Київ Day 2 – 20 Nov 2009 (Киев/Kiev/Kyiv)

Київ Day 2 – 20 Nov 2009 (Киев/Kiev/Kyiv)

Unfortunately, we got a late start (around noon) because we were all out cold for the whole night and morning. But at least we felt well rested for the long day. The weather was a bit eerie with fog steadily dropping as the day progressed.

Sofia's Cathedrals were first on our list.

Sofia’s Cathedrals were first on our list.

Once inside, we decided to visit the museum before entering the main cathedral. There was also a bakery and a living quarters building.

An amber museum. Apparently they made amber here at this religious site once upon a time.

An amber museum. Apparently they made amber here at this religious site once upon a time.

Then we entered the cathedral.

Looking down from the second floor balcony.

Looking down from the second floor balcony.

Walking around the right side of the balcony to catch a different angle.

Walking around the right side of the balcony to catch a different angle.

It was now time to climb the bell tower.

It was now time to climb the bell tower.

From the first level of the tower I looked back into the grounds and got Sofia's Cathedral.

From the first level of the tower I looked back into the grounds and got Sofia’s Cathedral.

Turning to the right, this yellow building that bordered a side of the square looked quite stately.

Turning to the right, this yellow building that bordered a side of the square looked quite stately.

Now looking down from the 2nd level back into the grounds. For some reason, looking back at this photo on my computer gives me vertigo.

Now looking down from the 2nd level back into the grounds. For some reason, looking back at this photo on my computer gives me vertigo.

A little more to the left we see the amber museum.

A little more to the left we see the amber museum.

Now the 3rd level. Vandals destroyed some of the protective caging, or maybe it was so one could take better photos.

Now the 3rd level. Vandals destroyed some of the protective caging, or maybe it was so one could take better photos.

Down the street we see Mykhail's Cathedral. This section of the street was the main drag in the 18th century.

Down the street we see Mykhail’s Cathedral. This section of the street was the main drag in the 18th century.

The group of 6 down in the bottom right is our group minus me. They didn't want to go up the tower. At least we got to take photos of each other.

The group of 5 down in the bottom right is our group minus me. They didn’t want to go up the tower. At least we got to take photos of each other.

There was one more set of stairs leading up to the dome level but it was blocked off and I didn't feel like risking arrest.

There was one more set of stairs leading up to the dome level but it was blocked off and I didn’t feel like risking arrest.

I didn't notice I was holding the camera upside down for this shot and it screws up my sense of vertical when I view it. Makes me imagine I've just swung over the railing and am going to shoot myself down through the middle—except my feet seem to be still on the ground.

I didn’t notice I was holding the camera upside down for this shot and it screws up my sense of vertical when I view it. Makes me imagine I’ve just swung over the railing and am going to shoot myself down through the middle—except my feet seem to still be on the ground.

All those stairs, 176-180 in all. I lost count because I descended faster than I could count. The lowest level in this photo is actually the first level above the ground.

All those stairs, 176-180 in all. I lost count because I descended faster than I could count. The lowest level in this photo is actually the first level above the ground.

Bells! It couldn't be a proper bell tower without these. Three men were setting up a Carillon to the right of these bells, like the one in the Berkeley Campanili.

Bells! It couldn’t be a proper bell tower without these. Three men were setting up a Carillon to the right of these bells, like the one in the Berkeley Campanili.

After rejoining the rest of the group they wanted to grab something to eat. Clearly, they did not visit the grocery store the previous night to buy breakfast for each morning. Muesli with yogurt and a double-decker egg & cheese sandwich (3 slices bread 2 eggs) is my daily breakfast of choice while here. Plus the banana for consumption approximately 2.5-3 hours after breakfast, and then the poppyseed bun or blackberry roll (as was the case today) for consumption approximately 2 hours after the banana. We cannot forget the small sips of water…

Anyway, going inside Мистер Снек (phonetically Mister Snack) was rewarding in itself as I saw this:

Avatar! The first advertisement I've seen over here. There have been none yet in Russia and it worries me.

