Recently, I've told a lot of people that Kyiv has exceeded my expectations. Sure, it might be the honeymoon period talking, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the city's vibrancy. Even though it is a major European-style capital, somehow I was anticipating a sulky Soviet vibe. But Kyiv is full of energy, with nary a weekend without something happening.
To wit, a while back, TJ and I headed to the National Botanical Garden (not to be confused with the Kyiv Botanical Garden) to bask in the Big Georgian Fest (top). The festival featured Georgian staples, including traditional dance (middle left), homemade wine, and Borjomi water, which was the event sponsor (middle right). But really, we came for the food. There was Chakhokhbili on offer (bottom left), but we were on the hunt for Khachapuri and Khinkali. We managed to snag a few types of the national bread, but we didn't realize until too late that we had to order the dumplings in advance, so we settled for some Shashlik (bottom right).
We had a similar grilled dinner at Kyiv's version of Oktoberfest, Zibert Fest, named for the Montenegrin beer sponsoring the drunken scrum (left). We were hoping for some authentic sausages and pretzels, but considering even the pints weren't German, it's no surprise that our meal was no more than the standard pay-by-the-pound fare (right).
Actually, we found more legitimately ethnic food at the Street Food Festival at Art-Zavod Platforma (top), where I slurped some decent Asian noodles. The former silk factory has been turned into a "city within a city," where festival stalls frequently are erected amid the creative businesses that have permanent locations there (middle left). The creativity extended to some of the food vendors, such as one that made croquettes with inventive fillings, including chicken Kyiv (middle right). About a month later, we returned to the grounds for the Kyiv Beer Festival (bottom), where I obtained a true foreign delicacy replicated locally: pumpkin beer.Depeche Mode concert (left). To be honest, I didn't know the band was still putting out music, but they definitely got my renewed interest by singing "Where's the Revolution?" (right), which was particularly impactful considering recent events in Ukraine.
Olympic Stadium, home base of Kyiv Dynamo. At the match I saw, the team competed against Donetsk Shakhtar, a squad that has relocated to Kharkiv because of the Donbas conflict (top left). There was no civic bent to the halftime show, unless you count the fact that the vocalist was accompanied by a woman playing the bandura, Ukraine's national instrument (top right). The main entertainment, however, occurred consistently throughout the game, as the fan zone slowly increased its intimidation from signs and scarves (bottom left) to firecrackers and flares (bottom right). A friend told me the spectacle escalates even further when someone scores, but unfortunately, I didn't get to witness that during the 0-0 draw.
a place we only skimmed during my initial visit to Kyiv. Upon further investigation, we found two roads diverging in a yellow wood (top left) near an overgrown grave of, if my translation is correct, a victim of the Nazi-era labor camps (top right). We skirted an inland pond (middle top) before heading toward the other end of the island, where Dovbychka nudist beach is located (middle left) but where thankfully we saw only some of the city's major tourist sites -- the Motherland Monument and Pechersk Lavra (middle right) -- in the flesh. After about three hours of walking, we returned, as always, to food; I had a late breakfast of Shakshouka at PR Bar (bottom).