When we checked into the hotel last night, we had to choose our breakfast from a picture menu. The options all looked much of a muchness, the main difference being whether you wanted your eggs scrambled or fried. We made a split second decision and asked if we could have it at 9am, but by the time it got to this morning I wasn't entirely sure what it was we were going to receive.
9am came around and our door bell rang - breakfast was being delivered to us! It looked... interesting. I definitely don't remember there being so much greenery in the photos on the menu!
Once my salad was safely in the bin, I was left with some very dry sort of bread, scrambled egg which had a very odd feathery herb through it and what was allegedly sausage, but tasted more like a hot dog. The pancakes were nice; mine were stuffed with cherries and drizzled with chocolate sauce, although one of them was slightly contaminated by the unnecessary slices of orange. At least the coffee was good
Once we'd eaten what we could of breakfast, we set out to explore Kiev. Not far from our hotel we found the Mariyinsky Palace, which is the official home of the president of Ukraine.
The building with the big dome next to the palace is the Ukrainian parliament. There were armed police on guard outside.
When you get closer to the building, you can't see the dome any more.
Across the road we found what looked like another large government building. This one caught our attention because it had the EU flag flying outside it as well as the Ukrainian one!
From here we began to walk into the centre of the town, towards the main square, Maidan Nezalezhnosti.
Unfortunately, when we got here we found it was rather busy! There was some sort of festival going on in Kiev today and it seemed to involve a marathon or something similar. There were thousands of people in the square getting ready to take part in a race.
We just about managed to push our way through the square, resolving to come back tomorrow when it would (hopefully!) be emptier and take proper photos then.
We walked down what seemed like a main shopping street, before coming to a place which looked familar... but different. This is where the statue of Lenin used to stand before it was toppled in December 2013.
This is what it looked like when we were here in 2011.
We walked uphill, towards Kiev's university, which is based in this rather striking red building.
Behind us was a park and statue dedicated to the Ukrainian poet, Taras Shevchenko.
We had come in this direction in search of a church which I remembered from our previous visit.
This is St Volodymyr's Cathedral.
It's a beautiful yellow building. I particularly love the blue roofs on the little towers
We walked all the way around it to get the best views
From the cathedral we walked through a square...
...and came to a little road where there were people in national costume, singing.
We were now standing outside the Golden Gate.
This is the site of the original gate into the 11th century fortifications of Kiev. The gate was dismantled in the Middle Ages and rebuilt in 1982 for the 1500th anniversary of Kiev.
The large statue outside the gate is of Yaroslav the Wise.
From here it wasn't far to St Sophia's Cathedral.
I remembered its beautiful blue bell tower from last time we were here.
In the square outside the cathedral, Tim paid 20 hryvnia (60p) to have his photo taken with these rather odd-looking doves.
They sat on his shoulders...
...and his head
Meanwhile I was on the other side of the square, taking photos of the bell tower
The square itself is very pretty...
and you can see lots of little domes in the cathedral complex behind the walls.
In the other direction, we could also make out St Michael's Golden-Domed monastery.
There's certainly no shortage of striking churches in Kiev. We didn't have to walk much further before we found St Andrew's.
The church is surrounded by a park, from where we got tantalising glimpses of it through the trees.
Nearby we stumbled across a sculpture park, which looked like it wouldn't have been out of place in Barcelona
Some of the sculptures were really cute...
...while others were slightly more bizarre!
As we left the sculpture park, we had a beautiful view back towards St Andrew's church.
We began to follow a path that led downwards...
...giving views of some very impressive buildings, some of which seemed to be embassies.
We reached a viewpoint from which we could see out over the city. I really loved these colourful roofs
The path then became increasingly busy and it felt like the entire population of Kiev had chosen the same place to have a Sunday walk We managed to push our way through the crowds and eventually emerged at the base of the church again.
It was around 2pm now and we were running late, because we were supposed to be meeting our Esperanto friend Kalle, who we last met in Malmo, at 2.30 outside the Arsenalna metro station. We were about a 50-minute walk from there at the moment, so needed to find a metro station if we stood any chance of not being completely late. As we could see from this viewpoint next to the church, Kiev is huge and finding a metro station wasn't necessarily going to be straightforward.
Having consulted the map, we decided that the best bet would be head back to Maidan Nezalezhnosti. On the way, we got a better view of St Michael's Monastery.
From here it wasn't far to the square, but once we got to the square it took a while to find the metro station because everywhere was still so busy with the festival/marathon thing. The Maidan metro station was on line number 2 and Arsenalna is on line number 1. When we consulted the metro map, we thought we could go one stop on line 2 and then change to line 1, but once we got down to the platforms that turned out not to be the case (as in, the station we wanted to go to wasn't listed as one of the stops), so we were quite confused. In the end we had to go back above ground, walk to a different station on line 1 and take the metro to Arsenalna from there. By the time we arrived we were a good 30 minutes late, although almost 10 minutes of those had been spent on escalators trying to get out of Arsenalna Luckily Kalle had waited for us!
We had lunch together in the restaurant of this rather Soviet-looking hotel on the left of the picture.
For lunch we had pelmeni, little dumplings filled with minced meat. They tasted a bit like ravioli
After lunch, we set off to explore some of the surrounding area. Not far from Arsenalna is a memorial park which commemorates the victims of famine in Ukraine.
The obelisk commemorates victims of WW2 and there's an eternal flame burning underneath it.
The candle-shaped monument is dedicated to famine victims.
Millions of people in Ukraine died of starvation between 1932 - 1933, as a result of Soviet collectivisation policies.
We were walking through the memorial park on our way to one of Kiev's most famous sites: the Pechersk Lavra monastery.
We bought tickets and passed through the main gate, to be confronted with a large silver egg (no idea what it was for!) and our first glimpse of the Dormition Cathedral.
The cathedral was originally built in the 11th century, but destroyed during WW2. It was restored in 1995, following Ukrainian independence.
The other striking building inside the monastery was this huge bell tower.
We bought tickets to climb to the top. There weren't actually as many steps as I was expecting, and before too long we made it to the first balcony.
We were able to look down at the cathedral
And we could see for miles out across Kiev...
...including getting a great view of the Motherland statue, which we remembered from our previous visit to Kiev.
We climbed a bit higher, to the part of the tower where the bells were.
The views were great from here as well.
And Kalle took a rare photo of us together
Then it was time to climb back down.
Underneath the bell tower was the grave of Pyotr Stolypin, the Russian minister who was assassinated in Kiev in 1911.
We strolled around the monastery for a bit longer, enjoying the wonderful views.
Then there was just time for some coffee and cake, before we went our separate ways
By the time we got back to the hotel we were both exhausted. Tim's Fitbit shows we got quite a few steps today!!