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Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Kiev tips and Pointers (and pointy shoes)

Kiev really wasn't what i expected though. It's changed a lot from the wild east days - hardly anyone packs a piece here anymore. (I do wonder where the 'every man has a gun' cutoff is nowadays...maybe Uzbekstan?..theres a thought for another story. It used to be anywhere east of Poland)  So here you basically have a normal emerging market with normal young people who, despite some serious dress sense issues, are quite ok, have dropped the 'uberspud' mobster role models, and want to look outwards at the world with a smile.

Getting there

Get the bus from the airport, its quite easy so i don't have to explain it. It takes you to the main train station at the edge of the centre - you can walk, get a cab, or metro from there where you need to go. (taxi from airport is about 230 locals currency, if you get a normal cab its 140 - or $14 odd)
Kiev (Pechersk Lavra)- These guys plainly had something going for them at one stage


So anyway, arriving at Kiev, where to stay? there are 3 main hostels that I checked out. Kiev Hostel on 5 Pushkin street (see here for list of Hostels) was actually pretty good and clean and cheap and well located. We also stayed at 'One step' just round the corner which was pretty ok too, despite some freaks staying there, like a guy who washes his hands every 30 seconds. And German families. Only Germans would bring their families to a hostel in Kiev for their summer holiday. But they do a pub crawl every night and have really nice staff.

 The weirdest place, which i suggest you avoid is 'Really Central' Hostel. Which is quite ironic as its impossible to find. If you are looking for it by the way, its hidden at the block behind where its supposed to be, you need to go under some underpass and up some stairs. If you look hard there is a small paper sign giving you a clue it exists. We got there though eventually and there was no staff there at all (even after waiting 30mins) and some kind of messed up French Canadian semi hooker crackhead chick turned up and started asking us for money. In the hostel hallway. The place was small and stuffy and smelled bad anyway.

Best thing to do is contact kiev apartments and you can get an apartment for really cheap in the centre, on a daily basis. It was $68 a night for 2 of us in a 2 bed place.

Kiev itself isn't so cheap. Anyway here are the basics -

Food -
The best food we ate was in 'Buddha Bar' but its pricey. That's pretty much the same all along the main street. I ate in 'Mafia' too, which had tiny portions and no potatoes for some reason. Theres a good middle market Japanese chain called Mirakami. But basically, if it looks glamourous, it will be overpriced but good food, and if it looks Soviet, it will all taste of cabbage no matter what you buy.

Drinking - 
You know, if you're looking for a shag with a random chick and don't really care what age she is or what she looks like, then go to Vodka Bar (on the main street, at the main square) or Shooters (get a taxi) they are busy every night pretty much, and are Kiev's versions of Tallinns Nimeta bar, full of lithe teenagers eager to pounce on unwary good looking charming foreigners. Shooters is owned by a Scotsman and the staff bizzarely all wear kilts.

If you happen to have taste, then your options are more limited. There are numerous glammy places with swish names, you know the usual Eastern European moneytrash pits, but they aren't much fun unless you are fat and bald and like beautiful hookers (who i understand from other blogposts can fall in love with you for $300 a night, dear fat bald guy)

The best all round area to go for nightlife is probably the Arena area. We started off (luckily with pals who live here) in a nearby place called Ikon, which is quite sophisticated for Kiev, if it wasn't full of expats and the usual smattering of young models. Anyway, our models wen't to Arena, a place called 'Mantra' which looked quite good if you like las vegasy clubs. I decided not to pay 30 Euros entry and went to 'Piggy' next door which was great - good retro music, more studenty, free entry, lots of very drunk but normalish people, a bit more of an artsy vibe. Anyway the atmosphere was great and there may have even been some drunk pogo dancing in there one night last week....

There's also Arena in there which is more for the fat bald hooker lover category, i understand.

The other option in Kiev are the Irish Bars - Golden Gate, O Briens, and Lucky Bar. Full of foreign blokes drinking beer and playing pool if you like that kind of thing. And girls who like to marry foreign guys, if you like that kind of thing.

And finally if the above is not enough and you want real up to date info. check my pal Vijai's site kiev tonite which gives up to date reviews on all the cool shops, bars, clubs, restaurants, name it, in Kiev.

Independance Square, Kiev

Sights -
Tourism in Ukraine is not set up for the benefit of tourists. This is an ex soviet country remember. There are lots of beautiful churches, you can get a boat ride down the river, and there is a lovely statue on the hill. As or Art Galleries and museums, forget it. We tried all weekend, but they were either closed for the holidays (i.e. the times when people might like to visit them) or were closing so a babushka wouldn't let us in anyway.  The other option is to get stitched by the main tourist thing - go to Chernobil. You don't even have to wear a suit anymore, you can go on your own, and it looks pretty boring. And the tour package normally costs about $200 for the daytrip.  You can also shoot AK47's .

Annoying things.

Ukranian Police solving crimes
Police -
true to form, Ukranian Police are your worst enemy here in ex-soviet land. Always bring your passport with you - They actively seek out foreigners, especially drunk ones, and especially at night, in order to extract bribes from you (i saw some guys hand over $200!) Anyway, if you see any, best cross the street - they're at best a nuisance and at worse can ruin your holiday.

Drunks and Robbers -
They aren't nearly as dangerous as the police but they still roam about in gangs, especially at the underpasses in the centre at night. Usually they are too drunk to do much damage and (as my friend found out could possible be good fun as punchbags) Anyway the main thing to bear in mind is that the Police are not on your side here so don't bother with them.

Shoes and Clothing -

See previous post. I always encourage travellers to 'go ethnic' when visiting a new country. DO NOT FORGET to go to your local charity shop and buy a pair of white pointed leather (even better crocodile skin) pointy shoes. Slip on's are preferred here. If you can't find a pair, just steal your dads old Golf shoes.  But don't be surprised if people start talking to you in Ukrainian or Russian. Or if they have watched Borat, Khazakstani.    You are still likely to be turned down from the more trendy clubs if you aren't wearing a cream suit, or perhaps one of those nasty purple shirts that pass for fashion in places like Munich or Brisbane, so don't say you weren't warned.


  1. dear German friends, forgive me re the comments on your fashion sense. but lets face it, for Gods sake - David Hasselhoff is a rock star in Germany.

    And look down. Yes, they are white socks under your sandals.

  2. When you go to Kiev for a Ukraine vacation, you definitely should visit local nightclubs! Baeutiful girls make Ukraine tourism unforgettable. So joyful atmosphere, so beautiful girls! Ukraine vacation guide created a list of the best Kyiv night clubs. If you know more goog places, you can add them to the Ukraine travel guide.