Tuesday, August 24 — Kyiv
Wind Rose Airlines flight 7W 748, Podgorica to Kyiv. Took a taxi from the airport and drive downtown through Independence Day traffic. Checked into room 616 of the Khreschatyk City Center Hotel. Dinner at Georgia Georgian restaurant. (So good.) Walked around town and enjoyed the Independence Day Celebrations including the televised concert, partially in the rain. What energy!
Wednesday, August 25 — Kyiv
Breakfast at Georgia, again!
Lonley Planet walking Tour including: Khreshchatyk Stret, Maydan Nezalezhnosti, Independence Column, House of Chimeras, Weeping Widow House, neo-Gothic mansion, Chocolate House, Verkhovna Rada (Parliament Building), Devil’s Bridge, Park, Friendship of Nations Monument, Old town, St Sophia’s Cathedral
Dinner at the wonderful Korchma Taras Bulba. We ate: Green borscht, Branded borscht, Herring, Kasha, Pike caviar, Marinated mushroom, Salad zakarpacie
Walked to Podil Поділ and take the Kyiv Metro back from Podil station to Maidan Nezalezhnosti. We learn how deep the subway is when we take the longest escalator of our lives.
Thursday, August 26 — Kyiv
Breakfast/lunch at Urban space 500, Farmer’s market, Riding a train in Kyiv Metro to Arsenalna station, which I later learn is the deepest subway station. We walked Park of Eternal Glory to Kyiv-Pecherska Lavra, where a mass service of some sort is going on. It is a very regilious experience with a score of singers doing hymns in perfect arpeggio on both sides of the room. We also climbed the bell tower. Very cool, even for a guy that is note remotely religious.
Dinner at Kanapa (КАНАПА), the charming spot on the road to Podil. The ambiance set the tone for a delightful evening and we strated our meal with Morshynska sparkling water (Б/а Вода Моршинська газована, 39.00 UAH) and local wines. We tasted the crisp Beykush Albariño (Вино біл Бейкуш Албарінньо, 120.00 UAH) and the robust Prince Trubetskoy red (Вино чер Труб Князя Трубецького, 104.00 UAH), as well as a unique aged Pinot Noir (Вино чер Труб Піно Нуар, 178.00 UAH). The cocktail offerings were eclectic and intriguing; the Kalganivka (Galanga, Кокт Калганівка, 49.00 UAH) and horseradish-infused vodka, aka Hrinovuha (Кокт Хріновуха, 49.00 UAH), were especially memorable.
The food was a remarkable journey through Ukrainian flavors. We started with the Caviar set (Кав'яр сет, 298.00 UAH), a trio of herring, pike, and trout caviars that came with a distinct onion sponge and green butter. The creamy buratta cheese (Вершковий сир бурата, 169.00 UAH) with green granita, accompanied by fresh and sun-dried tomatoes, was a wonderful mix of textures and tastes. The Pea pate (паштет з гороху, 89.00 UAH) with nut paste, served with farm-fresh cabbage and green pea pods, offered a creative and delicious spin on traditional pate.
Then came the classic Red Borscht (Борщ червоний, 149.00 UAH), served with a unique twist - smoked pear and plum. The vibrantly colored soup was warm and comforting. We also tried the Local vegetables salad (Локальні овочі, 98.00 UAH) with sour cream sauce, a tribute to the bountiful Ukrainian fields. The iconic Chicken Kyiv (Котлета по-київськи, 198.00 UAH), served with mashed potatoes and a rich cheese sauce, was a joy to cut into with its juicy, buttery filling.
Our main course included a beautifully cooked Pike-perch (Судак, 269.00 UAH) accompanied by rapa and vegetable sauté. The seafood dish was cooked to perfection, with each ingredient complementing the other. The unusual but highly pleasing dish of Aspic from rabbit meat (Холодець з м'яса кролика, 139.00 UAH) provided a gelatinous, meaty end to our savory journey.
The dinner wound up on a sweet note with a Praline made from pumpkin seeds (Праліне з гарбузового насіння, 149.00 UAH), offering a sweet, nutty finish to our delightful meal. The total bill came up to 2097 UAH (Ukrainian Hryvnia).
After dinner we walk through the park; we find a band playing and cross paths with an interesting tour group, let by Farolero.world
Firday, August 27 — Chernobyl / Kyiv
Chornobyl tour, with lunch in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
Dinner at Pervak. Dinner was served with beauitful bread rolls w/dill dip, cream and lard. We also ordered Borscht with veal Solyanka; Forschmack; Liver pate; zucchini panakes; a plate of blintz and cream cheese rolls, salmon and cheese rolls, salmon caviar; a bowl of Woodland mushrooms chanterelles baked with wegetales and white cheese; cabbage rolls, a marvelous Chicken Kyiv. After dinner we walked around the neighborhood and checked out the bars, clubs, hooka bars and other street cafes. We stumbled up a cafe named Вероніка (Veronika), and share a fig and passionfruit mousse cake that is out of this world!
Saturday, August 28 — Odesa
Very good brunch at Mama Gochi. Here is a link to their mobile menu we ordered from. We ate eggplant rolls; a gorgeous Porridge "It is not useful" which was made of quinoa with spinach cream, Suluguni, edamame beans and a hat of Philadelphia cheese; Khinkali, soup and other things.
Walk around town; St Andrew’s Cathedral; walk through park; art on sale, girl playing piano under the finicular.
We grab an Uber and head over to the Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi railay station. We board Ukrainian Railways train 637 and @ 4:30pm our train departs for Odesa. We are in Wagon 8, Seat 43, 44, which is the 'first class', but it's really just less seats. Luckily there are very few people on baord and it seems we have much of the six hour journey to ourselves.
Our ticket looked a bit like this:
КИЇВ-ПАСАЖИРСЬКИЙ -> ОДЕСА-ГОЛОВНА
763 ОА ФІРМ ІС+
08 С/1 КЛ
We arrive after midnights, grab a taxi and head to our hotel.
Sunday, August 29 — Odesa
Walk around; Lunch at Gogol Mogol; Dinner at Kumanets. We really wanted to sit outside, but it was uper packed and there was a singer singing, so we sat in the back until something opened up, which it eventually did. We ordered Carpathian mushrooms, Aubergine paste, Home salted herring, Borcht, Green borscht, Fried flounder, Stuffed cabbage and Horseraddish.
Monday, August 30 — Odesa
Chilling; Dinner at Maman; Walk around; boho bar
Tuesday, August 31 — Odesa
Breakfast; Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral; Museum of the History of Jews in Odesa; Black Sea; Dinner at Maman; Drink at Boho bar
Sunday, September 1 — Tiraspol
Breakfast at hotel, driver meets us at noon and we head off towards Transnistria, officially the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, which is an unrecognized breakaway state located in the narrow strip of land between the river Dniester and the Moldovan–Ukrainian border that is internationally recognized as part of Moldova.