Dris came thru and knocked on the door at 6:30am for a first wake-up call. We all got up, unmade our beds and got ready to disembark. Margaret(70, Australian) had been able to change bunks with one of her cabin mates so she was happy about that.
Once off the train, we hiked thru the train station to an overpass, allowing us to cross a busy road and reach the small bus Dris had hired to transport us to the hotel. I'm sure we were all a bedraggled looking group, everyone was tired and Nyarie was especially not happy about having spent the night trapped in the upper bunk. She'd been afraid to get down and then to have to get back up.
We reached the Hotel Ukraine at 8:30ish. It was way too early to check in so we dropped our bags in the baggage storage room and went to find this great place for breakfast that Dris knew about. Was it close to the hotel? Of course not. We had a 15 minute walk (walk of the zombies?) to this place. It was a cafeteria type restaurant. Dris told us to have our breakfast and be ready at 9:30 to meet our guide who would be giving us a 3 hour walking tour of Kiev! I think we all groaned. We were tired, hot and just wanted to shower and rest.
But Taia came and we walked...and walked... for 3 hours.
Kiev, is the capital and largest city of Ukraine, the 7th most populous city in Europe. Kiev is the Russian spelling but now most Ukrainians spell it Kyiv.
Highlights from the pics:
#3; our hotel, the Hotel Ukraine. The hotel was built in 1961 as the Hotel "Moscow". Right on the Maidan Square.
#4: Maidan Square (Independence Square) is the central square of Kiev. The square has been the traditional place for political rallies, including four large-scale radical protest campaigns: the 1990 student "Revolution on Granite", the 2001 "Ukraine without Kuchma", the 2004 Orange Revolution, and the 2013–14 Euromaidan, also known as the Revolution of Dignity. I won't go into all the details of the 2014 Euromaidan event (you can read about it at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Ukrainian_revolution) but the pillar things you see are memorials to the 100 people who were killed and the whole revolution. Apparently government snipers used the upper windows of our hotel to shoot upon the crowd.
#7: top: St. Sophia Cathedral square: Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev is an outstanding architectural monument of Kievan Rus'. Today, it is one of the city's best known landmarks and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Kyiv’s oldest standing church, St. Sophia’s was built in 1037 by Prince Yaroslav the Wise.
Middle right: statue of Bohdan Khmelnytsky (c. 1595- 6 August 1657), a cossack who led an uprising against the Commonwealth and its magnates (1648–1654) that resulted in the creation of a state led by the Cossacks of Ukraine.
Bottom right: The monument to Princess Olga consists of a central statue of Olga, statues of Cyril and Methodius on the right, and the monument to the Apostle Andrew to the left of the Princess. Princess Olga was the first and only female head of state in the history of Ukraine.
Bell tower: The bell tower of St. Sophia's cathedral is 76 metres high. It is built in the shape of a stepped pyramid of four tiers & an example of Ukrainian 18th-century architecture. It was built from 1699 to 1706.
#8: the Globe monument, located on Maidan square. It has, around its base, the distances from Kiev to all the world's capitols. Washington DC is 7828 km.
#9: St. Andrew's church: a Baroque church. The church was constructed between 1747 and 1754, to a design by the Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli. As the church sits atop a hill, foundation problems have been one of the main concerns of preservationists. More recently, the foundation below the church has started to shift, causing some concerns that the church's foundation might collapse. Saint Andrew's Church was built in honor of Saint Andrew who is recognized as the "Apostle of Rus". The current structure of the Saint Andrew's Church began when Russian Empress Elizabeth decided to construct a summer residence for herself in Kiev, consisting of a palace and a church in 1744.
So of course we hiked up hills (St. Sophia's cathedral is up a steep hill from Maidan Square) and down hills (down from St. Andrew's) and round and round. Taia was quite knowledgeable and we did learn a lot but it was just soooo long. FINALLY, we finished up around 1pm and by the time we got back to the hotel, we were able to go to our rooms. We showered and took a nap! We'd meant to go ride the Hop on/hop off bus to see a wider area of Kiev but we overslept and didn't have enough time because it stopped running at 5pm. In the end, we just relaxed until meeting everyone in the lobby to hike (seriously) to the dinner restaurant. Dris said it wasn't that far but it was a good 15 minute walk—up hill.
The restaurant was a traditional Ukrainian one (what else) with a little musical entertainment (guy on an accordian and couple of young ladies singing). I had pelmeni (the tortellini-like dumplings) and Jef had chicken. It was similar to what we've been having.
Picture #12 shows the restaurant; the top pic is a flight of vodkas that Bjorn ordered. It was such a neat presentation that I had to take a pic! The vodkas were, from left to right: blueberry, plain, horseradish, pepper and cranberry. There were little round canapes to go with each drink.
After dinner, we walked back down the hill to Maidan square where the fountains were lit up and dancing to the recorded music being played—like the Bellagio in Vegas. Jef, Nyarie and I sat and enjoyed that for almost an hour. It was wonderful. They run the light and music from May thru the end of September from 9-11pm, Tuesday thru Saturday. There's 1 large fountain and 6 smaller ones.
It was the end of a long day! Tomorrow, our last day, is one we're really looking forward to—the Chernobyl tour.