Thursday, 21 June 2018


3rd - 6th June 2018

A Samovar Mk 2 Brodibygbangskaya Soviet missile parked outside the War Museum .
Following on, we visited the Museum of the Great Patriotic War; on top of which is situated the 'Iron Lady' monument (see previous). Initially this museum was dedicated to the Great Patriotic Fight by Kiev's gallant Soviet defenders against the German invasion in 1941. It has encompassed more recent events since.
.....such as this car, containing a group of five ex-Ukranian soldiers, which failed to stop at a check-point politely manned by the 'little green men' during the civil war in the east after 2014. All five occupants were killed.

....and an ambulance given similar attention.

Left: Town and street signs from Eastern Ukraine recovered from the attentions of their allegedly 'Russian supporters' who had 'liberated' them.

Most of the rest of the museum is dedicated to the Nazi German invasion during WW2 with lots of weaponry, photos of famous Soviet generals and even a shot down Soviet fighter plane. A pair of withered white gloves was displayed which were made from human skin previously belonging to a Ukrainian victim of a Nazi concentration camp.
The guillotine (right) was on display but I failed to understand who used it or when. Trouble was most of the descriptions are in Cyrillic writing and our lady guide was moving too quickly. She had to get away early and I failed to keep up with

Left: A vast array of photos in memory of those killed or missing in action against the Germans  in 1941 lines a 50yd long wall.

......and (right) a photo of some of their loved ones left behind. Looking at some of them I would not be surprised if many of the 'missing in action' found a better offer and had simply done a  runner.

Left: Our lady guide pointing out the 'Angel of Peace' statue at the exit, made from old rifles and ammunition.

For the benefit of any Cold War military equipment nerds, I show below various pics of old Soviet weaponry. This is a small portion of a large display in a park behind the museum. I had to sneak in over a small fence, not very well guarded, because the museum had closed. The one that interested me was the 'push me pull you' rail mounted gun with barrels at both ends. Never seen one of those before. Useful in fluid advance and retreat situations perhaps. See what you can recognise.

Left: Maydan Nezalezhnosti Square (known thankfully as 'Maydan') in the city centre. This was the place where 'government' snipers shot and killed over a hundred protesters during the demonstrations in the winter of 2014. You can read up on the events I'm sure, but the place at the time became a defended camp for the protesters with lots of barricades and defended camp-sites.
As you can see, it is (and was) a most pleasant square with lots of fountains surrounded by impressive buildings and shops.

At the eastern end, behind previous pic, is the Independence Column with a winged figure on top; known locally as 'Stella'. This is where the protests started

.....and nearby is an impressive bronze statue which represents something I have now completely forgotten. No idea. But impressive nevertheless.

Right: There were lots of 'friendly' young men around the square encouraging you to perch a bird on your wrist (owls, pigeons, falcons, vultures, ostriches, albatrosses, dodos...sorry, getting a bit carried away here) and then demand money for the privilege. They were very persistent and, frankly, a pain in the arse. Avoid them. several people dressed up in costumes with the same purpose in mind i.e. to get you to pose with them....and pay for it. Good luck to them. There were Zebras, Monkeys, Lions and other creatures including this wazzock (left). Apart from anything else it was a very warm day and I suspect the people inside these things must have got very hot indeed. They deserve all the money they can get.

I wanted to post some postcards. Yes, I am one of the few remaining old-fashioned people in the world who actually do this. I love to receive postcards (although rarely get any), so maybe I naively assume that other folks like to get them also. Anyway, the post office on the Maydan (right) is a glorious building inside. Many countries do have magnificent main post offices (not UK, I hasten to add) and seem to take pride in them. Mexico City, Saigon, Istanbul to name just three notable ones. This one was so elegant, clean, lots of helpful staff, no long queues and, believe it or not, all my postcards arrived in UK within a week....and stamps cost 80p equivalent. Good service and reasonable price. Bravo for the Kiev PO!

Adjacent to my hotel was the 'Olympic Park' stadium (left). I believe there was an important 'footer' match there the week before I arrived. Liverpool v Real Madrid if memory serves. The hotels, airlines, TV companies and bars won.
I tried, and failed, to get inside. I walked all around it and found all gates and doorways locked. Not wishing to push my luck I resisted the temptation to climb over things to get in. I looked in of course, and there was a football pitch inside a running track so hardly worth the risk of being caught trespassing.

Right: The much daubed plinth which previously had a statue of Mr Lenin on it at the bottom of Tarasa Shevchenka St. The statue was pulled down and smashed by protesters in 2013.

On my last afternoon in Kiev I decided to take the Metro underground to the nearest station to the WW2 museum (visited previously) as I hoped to get up the top of the 'Iron Lady' monument to take some good photos of the city. On exiting at the Dnipro station near the river, it was a long walk which took me through the large and picturesque Pechersky Landshaftny Park (these Ukrainian names are a pest to spell, let alone remember). Here I found an open-air song and dance concert in action. It was absolutely brilliant, the weather was sunny, so I decided to stay and watch. Great acrobatic Cossack style dancing, plus jolly folksy music and dance from other countries, excellently performed by both adults and children. There seemed to be an endless stream of different acts taking to the stage. I couldn't tear myself away and have some videos but poor photos because the performers jumped around a lot. Anyway, I left before the end of the show and scrambled cross-country up steep hills and over several fences to the museum, only to find the entrance to the statue was now closed. On balance I'm glad I stayed to watch the show which, incidentally, was still going on on my return through the park.

A long walk back to the Metro, which is an excellent and cheap system, and back to the city proper. I stopped to buy a very colourful Ukrainian  style shirt. I was quite knackered when I got back to the hotel.

That's enough about Kiev. A great city from what I saw, with interesting sights, good, reasonably priced, restaurants and bars and, of course, the many 'gentleman's clubs' which, I discovered, have a somewhat different theme to the Cavalry & Guards Club in London. My only minor complaint is that the streets seldom have any street signs on them (even in cyrillic..which I can just about manage) so even with a map, navigation was difficult. I must write to the Mayor who, I believe, is a certain Vitali Klitscho, a well known ex-heavyweight boxer.

Off next to the charming little town of Chernobyl to recharge my batteries. 

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