and the steps in the escalators are made out of wood.) The hotel has been renovated not too long ago but it still has a flare of “Soviet luxury”. And the breakfasts are great, like at all hotels that I have stayed at in former Soviet Union republics.
Like I said, Kyiv is a big city. Too big to get a good picture in three days, especially when working during the days, but it seems vibrant and much better off than Chisinau. (I am beginning to realize that most places are…) I have not had the time to go out in the suburbs but the city center is very nice, situated on the top of a hill with the Dnipro River below. There are a few islands in the river and beaches along the banks. Parts of the city were destroyed during WWII but there are still a lot of typical Russian style 18-19:th century architecture around, making some areas extremely pretty.
The inhabitants seem nice too (though I had a bit of a problem communicating with them since I do not speak Ukrainian or Russian), and above all very relaxed. I walked around a bit after work and in every little park and on every small set of steps, people are gathering and hanging out over a few beers, enjoying the first summer evenings.
Finally, I have to give credit to my colleagues. During my three nights here, I have been invited for dinner by two persons in the office (one of which I hardly knew but who has a Swedish wife and therefore wanted to introduce us), and everyone has made sure that I am ok in the hotel, that it is easy to get to work in the mornings, that I have something to do in the evening, etc. So immensely considerate!