Kiev, 2015

This is a little surprising, given that I forgot how the last time was, around here. I see people. I see living people. But I also see the snow and the fact that nobody seems to care to clean it; I see police officer eyeing my smiling mug suspiciously; I see a bulimic girl eyeing me lustfully; I see a country I forgot in the year-and-a-half since I’ve last been here. Kiev is a beautiful city. Being here feels like walking through the archeology museum, looking up at the giant’s bones; except the bones are connected with rotting but living flesh trying to contract the muscles and move this monstrosity of a creature.

Fertile soil and centuries-long culture create for an interesting place to visit. Kiev, especially, contains more culture in a city block than your average museum. Then why do I feel like I’m in a museum, looking in on them?

I am far from complaining. I am trying to gather up my thoughts about this place and write them down. Let’s see what I’ve seen so far, the highlight in a bullet list of my observations as I walk the main streets of the city:

  • Espresso vendors are everywhere.
  • Smokers… smokers everywhere you look. Men and women.
  • Men rest, women work.
  • Where are the old people?
  • Buildings are beautiful, older, and crumbling.
  • Nobody smiles.
  • Nobody smiles for any reason!
  • There is history on every block.
  • Nobody cleans the streets.
  • Nobody repairs the streets, either.
  • They hate Russians, at the moment.
  • Many visibly intoxicated people on the street even on a Tuesday afternoon.
  • High heels + Snow = No problem.
  • Spoken language is polluted with Russian, mixed with Ukrainian, local slang(s).
  • 35-45 males are either drunk or gangsters.
  • 18-35 males are waiters or salesmen.
  • 35-45 women don’t exist.
  • 18-35 females are notary, lawyers, or real estate agents.
  • Trash is everywhere while streets are reasonably clean… Don’t judge, this is just my observation…
  • All transactions are in the local currency—dollars are not easily accepted—unlike during my 2013 visit.
  • You can buy cigarettes anywhere and they are cheap.
  • You can get [and drink] beer anywhere and it is cheap.

I hope you can see this place as I have seen it.  Once again, I am trying a few new thing for me—comments about the photos BELOW the photo.  Mom asked me to do that and I figured I’d give it a try.

Just to start with, here’s the video of the whole trip:

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Just thought I’d share my first photo of dad being all spunky while me being hungover… badly hungover…

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Yawn.  The fuck!?  Ah, ok.

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Ooooof, “premium snacks”, yay!

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Bloody-fucking-marry and some kinda soup in the early AM without sleeping after drinking most of the night.  I think this is the most welcome sight.

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I love huge flights.  Especially half-empty ones.  Let’s hope it stays like this :-)

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Paris, here we come.  I’m no more sober.  Just in a worse mood after drunk + flight.  AWESOME!

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This fucking buss…  Paris airport is just such a pain in the ass!  I wish I was… I just want a beer, please.

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Airport is lovely though.  Really something else.

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So fucking French it’s not even funny :-).  Love it here!

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Hi.  Please remind me.  Air France food is just most awesomely awesome!

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Just the seats kinda suck.  But that’s overpowered by the food :-).

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Just arrived to Ukraine and we’ve off to eat and drink.  Thanks.  I didn’t even brush my teeth.  Yeah, this is perfect for my 2-day-long hangover—drink more!

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I can’t even focus.  LOL

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Neither can dad.  He is advertising realestate here.

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Course #7 of like 40.

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And so much grapa…. we drank like a bottle each.  Dad paid for it.  I was OK, I think.

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Oh, Hello.  This is a “shot for the road”… we did 4-5 of these… :-)

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Started snowing.

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This building was under construction the last time I was here 1.5 years ago.  Still looks the same.

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Nice view of the city though.

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The building across the street constantly had smokers on at least one balcony.  By the way, notice the building on the left?  Covered in mold?!

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Nice to see the snowed-in city, too.

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The trash.

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The babies.

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The snow that’s never cleaned.

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The adorable 1980s car.

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The shit that this place had become.

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The streets.

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The sculptures.

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And the sleet.