Avatar! The first advertisement I’ve seen over here. There have been none yet in Russia and it worries me.

I grabbed a small sandwich and postponed my banana consumption for later, namely because the sandwich was called “Smiley” sandwich and the Smiley emoticon is some favorite symbol of Kyiv. It was mentioned a lot and we saw it on the walls of different places.

Afterward we split up and the group I was in went to the Golden Gate, which was very similar to the one in Vladimir, but it lacked a corny diorama. But the interesting history made up for it.

The Golden Gate and plaza in front. Oh, that cat is made out of plastic forks. I have no idea why.

The Golden Gate and plaza in front. Oh, that cat is made out of plastic forks. I have no idea why.

We learned that it was built to be the main ceremonial entrance to Kyiv in 1037, during Grand Prince Yaroslav’s rule. It also served as a fortification tower. In the 18th century, to preserve the gate from further dilapidation, it was completely covered with earth. In the 19th century it was uncovered and strengthened to preserve it as a monument.

The actual gate part.

The actual gate part.

Archer holes. Luckily no invaders were shooting at us from below as we were unarmed and Chris was preoccupied with his camera.

Archer holes. Luckily no invaders were shooting at us from below as we were unarmed and Chris was preoccupied with his camera.

Then we walked down what was supposedly a street that had been preserved in 19th century architecture and left alone by Soviet rule.

These chimeras had the tough job of holding up all the floors above them.

I can’t tell if these chimeras are holding the window up or hanging from it.

This was probably the most interesting thing we saw. So we cut the walk short and headed back to the metro.

The national opera house. We were lucky enough to walk past it as we headed to the metro to get to the Lavra.

The national opera house. We were lucky enough to walk past it as we headed to the metro to get to the Lavra.

Upon exiting the metro car at Dnipro station, we were greeted by this ominous view over the Dnieper River.

Upon exiting the metro car at Dnipro station, we were greeted by this foggy view over the Dnieper River.

I guess we can complain about some Americans not being patriotic. Afterall some of us don't paint our cars, or our subways, red white & blue.

I guess we can complain about some Americans not being patriotic. After all, some of us don’t paint our cars, or our subways, red white & blue.

We then proceeded to walk down the right side of this street to arrive at the Kyevo-Pechers'ka Lavra so our morbid fascination with seeing dead priests could be satiated.

We then proceeded to walk down the right side of this street to arrive at the Kyevo-Pechers’ka Lavra so our morbid fascination with seeing dead priests could be satiated.

The Ukrainians are really friendly. While we were double checking our map on the street level of the station a random man walked up to us and asked if we needed any help. He then gave us excellent directions to the Lavra.

Our turn off for the Lavra brought us back a couple centuries in the past.

Our turn off for the Lavra brought us back a couple centuries in the past.

We made it. Inside the lower Lavra area we wondered how large this monastery center was.

We made it. Inside the lower Lavra area we wondered how large this monastery center was.

In 1051 Reverend Anthony settled in this area and dug himself a cave. Foods and liquids were brought to him and he resided inside the cave for 40 years. As more people visited him he wanted more seclusion and dug himself another set of caves on the adjacent hill. Eventually, these caves grew into tunnels and served as a burial spot for priests and other religious persons for over 700 years, with Anthony being buried there first. We were allowed to go inside and see their tombs.

The entrance to the tombs.

The entrance to the tombs.

We descended with candles in hand, the only light inside the tunnels. The bodies were horizontal and in glass cases with clothes on and their heads covered with a cloth. Some hands were exposed and they were totally black with what could have been skin still on the skeleton. The tourist part was rather short so I suggested we venture back and walk through the “for prayers” only section. It was indeed much longer and after a while I realized it was all basically the same deal. Except in this section, people would cross themselves and bend over to kiss the cases, yuck. Apparently, some priest guided Natalie back to the main entrance saying she wasn’t allowed in the prayer section, but then Chris met up with her and together they walked back through to the exit. No one bugged me though. We sort of split up in the small maze of tunnels. I let my imagination roam free and for a few moments I had some fun walking down an empty black corridor with my candle flickering, threatening to die. But there were too many people for any real fun to be had; I wasn’t able to lose my sense of direction and engender a claustrophobic or lost feeling—not that I would want to be shoved into a pitch black box and sent on a train across Sibera or anything like that.

