FLYING TO KIEV

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    I hit the road for a cheap travel to Ukraine this time… I’m going to Kiev.

    I’m traveling with Ukraine International Airlines. Because it’s so cheap and the planes are OK… You can check the prices from here
    Boeing 737­-800 of Ukraine International Airlines departs from Atatürk Airport in 1.10.2015, 6:00am
    I’m with dear Pınar…
    And her husband Haluk. He is a friend that’s maybe the second best thing after my kids from what’s left from my ex husband.
    I pity the car which was left
    (Where are you, you cruel?!)
    My seat is 1A… We’re on business class.
    They make us comfortable with their welcome drinks…
    …yet I feel sleepy. Since the plane is very comfy, I go for a quick nap.
    Soon our pretty blonde hostess wakes me up and brings our breakfast.
    We start to descend upon Kiev after 1h 40min flight. What you see is not the sea, it’s the River
    Dnieper. Europe is such a green landmass filled with rivers.
    Kiev is one such example. It’s well sown all around.
    Aaaaand we’re landed. We took the city service to downtown Kiev. It costs 60 Grivnas per person.
    100 Grivnas equals 15 Liras. That’s our scale.
    Thanks buddy!
    Our flat is in the city center.
    Круглоуниверситетская 2/1 кв.22 That’s our adress. Isn’t that annoying?
    That’s how you read it: Kruhlouniversytetska.
    But I didn’t even bother trying to say it. Why would I!
    As soon as we arrived to our apartment, wow, this lady was inside. We asked her who she is but she couldn’t explain. Turns out she was the house cleaner lady who was done with her work there, and she was waiting for the land gent to pay her. Keep that part in mind, as it’s hard to encounter someone who speaks English. Just like us!
    As soon as we unpacked we went out to the street.
    There’s a huge mall next to our house.
    And this market next to the mall.
    In Budapest there were a better one, called Fövam Ter. Well, that one’s name was easy to remember, but how I’m going to say this one’s name? Bessarabskiy rynok…
    I was amazed to see those mountain berries again after Nemi in Lazio, Italy. Haluk bought plenty of these.
    And I bought pickles. They’re kinda sweet.
    In butchers they have different types of pork, lots of it.
    Haluk was interested in horse meat.
    He bought one to try. I said “why would they eat horses!” I regret my words after we came back home.
    He also got some caviar.
    We prepared a meal with what we got. Berries, pickles and beer were great together.
    It’s totally worth it.
    Since we arrived really early, the day seems to be never ending. We went out again to check Kiev Square.
    Haluk finds an Ukrainian military hat and wears it.
    Let me tell you something about the civil war in Ukraine. The war continues but only on the Eastern Ukraine. Donetsk and Crimea are unlike Kiev right now. Because Crimea was part of Ukraine and had autonomy but %80 of its population speaks Russian. Since 2014 it’s under Russian occupation.
    Those who managed to evade the events in the East fled  to Kiev and its surroundings but the old, the poor and those who can’t leave their elderly alone had to stay there.
    Maidan Nezalezhnosti
    And here is the heart of Kiev. Maidan Nezalezhnosti.
    Maidan Nezalezhnosti
    Which translates into Independence Square.
    Kiev Özgürlük Meydanı
    One can also call it Khreshchatyk Square, you pick.
    I know you’re curious about Ukrainian girls. Women like her are common here but they’re not that awesome. I think women in Sarajevo are way better.
    They wear pretty weird footwear. Lady, you can’t walk for God’s sake!
    Of course, as any other country there are Turkish restaurants.
    Let me tell you about Pınar and Haluk. Pınar is a dentist with master degree but she’s not working anymore. She says she’s done with the career part and she’s now on karı yer “the wife spends” part. Definition of a princess, she is.
    Haluk is a head and neck surgeon. He’s the one we call first when we’re sick. He’s a nice guy, a brother, a father, a husband and a friend. We love him so much.
    What bothers me about Ukraine is the alphabet. Almost everything is written in Cyrillic. Foreigners in Kiev state that Russian and Ukrainian are really similar, but Ukrainians and Russians deny that and they say they don’t understand each other.
    Dinamo Kiev Stadium
    While we were exploring, we found the Dynamo Kiev Stadium.
    As we proceed, we saw this binocular­shaped telescope. And as we check it out,
    that this helipad
    has a guy statue on its roof, with hands shaped like a binocular, staring us back. Nice one, guys.
    While we were traversing through those parks nearby, we saw this lady praying.
