I booked into a hotel in Kiev that was not too fancy costing Rs 2500 for one night. As I arrived at the hotel, I asked for my luggage to be taken upstairs. The hostess at the reception politely declined and said this is a three-star property, sir. You have to take it up yourself. I coolly walked into my room which was small but cosy. Kiev gave me the first glimpse of an Eastern European country with tardy roads, garbage on the street and graffiti on the walls. The women here are beautiful but the men are very serious looking more like army soldiers. I booked a package tour from a local agency on my third day in the city. An eight-day package tour around the city of Kiev and Lviv cost me 800 Euros with hotel and airport transfer along with an entire day tour of Chernobyl.
My guide for the tour around Kiev was Anna, a beautiful girl who was my hostess through the maze of the city. Our first stop was the Red University near Taras Shevchenko Park. I took out my GoPro and let Anna be the companion for the day. It was through her eyes that I would take the journey around the city.
Anna spoke fluent English and thus, was a great anchor for my Travelthon. She kept talking and I followed with my GoPro behind her. This was going to be one great partnership. With the rain, the weather was almost freezing. St. Vladimir’s Cathedral, Opera House and Golden Gate was our next stops.
We walked a lot during the day and took short breaks of coffee and sausage buns. “You know Anna, I would love to see an Opera in Ukraine. It would be fun. I have never seen an opera.” Anna smiled “Well, let me see if we can arrange one for you on the weekend”.
The Sofia Cathedral was very beautiful and the old Renaissance architecture stood out from rest of the old buildings. Fresca paintings of saints and Christ on the ceiling and the walls of the cathedral gave it that spiritual look as people burned candles to say a prayer to the Lord.
I lit a candle to pray for my father’s soul as I usually do in all the spiritual places around the world. I was now getting the true flavour of this ancient yet delightful Eastern European country and I knew there was a lot more waiting for me to see and discover. At night, I settled down for a meal of Minestrone soup, beef and potatoes again. Sour cream is something heavily used in meals in this part of the world. I bid goodbye to Anna for the day and retired to bed dreaming about the fresco paintings of the Sophia Cathedral and the golden domes that adorned the churches of the city.