We then decided to walk to the upper parts of the Lavra and see how large this place was.

I got me a lamp shot. Not enough fog though. Anyway, this is the midsection of the Lavra.

I got me a lamp shot. Not enough fog though. Anyway, this is what I call the midsection of the Lavra.

These amazing buttresses separated the outer and inner walls of the upper Lavra.

These amazing buttresses separated the outer and inner walls of the upper Lavra.

We turned a corner and BAM! This magnificent cathedral was all we could see, its domes challenging the fog's descent.

We turned a corner and BAM! This magnificent cathedral was all we could see, its domes challenging the fog’s descent.

It even had a bell tower that seemed to diminish the one at Sofia's earlier. But that could have been an effect of the fog.

It even had a bell tower that seemed to diminish the one at Sofia’s earlier. But that could have been an effect of the fog. I was convinced this place wouldn’t look half as amazing without this fog; but I really like fog.

The other side of the cathedral. Actually, it consisted of many different, entirely separate rooms. We couldn't figure out how to get inside the main worship room. But I ducked into the leftmost room to follow other people who were doing the same.

The other side of the cathedral. Actually, it consisted of many different, entirely separate rooms. We couldn’t figure out how to get inside the main worship room (it was probably the center door but no one else was entering so we didn’t press our luck. I ducked into the leftmost room to follow other people, who were dressed nicely, doing the same.

A wedding! The bride dressed in white is standing in the center. I pretended like I was part of the party and snapped this photo after seeing the hired photographers doing the same. I don't think I blended in that well though; I think they probably just didn't care.

A wedding! The bride dressed in white is standing in the center. I pretended like I was part of the party and snapped this photo after seeing the hired photographers doing the same. I don’t think I blended in that well though; I think they probably just didn’t care.

Another shot of the bell tower.

Another shot of the bell tower. I loved the fog. It made this whole place look really awesome. Plus there was a slight mist which only increased the awesomeness.

This bell is as tall as I am, and more than twice as wide.

This bell is as tall as I am, and more than twice as wide.

On the side of the huge cathedral stood another churchlike building.

On the side of the huge cathedral stood another churchlike building. I love the windows. If I build a palace, it’s going to have windows like these.

Anyway, the rest of the doors on the main cathedral led to one room exhibitions. We decided to enter one. It seemed to be a memorial of the priests and displayed their pictures and garments.

Nice hat. I guess it pays well to be a priest in the Ukraine.

Nice hat. I guess it pays well to be a priest in the Ukraine.

Or maybe not. It looks like they take the hats after death for museum purposes.

Or maybe not. It looks like they take the hats after death for museum purposes.

Tired, and all museumed out for the day, we headed back towards the main part of town.

After walking all the way back to Kreshatik we decided to walk along its sidewalk for a bit before heading to an inexpensive cafe. While this is the sidewalk it doubles as a parking lot for cars. Yes, I was almost hit by this suv, but it was going pretty slow.

After walking all the way back to Kreshatik we decided to walk along its sidewalk for a bit before heading to an inexpensive cafe. While this is the sidewalk it doubles as a parking lot for cars. Yes, I was almost hit by this suv, but it was going pretty slow.

The dinner was good and cheap. It was about half the price as the equivalent cafeteria style restaurant in Moscow. The name of the restaurant here in Kyiv is pronounced “Puhzzahta Hahta.” In Moscow, the equivalent is called Mu-Mu.

Feeling very full we walked back to the hostel to get a good night’s sleep for our exciting journey arranged for the morning.

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