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The whipping willows, too.

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The children.

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The anatomically-correct snowmen.

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The streets.

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More sleet.

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You is Us.  Love the wolf-dog, too.

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Beer is 12 Hryvnia (local currency)…  And take a look at the exchange rate… Like 80 cents USD for a pint.  I’m in heaven!

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Well…  THIS kind of a heaven.

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With it’s own charm to it.

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All the visible ads are “I can buy your place”.

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All the buildings have these alleys.  Lovely.

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As I’m walking I snap this pic, zoom in on the camera screen, read the sign [“careful! dangerous zone. wall’s fucked.”].  Oh, shit.  Then I look up.

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Nice to see this on top of my head :-).

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More sleet.  Seriously, people, I’d like to sue somebody after I fall.  Like… umm… OK, I’ll try not to fall.

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No comment.

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My favorite.

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Look up.  Snow is gorgeous.

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I heart you.  OK, but what the fuck?

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You see what I mean?  Lovely city!

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Even with handicapped access.

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And black chicks in red.  Mmmmmm

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Renovated buildings are dope.

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Older buildings?  Less so.

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Gorgeous!

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Sleety though.  Oof.

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Kinda dirty…

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Expresso vendor.

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Lovely alley.

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Awesome ancient-but-bricked-up building.

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Yay!  Coffee :-).  Like I don’t get enough of it on the street?!

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Snow just looks amazing here.  Looks like it belongs here.

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Some building with a malfunctioning clock.

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The back of the above building.  Virgin snow.

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Watch out for a car!  As I receive a dose of falling roof-snow on my head…

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All the gangsta cars are black here.  This is their style.  I’m weirded out by it but I can see how this could be cool, perhaps, maybe, nah.

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Love it!  Except everyone does whatever they damn please with their balconies.

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The old gates of the city.  The ancient gates.

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I guess this is the meeting place for some since I see so many people who look like they are there waiting for someone.  Please note the sleety street.

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And the kids playing right there.

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And the super-dirty street again.

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Right next to amazingness…

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Agreed.  Hate is out of date :-).

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Well, this is new—didn’t see it last time I was here.

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You see what I mean about this city?  Freaking gorgeous!

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Make-shift ashtrays, too, are awesome!

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And more sleet.

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And the air conditioners on the side of the building.

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And the broken marble.

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And the beautifully-dressed ladies hopping over sleet.

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And the obligatory overpriced store.  I walked in, of course.  WOW.  Their prices are MORE than US MSRP.  Dang…

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By the way, lots of lights here.  Where are they getting electricity, I wonder?  I thought it’s not nuclear, meaning coal or oil electricity…  And I heard there is no freaking gas or oil or coal here…  Then where are you getting the electric from if you can waste on running lights DURING THE DAY?!  Hmm….

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My phone’s panorama setting.  View from my hotel.  Not bad.

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Grandma buying stuff.

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Pride, MOFO!  Pride!

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Wait, what is this?!

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“Supporting the ATO warriors”…  ATO stands for Anti-Terrorist Organization, the “freedom fighters”.  All the shit going on at Donbas…

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And I still love all the sights.

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And my all-time favorite here.  Love it!

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Hedgehog-in-the-fog.  Watch it, it’s a piece of art.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Rugwd8ZNHY  Just fucking take a minute to watch, would’ja?  It’s worth it, for the art.

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Lovely here, right?

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FREEDOM!  I’m getting close to Maidan, where all the fighting took place.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Ukrainian_revolution

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Lovely streets.  Why would militants be here?!

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Fame to Ukraine!

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I saw this car last time :-)  Some kind of a thing here?

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Fierce!

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Well, here we are.  Look at the curious beauty…  She does’t realize this is a wide-angle lens :-)

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Who is Putin?  Putin is a dick!  I like this version better though.  Hu iz Pu? Pu is Hu!

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…  sigh

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Cleaning up…

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Here’s a zoom-in for you.  Smiles all-around.

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Berkut (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berkut_(special_police_force))—bastards!  They fought [kicked] us here, our kids, our wives.  They fought [kicked] us for our choice.  Euro-integration!!!

