Kyiv 2014

My trip to a post-revolutionary Ukraine

March 6 (Thursday at Mila's favorite places)

Mila wanted to take me to her favorite park, Peizazhna Alley (more photos here and here, and history here). This turned out to be only a few steps away from where we'd been the day before, looking for views just off of Andriyivskyy Descent. This park is full of three-dimensional mosaics for kids to play on, serving as benches, jungle gyms, and so forth. One particularly large and creative one was based upon Alice in Wonderland. Other three-dimensional art was nearby, both for children and for adults (traditional statues).

Bench
Bench

Alice in Wonderland jungle gym
Alice in Wonderland jungle gym

We then went into the Lviv Chocolate Factory for hot drinks and truffles. I had hot chocolate, while she, as usual, had latte. I'd buy some truffles on a later day, but I'm afraid they weren't really set up to be transported, so I ate them before returning to the States. I waited for a later day because the place was mobbed with people buying chocolate for International Women's Day, which there stands in place of both Mother's Day and St. Valentine's Day. Curiously, though, most of the people buying chocolates — and seen transporting flowers on subsequent days — were women themselves.

Our drinks at Lviv Chocolate Factory, with shoppers and other patrons in the background
Our drinks at Lviv Chocolate Factory, with shoppers and other patrons in the background

We then walked through other highly trafficked areas of Kyiv, including past the Roshen brand chocolate store. More on it, and its significance, later. Across the street from the Roshen store is the Pinchuk Art Centre, which shows various exhibitions. When I was there, the main exhibit regarded colonialism in the Congo region with pictorial assemblages made of colorful beetle carcasses. I don't regret seeing them, but I wasn't tempted to take one home.

For lunch, we went again to Z.B., the restaurant in the Maidan area, walking up the main approach, so I got to see where the open road ended and the tents began. This time my dumplings had potato rather than cheese, the salad bar had a slightly different selection, and I had a light pastry, which Mila insisted wasn't sweet, but which seemed sweet enough to me. I also had grape juice; due to a mistranslation, I thought it might have been pomegranate. When you know hardly any of the language, sometimes you guess wrong.

After she went back to teach, I walked around the Euromaidan area a bit more, seeing more of both the outskirts and the central Independence Square (Maidan). One of the things I saw was a person nonchalantly walking by in a zebra costume. This was not the first person in animal costume I'd seen around town. I wasn't sure if it was a promotion, or entertainment, or a scam of some sort. They generally congregated in similar areas as the "dove men," men who carried fancy, white doves, though I was never clear on whether they were trying to sell them, have them pose, or something else. I only know that the one English-language "review" for Lovers' Bridge voted it a "one" because of "2 guys ... who will put Doves on you and then expect you to pay 100ua without giving you a chance to decline." So I avoided them all.

The "heavenly hundred," those killed at Maidan
The 'heavenly hundred,' those killed at Maidan

Euromaidan food preparation area ("Grill, not trashcan!!!")
Euromaidan food preparation area ('Grill, not trashcan!!!')

Food served up to those in Maidan
Food served up to those in Maidan

A couple walking through Maidan
A couple walking through Maidan

The far side of the square looks similar to how it might during normal times, except for the thousands of flowers placed in memoriam.
The far side of the square looks similar to how it might during normal times, except for the thousands of flowers placed in memoriam.

The other direction
The other direction

Replacing the sidewalk bricks in front of an Internet café
Replacing the sidewalk bricks in front of an Internet café

Another view of the main protest area with booths, flags, Euromaidan "Christmas tree," and person in zebra costume.
Another view of the main protest area with booths, flags, Euromaidan 'Christmas tree,' and person in zebra costume.

Another view of the "Christmas tree," with memorial flowers and candles at the bottom
Another view of the 'Christmas tree,' with memorial flowers and candles at the bottom

A barricade in front of high-rises, old and new, at the edge of the Euromaidan area going south on Khreshchatyk
A barricade in front of high-rises, old and new, at the edge of the Euromaidan area going south on Khreshchatyk

A closer look at the barricade, showing its make-up: tires, sandbags, bricks, signs, and a bed frame.
A closer look at the barricade, showing its make-up: tires, sandbags, bricks, signs, and a bed frame.

From there, I walked to St. Volodymir's Cathedral, the inside of which is a seamless mix of classical and art nouveau, the latter including stained glass, much of the entryway, the bordering and edge patterns, and even some frescos. It is in the museum district, which is centered around Taras Shevchenko Park, the greenery of which contrasts with a maroon-red university building.

St. Volodymir's Cathedral
St. Volodymir's Cathedral

Up close
Up close

Taras Shevchenko University
Taras Shevchenko University

The nearby Metro station, Universytet, apparently has one of the world's longest escalators, at 87 meters. (The deeper Arsenalna instead has a series of two long escalators.) I went down and then took the subway to the Babyn Yar memorial, at the ravine where the Nazis killed thousands of Jews, and subsequently others, in arguably the first wholesale massacre of the Holocaust. I should actually say "memorials," since both north and south of the subway stop are multiple memorials. First I saw one to the children killed there, just to the station's northwest. This was quite near where the massacre occurred, but my guidebook told me to look for a menorah. I found an addition plaque with a menorah in the ravine itself, but that wasn't what the guidebook meant. Southeast of the station was a cross (for Ukrainian nationalists killed there), and, further to the south, the massive Soviet memorial statue, with no mention having been made, of course, of the religion of those first massacred there. Finally, I found a list of memorials with GPS coordinates and was able to find the Jewish memorial, a menorah well to the east of the station. I wonder how many people have tried to pay tribute to the victims of the tragedy, only to be foiled by the confusing geography. Directions relative to the station or the giant television tower — supposedly the tallest lattice tower in the world, though you wouldn't know it through the fog — would have helped greatly here. In the end, though, I saw them all, albeit getting back later than expected.

Memorial to the children, in front of Babyn Yar park, the ravine in which the massacre took place
Memorial to the children, in front of Babyn Yar park, the ravine in which the massacre took place

The park now functions much as you'd expect a park to, even during gloomy days
The park now functions much as you'd expect a park to, even during gloomy days

Across the street is the monument to Ukrainian nationalists...
Across the street is the monument to Ukrainian nationalists...

...and the Soviet monument.
...and the Soviet monument.

The Jewish monument takes some time to find.
The Jewish monument takes some time to find.

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