Kiev or Kyiv is a very historical place and one of the most populous city in Ukraine. Some travelers say that the cost of living or expenses is very cheap. This city has been featured as one of the cheapest place to visit.
There are many things to see in Kiev, histories of the past that once has been under the rule of Soviet era. On my visit last March 2016, I just wanted to see the Pechersk Lavra. On queue for entry to the city, passport stamping, the Immigration officer asked the number of days I will be staying in the city, what I will do, and two more questions and he stamped my passport on my prearranged Ukraine Visa.
I took a bus on a bright wintry weather going to the main city. First I changed currency and the bus is just outside the airport. Some but most of the people I encounter, those not in the customer service related jobs, they do not speak English, maybe few words.
On the bus, I was seated beside an old lady, although she does not speak English but when I mentioned to her where I want to go, the words she knew “Vokzalna Metro” she nodded that the bus is going there. She also told me where to get off the bus. The bus ride took 45minutes.
Contrary to what I read, the road signs are all translated to English, so you will not get lost. Instead of taking Metro to Pechersk Lavra, I took a taxi for 6$ equivalent to their currency 150 Ukrainian Hryvnia. I guess my pronunciation of Pechersk is wrong and the taxi driver did not understand me at all. So what I did, I showed him a map that I bought on the airport, pointed the Lavra and he took me there. To be easier, mentioning “Lavra” only is better. Everyone will understand it. The taxi mentioned many places and buildings to see when we pass by. The Khreshchatyk, Maidan Nezalezhnosti which is for rallies and concerts and which stands the Ukraine Independence Monument, we also pass to St Volodymyr’s Cathedral ad the statue of the founder of the city, Kyi, Shchek, Khoriv and their sister Lybid.
The taxi dropped me at the side entrance. There are different charges or entry fee. Since I have a camera with me, they will ask you to pay a different price which is very affordable.I paid like 10$ for entrance fee with Camera You can ask for a map of the place and you can pay also for a guide to the caves below that cost. Unfortunately, even I wanted to visit the caves, they told me that one day is not enough to see the place and the caves. So I just wandered on the churches around.
Pechersk Lavra is located on the hill overlooking the city, I didn’t know that until I got there and saw the skyscrapers of Kiev opposite the Dnieper river. The Trinity Gate chruch is where the entrance ad attached to it was a great history on how it was built.
There are many churches and building around, total of 50 or more. Some of the famous churches and buildings are: The Great Bell Tower, Dormition Cathedral, Holy Water Ciborium which has a black roof & fence, Refectory- St. Anthony and St. Theodosius Church, Church of the Virgin Nativity, Bell Tower of Far Off Caves, Church of the All Pechersky Saints, Cross Exaltation Church, Entrance to the Nearby Caves Labyrinth, St. Ann Conception Church.
The monastery compound is vast. Each Church and building plays an important role in Kiev’s history. Aside from visiting the churches, they have restaurants, cafes, books shops, art galleries, embroidery shops and many souvenirs shops.Take note also that some women (old), they are very conservative and they don’t want their image to be part of the picture you have taken. That is base on my experience, when an old woman walking thought I took a photo of her, she confronted me and I told here I did not take any pictures of her. Showed her the pictures in my camera and she felt relieved. They also cover their heads with some handkerchief or scarf.
Take 2 or 3 days when visiting Kiev, there are many things to see which I did not have enough time. I would love to see someday, and walk through cobbled stones and pathways of Andriyivskyy Descent, see old houses of writers and painters on that area, visit the the Castle of Richard the Lionheart, and just sit on their gardens.
Its not a common route for backpacking and not YET a main tourist destinations. Overall, Kiev will surprise you. People are very friendly and will help you on what you ask even by hand gestures. Air Ticket is economical and the cost of items are cheap.
Explore while you can!. Enjoy.