Day 3 in Kiev
Yesterday started with rain and cold during the trip to the market but the sun shone all afternoon and gave us comfortable temperatures. We took the metro to the square where the Orang Revolution took place. Now, however, it is the FanZone. We couldn’t enter because we had a freshly purchased expensive bottle of mineral water and no such dangerous products are allowed within the fan limits.
We walked along the FanZone and ducked around the corner of a building to call a restaurant that we’d found in lonely planet; Pervak. While Ivo called to reserve an out door table within the next half hour, Steff and I watched a drunken Swede strip to the waist and roll around on the ground in front of 4 young guards. When he tried to stand (a valiant effort, considering how drunk he was) the nearest guard gently pushed him down. He was making quite a racket and his colleagues were sat about 3 feet away on a step, laughing at him.
We continued down the FanZone, walking down the middle of the street as soon as we were away from the protected and Coke sponsored inner area. Large trailers with banners in Ukrainian and English proclaimed their allegiance with their “beloved Julia” and their hatred of the current government. Me thinks that participants of the Orange Revolution would prefer these banners to those advertising Carlsburg beer within the Zone. Then again, not merely the ads, but the masses of vomiting and drunken foreigners may have also given the revolutionaries pause.
Pervak had been described in Lonely Planet as an authentic Ukrainian restaurant with modern takes on classic dishes and very little kitch. The waitresses were dressed in corsets, two large carved figures are at either side of the host’s stand and are dressed as a sailor and farmer. The downstairs bar’s stools are made to look like horse’s rear ends, tails and all. Yup, not kitchy at all. We drank smoked apple and berry juice and had some super great food and then headed across the street to the Lucky Pub. This place was described in Lonely Planet as being likely to be a popular spot during the Euro Cup 2012 (it was written in 2010.) It has 13 TV screens and was filled with locals and foreigners alike. I ordered a milkshake and asked what flavors they had “only milkshake flavor” was the answer. Ivo said, “like, vailla, or….?” and she admitted that vanilla was the milkshake flavor, yes. The actual milkshake seemed to be milk with powder mix and a banana, poured in a glass with marachinno syrup and topped with whipped cream. This - - interesting – milkshake reminded me of the insane milkshake flavors (27?) at Pearl’s burgers in the Tenderloin of San Francisco, including Nutella and other craziness. I never had a milkshake there and sucking some banana through a straw made me think that I should try to have less regrets in my travels and that none of it has to do with milkshakes.
After Russia’s victory we walked back through the FanZone. We found a busker singing Kino songs. Ivo discovered Kino when we were in Petersburg and went to his friends’ for dinner. After we ate, Ivo and Igor took turns playing the guitar (Ivo playing it like a bass) while each fella’s partner sang along to a classic song from our youth. Igor and Sveta sang mostly Kino songs and we later learned that Igor’s personal style was very much taken from Kino. They both come from the Caucuses. But on this night in Kiev, a large group of young Russians and Ukrainians sang loudly and passionately as a busker played and sang the songs of a revolutionary musician who became popular decades ago. It was lovely.
Today we headed to the Mother Homeland statue. The large steely lady holds a disproportionately short sword in one hand and a shield in the other. Apparently nothing can be higher than the nearby monostary and thus it is shorter than it should be. After a walk down the river, we saw the mother looming above the trees. We walked under the highway and bought entry into a garden with lovely floral designs of EM host countries past and present. There’s something so touching about seeing a football made of shrubbery.
After that we walked past stalls selling wares and on to a veritable candy shop for the boys. The candy shop today was gardens of military vehicles that line the way to the monument. We popped into a museum of wars in foreign lands to buy Steff entry into a pen where a Soviet helicopter from the war in Afghanistan stood. He and Ivo climbed inside the machine and photographed one another while I sat and people watched. The day had involve much sun and walking so far, so I was glad to sit in the shade and glad that I was not wearing the 5-6 inch heels that many of the other visitors were wearing.
We then walked through a tunnel with amazing 3d carvings in the walls representing the soldiers and home-front of the great patriotic war. We then went to a second museum that connects to the statue. We decided to only purchase a ticket that would take us to the middle platform below the statue’s feet. A ticket to climb the ladder through the mother’s arm to her shield would involve a 3 hour wait. Despite the large and interesting and well displayed museum, we couldn’t possibly spend 3 hours walking around there and claustrophobia pushed the camel over while making the decision.
The Ukrainian accounts of the Great Patriotic War are apparently far more balanced than those Ivo has found in Russia. It was very effecting, however; very emotionally draining. After visiting the platform and taking photos and taking in what we could see of this big huge city, we tried to find our way to another Metro stop. Along the way, we got to see young boys with doves who offered to perch them on visitors’ arms, as well as a british man getting short with a stall attendant for not understanding “TWO ICED TEAS!” quickly enough and a man in an SUV driving quickly onto the pedestrian way, blasting music, we got to eat lemon-chocolate swirled soft-serve ice cream. We made our way home and had a rest and then I cooked us up some Pelmyeni and Vereniky (vegetable dumplings and meat dumplings) and spinach with pickles and now we’re just eagerly awaiting the next Euro match.
If tonight is as hot as today was, we’ll likely make our way to the Hydropark and go swimming in the river. We’re still trying to figure out how to do that without getting robbed, so it’s a real adventure. After all, if Ivo’s camera could be so well lifted from a backpack he was wearing (a big, heavy camera, that is), we’ll need to be clever about our belongings.