January 2006




Originally uploaded by elmada.

So, since leaving Kyiv, I’ve not really given an overall impression of the city, nor have I completely thanked Katya’s family for hosting me.

Without further ado, I will address the second point:

Dear Katya’s Family:

Thank you ever so much for hosting me over New Year’s Eve. Your willingness to include this oddball American in your family’s activities has impressed me more than I could begin to express in English, never mind your native Russian. Your generosity was most impressive and completely unnecessary.

Firstly, everybody in your family is a fantastic cook: I cannot recall having enjoyed so many different meals in a row since my last visit to New Orleans. Your family’s cooking is incredibly diverse and tasty. Secondly, thank you for including me in Grandfather Frost and Granddaughter Snowgirl’s present distribution-this was completely unexpected and I received presents I shall treasure forever (or at least until I finish the bottle). Finally, I realize that although I never forgot my name, I did enjoy the vodka.

I cannot thank you enough, this was a New Year’s Eve that I will treasure forever.


Now for the first point—My overall impression of Kyiv.

The timing of my trip to Kyiv was most unfortunate for the city’s beauty. The day before I arrived, the city was blanketed in deep snow, and the day I arrived, the snow melted under a constant patter of above-freezing rain, a recipe sure to make even the most beautiful city look a bit dingy.

However, I can compare Kyiv to two other post-Communist capital cities I have visited in the past year: Prague and Tallinn. Kyiv is lagging behind both of these cities in terms of redevelopment. The Czech Republic and Estonia both moved rapidly to join the European Union after the end of Communism meaning that both capitals are rejuvenating. (That’s not to say that both are perfect, but both are working that way.)

Kyiv, on the other hand, spent a few indecisive years and it shows.

The infrastructure needs attention and maintenance of older buildings is still somewhat suspect. They’re still trying to reconstruct their past—something that needs to be balanced against building their present and future which is tricky when the average annual income is so low.

However, the city’s beauty does shine through—given green grass to cover up the muddy patches, one can see how Kyiv is a striking city with an intensely interesting history.

And it’s history is its strongest point: although they do not have a clear consistent story to tell about their past (Love the USSR/Hate the USSR), they don’t hesitate to show some of the bleaker points, including the item from World War II that I am still unable to bring myself to specifically identify (but… yeech!).

I definitely want to return and explore the city some more—preferably when it’s warmer out.

Chicken Kiev Finally, before I close out my discussion, I need to confess—I’ve done it in Hamburg(er), Frankfurt(er), and Berlin (Berliner, a cream filled donut), so I did it in Kyiv: Chicken Kyiv.

And the Garden Gnome? That was a Christmas present from MT—someone to travel with. He enjoyed his share of the meal.

Photos: Everything I am going to post to Flickr from the trip is now up, so please check out my “Kyiv, Ukraine” photo set.

4 comments to Спасибо

  • ChrisC

    I really like your new hairdo!

  • MT

    Damn! The gnome has gotten more mileage than I have. 😉

  • mateo

    My question combines the two comments above mine Adam:

    Is the garden gnome your new hair stylist??? And why don’t you ever wear your hair like that when we go out clubbing? I’m sure all the guys would really go for it!!!!! heh.

  • The gnome’s personality is a bit stoney…

    my hair has returned to normal, but i should have the wig back soon. I’ll try wearing it out in Erfurt. I bet i have good luck with it!