The first stop of the 2016 Trouble’s travels was Poland. Now, I’m in the capitol of Ukraine – Kiev.
These thoughts are on the city itself.
#1: SOVIET ARCHITECTURE IS CLASSICALLY BEAUTIFUL…
…but it gets old after a while.
At this point, everything is starting to look the same to me. Poland, and other countries I’ve been to are not the same. This is my first journey into the Former Soviet Union territory.
If you need a history lesson on the FSU, go here.
Anyways, the buildings. Miles about miles of Soviet-era concrete apartments. Some of them are beautifully designed. Around the main street, it reminds me a bit of San Francisco, with the hills and style of buildings.
Compare and contrast:
Add in the rolling hills throughout the city…
Maybe it’s a crazy comparison.
#2: THE ENGLISH LEVEL IS POOR
I’m not surprised and prepared accordingly.
The reality is though, if you haven’t taken many trips abroad, it’s not a place I’d recommend as a first destination. It takes a bit of cultural knowledge and shock factor to get used to it.
The English isn’t as bad as Colombia was in November of 2015, but I also don’t have two guys who speak the language fluently with me (and me speaking a bit of Spanish helped).
#3: THE UNDERGROUND LABYRINTH OF KIEV
There are entire cities of shopping malls, electronics kiosks, and more underground. These little shops and labyrinths are how you “cross” the street, since actually stepping food in the road is about a 50/50 proposition you’ll end up as road kill.
(Other funny note: it’ll either be a brand new Range Rover or an Opel that’s about a hundred years old. See #4.)
These little malls are everywhere.
I’ve gotten lost in them a dozen times already. And counting.
#4: THERE IS NO MIDDLE CLASS IN KIEV
This might be a bit of a strong way to word it, but there is hardly any middle class.
People are either filthy rich or dirt poor.
A Russian girl I was on a date with last night (but has lived in Kiev for over ten years), commented on this. She pointed out the window at the Range Rovers and Ferrari that were parked outside the bar we were in.
And parked next to them were the beater cars.
#5: KIEV IS SLEEPY
*I’m going to preface this one by saying that it is the Easter holiday, which is a weeklong (or more) deal here.
But unless I see a huge uptick in amount of energy on the streets, this is by far the quietest city of three million people that I’ve seen in my life. I expect once the workweek resumes to see more hustle and bustle, but it’s amazing how calm and relaxed everything is.
People are walking with their families, pushing strollers. Walking at such a leisurely pace it would take you an hour to traverse a single mile (or 1.6 kilometers).
FSU and Ukrianian culture is vastly different than anywhere else I’ve seen.
I’m looking forward to seeing and sharing more.
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