Sigh.  Do they realize Europe is not all-that-accepting?  Not easy to get into it.  You’d be on probation and you would have to *really* clean up your act…  Like REALLY!

Silly people.  Life is not so simple.  If / when you become part of Europe you have to STAY part of Europe.  This means changing your mentality, changing the way you think and the way you work.  This means changing your ways.  This means changing just about everything about your country that I see on the street.  Becoming “Europe” does not happen overnight.  First, you have to kill your own selves (not literally) and educate your children in a drastically different way.

I am very sorry to say this, guys, but you are not yet ready to be part of the solution as you are still part of the problem.

I do wish you all the luck in the world and I do think that, one day, this will be a great country!  Seriously, my wishes and prayers are with you.  Good luck.

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“Revolution!”

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A revolution with tractors on the street.  I read a book like this once.  Let me go find it.

http://www.amazon.com/Short-History-Tractors-Ukrainian  read it.  It’s a great book.  I highly recommend it.  Nothing to do with this but everything to do with this.

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Not with this but with the mentality of this place.

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The mentality here.  Watch out!  Slippery.  Just give me my lawyer on speed dial here, please.

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Unified Ukraine!  Please!

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LOL.  Hi, honey.  Remember me?

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Ah, the president’s place.

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And this is exactly why I am moving here!  Say MORE! to beer! :-)

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And boobs, apparently.  I’m in, please.

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Sony.

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A museum dedicated to a bookwright.  Respect!

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Nice parking, bro.  No, really.

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Suited-up smokers.

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And grandmas selling flowers.

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Metro walkways.

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Buildings and cars (note the parking locations).

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The alleys.

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The workers.

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The cars… on a sidewalk…  DUDE!  You’re a fucking low-rider, man!!  Sigh.

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I dig the trash here, though.  Lovely.

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My father’s alma mater.

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Holy shit!  Markus Schulz!!!  Motherfucker!!!!!

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Lovely.

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Insanely beautiful women walking groceries to some undisclosed location.  Sigh.  Oh, to be rich, and in Kiev.

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Love the owl.  Cute :-)

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Love the Soviet-era remains.  See them?

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How about this zoom-in?  See it now?

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Lovely here.

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Oh, yeah, …  Coffee?

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With you prayer?

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No barriers to enter construction site.  Dear legal department, please note the location of shit I can break my head on.  Thanks.

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Local traffic jam where people get out of their cars and yell shit at each other instead of just moving along :-).

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Kids and their snow.  Lovely.

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True love can hardly be explained.  And these people are anti-gay…  The fuck?!

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Oh, did I mention the lovely walks?!  Sleet, water, sludge, dirt, eek!

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Lovely view, though.

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This place had looked the same 1.5 years ago I was here.  No change…

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Zoom-in for you.  “Stop reproducing and start educating!”  Shit, mate, I could not agree more!

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Another one?!

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No, just a rainbow.

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And “glue” :-)

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And fucked up roads.

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And beautiful arch walks.

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And more coffee stops :-)

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And the crew :-).  Sorry, just had to put this here for my memories.

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The last view.

There are many cities I have been to over the last 36 years. I tend to fall in love with the place I am at and gather stories about it—helps me keep my reality real and my memory functioning. Thus, I’ve been in love many many many times, with different cities and different restaurants, different cultures, different bricks. I truly love Kiev and I consider it one of the best cities on the planet for its potential to become something far more than what now meets me eye. The people are amazing. Yes, they are bitter, angry, and mostly broke; but hey still keep the culture and the pride and the… the genuine Ukrainian goodness that is engraved into the culture here. Once this place does join Europe and once it does clean up… This will be on the list of the most amazing cities in Europe that you absolutely have to visit. For now, this shall remain a closed country for those who do not speak the language—I do think this place is a little too dangerous to visit.

In summary, I am in love with the city, it’s people, and hopefully something a little more as well. I think I took the best part of this place that I could with me in my heart *tear. LOL

I’ll visit again soon.

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