Well, I had another interesting weekend of sightseeing in Kyiv! My first stop was the Chernobyl Museum, located in the quaint mercantile quarter of Podil:
The museum did a great job of presenting its collection of historical artifacts (ID cards, newspaper articles, even a gilded church alter that was salvaged from an evacuated village) in a symbolic and very dramatic way. For example, in the exhibit below, you can see an apple tree (the museum’s symbol for the Chernobyl disaster) growing through a cradle. Surrounding the cradle on the floor are photographs of Chernobyl evacuees. Very moving.
Above is a picture of my English-language tour guide pointing out the boundaries of the Exclusion Zone. I was surprised to learn that such a small museum offered an English-language tour, until I realized that the majority of it patrons seemed to be American tourists. My theory is that this is because the museum is prominently featured in Lonely Planet’s guidebook on Ukraine, which is pretty much the only English-language travel guide available about the country. Turns out, most Ukrainians haven’t even heard about the Chernobyl museum (including the doctors at RCRM, who treat Chernobyl victims on a daily basis…).
Above, another dramatic exhibit.
After visiting the museum, my Ukrainian friend insisted I try some real Ukrainian fast food:
The name of the restaurant, “Smacha Kartoplia,” means “Tasty Potato” in English. To order, you pick two salads from a display, which are then plopped into the middle of a twice-baked cheesy potato. We got crab salad and mushroom salad in ours. (Note: In Ukraine, the word “salad” by no means denotes a healthy bed of mixed greens – as you can see, it’s always some combination of meat, pickles, and mayonnaise.)
After gorging on tasty potatoes, we worked it all off by climbing Andriyivsky uzviz, or Andrew’s descent, to St. Andrew’s Church:
The bronze people I am clutching above are characters from an old film called Za Dvoma Zaytsamty. The title means “chasing two hares” and comes from an ancient Ukrainian proverb. In the movie, a poor Ukrainian barber in late-19th-century Kyiv puts on airs to woo two wealthy women but is exposed for his duplicity.
Above, statue of Cossack hero Bohdan Khmelnytsky.
Since it was Saturday, the brides were out in droves again. Here is a young couple posing for a photo in front of some statues of great Slavs. I think they represented Princess Olha, St. Cyril and St. Methodius (the founders of the Slavic alphabet), and Apostle Andriy.
We took the “funicular,” or cable car, down the steep hillside back to Podil.
I love this city! Next post – as promised – my take on the situation of the liquidators.