I have recently been for a few days to Kiev to see if the city is ready to host all the European football supporters this Summer. 🙂 After mailing with my colleagues at the Intercontinental Kiev Hotel and researching on the Internet, I was somehow prepared about what to expect. We had a pleasant cheap flight with KLM. Arriving at the airport we decided to take a bus because the recommended taxi price of € 35.00 ( via the internet and hotel ) for a transfer into town which seemed a little expensive. The new airport and train service to the center isn’t ready until the summer and the bus service also needs modernizing. The bus was from the 1960’s and was jam packed with passengers and luggage. The windows quickly steamed up! The cost was € 2.50 per person so we couldn’t really grumble, it was a shame that we couldn’t see out of the windows:-) We arrived at Kiev’s Central Railway Station where we asked the way to the Metro station. Unfortunately things are only signposted in Ukrainian and Russian so the only option was to ask people. After asking 3 people, we decided to take a taxi instead and discovered that the taxi’s outside the station are as bad as the taxi’s we have outside our Central Station in Amsterdam. The 3 km trip took us 20 minutes and cost 15.00 Euros (traffic jams are terrific in Kiev) Once there we were swiftly helped inside.
The Intercontinental Kiev Hotel, is a newly build Hotel in neoclassical style and somehow similar to the George V Hotel in Paris. It has a luxurious ambience and was heaven to be in for a few nights. The best place to be is the trendy B-Hush bar-restaurant on the top floor of the hotel. Where the pretty waitresses wear dresses with a split right up to there upper thigh, which is nice for the hot blooded males! The Hotel also has a great Health Club and swimming pool
There are trendy restaurants are all over the place but surprisingly expensive and comparable to our prices here. As a result we ate nearly all meals in the Hotel where the food was superb and we were lucky to get 50% discount on all the food and drinks which made it rather acceptable;-) During the day we visited a few of the beautiful churches and monasteries (some were more than a 1000 years old) and walked a lot. It was again an experience to use the public transport system which is very difficult to work out because of the different alphabet. Luckily the younger generation speak good English and helped us find our way around. The metro maps are to be found inside the trains which is a bit late if you have already entered. We managed to get out at the right station for our visit to the famous Pechersk Lavra Church and Monasteries.
Kiev is beautifully laid out, the old center is very hilly but the newer parts have large boulevards and big squares. There is a cable car service from the river in order to get back to the center. The city was beautifully decorated with Christmas lighting and has a good variety of shops including all the large chain shops we are used to in this part of Europe. 1 euro gives you 10 Ukrainian hryvnia so its easy to work out. Take care when going out late at night as the police are keen to stop you and check that you are carrying the right documentation. If you fail to do so, they may charge you a small fine. Afterwards we were told that you are not obliged to carry ID ??? Whatever you do, stay calm and play it cool with the local police and don’t let them intimidate you! The concierge told me that his guests feel safest in the Hotel and don’t recommend you to go to the police when in troubles as the problem may escalate. Apart from the small incident with the police which we laughed about, we did walk a lot, used all types of public transport and never felt unsafe. Going back to the airport we managed to get a taxi for €15.00 via a friend who is local, so if know your way around everything can be done for a lot less.
I highly recommend Kiev for a long weekend, if at all possible get yourself a guide as you may waist a lot of time finding your way around.
Happy New Year and happy traveling,