Kiev, day 2
Larisa, Alesia’s mom, came over to visit, and she brought over ingredients to make a beautiful meal. Larisa studied English in school, but without practice, it’s hard to keep a language in your head. She’s adorable, though! I’m happy I got to meet her.
Alesia also took the time to help me book a two-hour Thai massage at Kinari (₴1,000) in the early afternoon. (In actuality, I probably could’ve booked it myself since it turns out that the staff speaks English very well.) The facilities there are nice and clean: you get a locker in which to store your things, and you can take a shower before you change into the provided massage shirt and shorts. The staff took the initiative to swap out the clothes set out for me into a smaller size so that it would fit better. I really enjoyed the massage and even dozed off multiple times. (It was a much better experience than the one I had in Riga.)
After my massage, I met up with Alesia in front of [St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral]. I admired the star-adorned domes atop the yellow building and the amazing frescoes painted by Mikhail Vrubel, among other artists. By the way, you will be asked to purchase a photo ticket (₴50) or video ticket (₴100) if they spot you with your camera.
Our primary mission was to hunt for murals around Kiev, and during our urban trek, I came across a couple of sights that caught my attention that were not murals. First was a McDonald’s in a building you wouldn’t think would have a McDonald’s in it. Next was a unique clock that also pointed in the direction of major cities around the world.
See my post about street art in Kiev to get a look at the murals and public art we encountered.
Alesia took me to Peizazhna Alley not just for the awesome mosaic sculptures, which I included in my post about street art in Kiev, but also for the northward view of the city.
We then walked down Andrew’s Descent, which is where St. Andrew’s Church is. But it’s currently closed for repairs. The photo I took of it from Peizazhna Alley looks better than if you were to be up close. The street itself was cobblestone, and a restaurant named Kanapa is located in a wooden house. I wasn’t hungry at the time, but it looks like a fancy place to have bourgeoisie Ukrainian food.
To fuel our walk, we went to Honey for some eclairs (₴42 each). They had so many different flavors! We ended up with pistachio and passion fruit. I preferred the pistachio since it was less sweet.
Later, we went to Ostannya Barykada. I had no idea what to expect, and Alesia hadn’t been there either. It’s located in the Globus Mall, and she asked the security guard how to get there. He said the only way to reach it is by elevator, and you have to push their specific button.
When we arrived, the place just looked like a bar with a huge QR code at the end of the hall. Alesia asked the staff in Ukrainian what the deal was, and they said there was a password. They told me (not Alesia) to scan the QR code and read it to them because it would be more entertaining if I spoke Ukrainian than she did.
First obstacle overcome! Then we had to choose the right hand to open the secret entrance to the actual restaurant. I got it on the first try and surprised Alesia.
The kitchen was not quite open, but you could still see what was going on.
The restaurant was made up of multiple areas with different design elements in each.
The menu is in both Ukrainian and English, so that made life a bit easier for me. The waitstaff carry around tablets so that they can immediately place orders for you as you speak.
We started with the OB gin cocktail (₴89) and also got the borsch (₴58), varenyky with potatoes and foie gras (₴89), and cabbage rolls (₴89). Everything tasted delicious, and I loved the roll that came with the borsch.
Alesia was impressed with the place and planned to bring friends and visitors here. I guess Foursquare is good for discovering new places since this restaurant was ranked number one for Ukranian food in Kiev!
After dinner, we walked to the Friendship of Nations Arch, but it was super dark. We wondered if the city was trying to save energy by keeping all of the lights off. Or perhaps Ukrainians don’t really care about the “friendship” with Russia that this arch commemorates. Oh, well: the night view of Dnipro River was nice.
We also went by Marinyinsky Palace and the Gorodetsky House, but the former was fenced off for repairs (surprise!), and the latter had two layers of fences for security. Alesia had me ask the guards at the Gorodetsky House if we could walk to the inner fence to see the house. Initially, they were hesitant and looked at Alesia since they suspected that she probably spoke Ukrainian, but one of their girlfriends who was hanging out with them came to speak with me in English. She told them in Ukrainian that they should just tell me in English that I can come in, but they were shy about it, so she did it for them. I thanked them, and we strolled past some government buildings to the inner fence and looked at the varied chimaeras on the house. Alesia told me that the architect built the house for his mad daughter, and the chimaeras are recreations of her visions. Supposedly, you can tour the inside of the building only on Saturdays, but you have to submit proof of identity, and it can take two weeks for international visitors.
I had such a great time hanging out with Alesia today. What a sweet person she is!