    Dinamo Kiev Stadium
    We walk past the stadium gate on our way back. I said “this statue must be their Aziz Yıldırım-President of Fenerbahçe.”
    Haluk laughs at that.
    Kyiv
    As the dark blue descends upon the city
    the city itself starts to glow
    and stars fall on big buildings.
    There I realised Kiev is a really beautiful city, far better than expected.
    We decide to have a dinner at a fancy corner in
    the street.
    Solo Pizza
    Since our money has strong purchase power here.
    A message to people who try to lead Turkey to a conflict, you can see Ukraine’s money is highly devalued because of the war.
    Beggars are all around with their different clothings. Just like Kadıköy in İstanbul. They’re annoying.
    Grivna
    We paid like 60 Liras to a 3 ­people fancy dinner.
    I found an amazing and free activity to attend tomorrow, free city tour with guides!
    I’d like to show you those tissues which resemble Ukrainians’ love to Putin.
    Volpino Italiano
    And I encountered the Ukrainian Pepito. Just as my dog, this one is Volpino Italiano.
    When you go to the Post Office in Independence Sq. at 12:00pm, you can attend to free tours. This panda guy is also there for tips.
    While we were waiting for the group to form, those fellers came in and prepared a stage. Attraction of all those cameras makes you think that those people are really famous here.
    Same guys pulled us to their stage, added us to the show.
    Seems like we were waiting for it, me and Pınar went on dancing with them, having fun…
    For a moment, we even took the show from them.
    Reporter wanted to have an interview, and before you know it we were on the news the same day. But we couldn’t understand what it was about.
    Anyway, after the show tourists started to show up. Haluk surprises everyone by speaking in English, german and french with the people if they can speak one of them. Click here for the free city tour.
    That’s Karina. Our volunteering guide. She’s 22 and studying French Literature at the University of Kiev.
    She starts explaining the city. This building, once a proud structure built by the Soviets, is now
    a McDonalds, an icon of capitalism.
    This square was always a scene for big events in Ukraine’s history, from protests to break free from Soviet rule in 1991,
    to Orange Revolution in 2004.
    Legend states that if you meet your lover and sit there with him/her, you’ll end up marrying and have a happy life thereafter.
    St Michael
    First stop after the Square is the Cathedral of St. Michael.
    It was built in 1108. Soviets looted it in 1930.
    St Michael
     They painted it badly during 2012 Europe Football Championship preparations.
    St Michael
    We went inside.
    St Michael Kiev
    Pınar even did place a candle down.
    Then we headed for another church
    St. Andrea Church… This one is not a cathedral like the former. Why, you may ask. That’s because a cathedral is
    where the Archbishop resides. But a church is just a temple.
    The church was built there after St Andrea placed a cross at the same spot in 1st century AD.
    I went in and realised I’m in a wedding. I quickly took some photos before a mean lady came to me and told me it was forbidden to do so.
    Turns out taking pictures is not forbidden, you just have to pay for it.
    We took this photo along with other tourists.
    After St. Andrea, Karina took us to a gardening street.
    Here’s a project created in early 80s. Painted buildings and the park filled with animal statues
    are all nice.
    There I catch this Ukrainian blonde and took a selfie.
    Gonna eat your cute head.
    Check Pınar out, hehe…
    Kiev’s streets are regulated. Traffic is nice. If you walk from the pedestrian’s way to cross the street, cars stop without question. Don’t try it in other places or they hit you in the back.
    And that’s St Sophia Cathedral. Like our Hagia Sophia.
    Ukrainians love coffee. They sell various types of coffee on the street.
    Karina takes us to the Golden Gate after the free tour. While we were here, in Turkey people were discussing about our own restoration projects. Here as you see Golden Gate restoration caused the structure to look very different from its original.
    At the and of the day we all collect some money and give it to Karina for taking us to this tour. I think this system is great. Just think about it. If we’d try to do it in Istanbul, our ignorant tourism officers would literally hunt us down. I’m serious. Our Ministry of Tourism doesn’t work hard enough on the matter. Go check Sultanahmet, see how, and by whose hands, things work there.
    At the 2nd evening of ours in Kiev, the daylight says goodbye to go and illuminate other lands in such a way, that it makes me take this photo screaming from our apartment window.
    Aaaand the 3rd day in Kiev. Sunlight is brighter than ever. This warmth in this season, aren’t we lucky!
    Streets are quite broad in Kiev and in order to pass them you must use those underground tunnels.
