I know many of you are enjoying hearing about all we are learning about this area, so I wanted to share a little bit of that today. I will post more pictures as we go, but we are getting ready to board the overnight train to Alina's hometown, so I don't have as much time as I would need to cover this topic in depth.
Yesterday we toured a thousand-year-old monastery complex here in Kiev, as well as a few other historic churches, war memorials and museums with our driver's daughter, Olena. We had an amazing day, and learned so much about this country and its rich history.
Olena is fluent in Russian, Ukrainian, German and English. She speaks English very well, and we really enjoyed learning about WWII, Stalin, Lenin, The Red Army, the Orange Revolution, and the history of this country’s religion, architecture and culture from a Ukrainian perspective. It was a priceless opportunity.
Some things we learned: While the eastern part of the country is heavily Russian-influenced, the western part (including the Carpathian mountains) has a distinct Austrian influence. The western part of Ukraine is also predominantly Catholic. The eastern part is predominantly Christian Orthodox.
There is really an interesting mixture of architecture here in Kiev. Some of the buildings are opulent with intricate detail (designed to show the greatness of the Soviet Union), some are utilitarian Stalinist structures, and there is also some very modern architecture—all mixed together. The older area of town by the new Parliament building is very beautiful and established, with lots of old buildings and big trees. The crocus are blooming here, and I am guessing the trees and bushes will begin to flower in the next month. They are just beginning to bud. The monastery we visited had a courtyard which will be full of roses this summer and lots of magnolia trees. I bet it is gorgeous here in late June.
There are a lot of parks and other areas for leisure. Everywhere you look there is something interesting!
Yesterday, the main street that runs in front of Independence Square was closed to cars (as it is every Saturday). This huge street, and people just strolling or skipping right down the middle. It was so great.Here is a statue which symbolizes victory from WWII:
And check out this gorgeous display of hand painted eggs:
More to come of Ukrainian culture, food, architecture, history, religion...