Experiencing the Local Flavor of Kiev, Part II


There is a popular, small, leafy park next to a pedestrian walkway at the foot of the Zoloti Vorota (Golden Gates) in Old Town. On spring-like days it was enjoyable to sit there and do some people watching. The tourists visiting the Golden Gates and professionals walking briskly around were an interesting mix of people.It was especially entertaining when a street flower market was set up nearby which attracted more locals.

Zoloti Vorota (Golden Gates) was the main gate in the 11th century fortifications of Kyiv, the capitol of Keivan Rus. It was completely demolished in the Middle Ages and rebuilt by the Soviet authorities in 1982. The other two city gates, Ladski and Shydivski (Polish and Jewish) have not survived.

One day near the Golden Gate I noticed an inviting restaurant sign on the street next to an open door with a photo of a Ukrainian band. I descended a steep, relatively-dark, narrow staircase and found a lovely underground restaurant. It was decorated with fine, colorful weavings and hand-carved wooden furniture. The local business crowd packed the place. I couldn’t say no when a gracious hostess in traditional dress directed me to a table. The Ukranian red borscht soup with homemade bread was superb. The music? I would have to come back some evening for that, she said.


I had heard that opera and ballet performances at theTaras Shevchenko National Opera Theatre were lavish productions, well priced, and shouldn’t be missed. The grand theatre was built in 1901.

I attended both a ballet and an opera, purchasing tickets at different prices in order to experience balcony as well as orchestra seating. US$10 bought me a good orchestra seat. The evening I attended the wonderful Swan Lake Ballet, I was entertained beforehand by young twins in the balcony where I was sitting. They were having a fun time trying to get a good photo of their Mother with her Smart Phone. The acoustics in the theatre were superb.


Searching for local markets is one of my favorite things to do when traveling. I just happened to be in Kiev the weekend the huge monthly Kurazh Bazar, a flea market on Kiev’s left bank, was taking place.

Over 400 vendors sold new and used clothing, antiques and various trinkets. People were rummaging through piles of clothing with seemingly great patience. The street food was plentiful, but too deep fried for my taste. The farmer’s market was extensive. Upon inquiry,I was told many kinds of oranges they were selling came from Greece. I bought a kilo of juicy oranges and enjoyed eating them while listening to some good street music.


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2 thoughts on “Experiencing the Local Flavor of Kiev, Part II

  1. Interesting to learn that families, including children and even twins no less, attend the opera and the classics in Ukraine, and that the tickets are affordable for working people. Also, glad you enjoyed the Greek oranges Merrilee — as you know, the EU (of which Greece is a part) imposed sanctions on Russia, a long-term buyer of Greek apricots, citrus fruits and various other fruit and vegetables, so the citrus fruits that would have gone to Russia, are now being exported at lower prices to countries such as the Ukraine. Under communism, Ukrainians would get a lot of their vitamin C from sauerkraut, or they’d have to wait for sporadic imports of oranges and lemons from the USSR’s then ally, Cuba.
    Shoppers at the market are still wrapped up warm against the cold, so I’m guessing spring hasn’t quite arrived in the Ukraine yet!

    1. The unbelievably low price of tickets to the opera and ballet in Ukraine never ceased to amaze me. It was fun to see families enjoy the productions. With regard to the cold – the only warm place I experienced during my travels in Ukraine, which was mostly during the month of March, was in Odessa, in the southern part of Ukraine.

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