    Kİev Çarşı
    But they’re not just simple tunnels. There are worlds inside. Markets, shops, you name it. It’s
    a living atmosphere and it’s quite warm there during winter.
    It’s my first time seeing a street piano. Whoever wants to play it sits down and plays.
    What I’m trying to say is the nation is rich by art. I mean, just look how the statue carved over
    the tree makes people feel their love.
    This signpost has Latin letters as well but I gotta say, you can’t be this lucky all the time.
    Seeing the Kiev subway is our foremost priority
    today.
    Kyiv Metro
    Those escalators are quite fast and long.
    It takes 5 minutes and 2 escalators to go down to the station. Click to watch the video.
    After the subway we continue on foot to see National Monastery. It’s one of the most
    amazing structures while checking Kiev out.
    We encountered those musician fellers on our way.
    There’s a wedding hall down the street. They’re playing to cheer wedding couples up.
    We were the ones cheering those musicians up, though. Pınar took the tambourine.
    Haluk clapped.
    And I danced with money on my chest. Ah, good times!
    It’s a mortal life we’re living in! Click to play.
    That’s how the monastery greets you when you enter its garden.
    It has a 96,5m long tower, one can see it from the river.
    Dinyeper
    It’s a quite huge sacred ground.
    It’s domes shine like polished cookers. We had no idea how they keep them polished and shining.
    We took pictures of ourselves.
    Keep that in mind. To take pictures with such amazing buildings, you need to place your
    camera on the ground.
    Look…
    I made Pınar lie on the ground to take this one. I have no mercy.
    Pınar might be the ideal travel friend. She does not hesitate to do anything to take the best photo. She’s so adapting, funny and helpful, if she divorces Haluk I’ll marry her myself! She took this one as well, wow.
    Motherland Monument
    After the monastery we go to see Motherland Monument.
    We paused our journey on that cafe and started to gossip. I don’t really recall what I was
    telling, but she seems surprised right?
    Then we realised Haluk is taking our picture. Oh boy, we laugh.
    Rodina Mat
    Behold, the Motherland Monument. Or locally, Rodina Mat.
    Here, from a more distant angle. It’s something huge. Freaks me out. Giant, unhappy statue. Built in 1981. Before the separation from USSR. That’s why it has Soviet emblem on the shield it’s wielding.
    On the same square there’s WWII Museum. Patriot Ukrainians may feel proud from all that. I for myself, don’t enjoy such things about battles, tanks, weapons and men poking each other, projecting power, in the past. So I can’t say enjoyed here. It’s not something pretty here anyway. 102 metres high freak.
    On our way back in an awesome park, Pınar asked if I have a photo of myself throwing dead
    leaves away. Clearly I don’t! And like I said earlier, Pınar is a hardworking photographer.
    I’d like to go to many other places with her.
    We wanted to take a boat ride across Dnieper. But we waited so long for the way it works
    there, so we changed our minds.
    We crossed Dnieper with a bridge over it.
    Then we crossed it back. That’s a swimming hotel.
    And that’s a graffiti on the wall of the train station.
    We took many pictures since we found that great orange tone.
    We bought some souvenirs at the end of the day. Chernobyl is really close to here. There are no Hard Rock Cafes nearby except in Moscow. I bought two for Ata and Nil. That’s their first fake HRC t­shirts.
    And in our last day, we meet with an old friend, Salih, who lives in Kiev for 13 years now.
    His aunt, Füsun, is someone I love so much, as I told you in my Cunda trip… Salih is married to a pretty woman and has three kids. He’ll be moving to Germany by the end of the year and who knows where we’ll meet again next time. Thanks Salih!
    Hours before our flight with Ukraine International Airlines, Haluk said “I got 1000 Grivna left, let me buy
    you ladies some sushi.” We didn’t make him repeat himself.
    And on 4th October 2015 Sunday, late afternoon, here we are at Kiev Boryspil Airport.
    Pretty legs shown from a lady in check­in line for the camera. Think I’d miss it? Ha!
    Thank you pretty Ukraine! We werent expecting such pretty 4 days from you. I pray that all the violence in your borders will stop soon.
    Let me answer the question “why should I go to Kiev?”
    No visa required, really close to Turkey, very cheap, Ukraine Airlines offers a cheap flight, City’s great and calm and modern. It’s like you won’t see all Kiev just in 4 days.
    I know you’ll remember Ruslana when you hear the word Ukraine. Oh well, here’s some Ruslana as the song of this trip.