Kyiv: of golden domes and warm borscht

Deep love and beauty hidden in tumult

Ukraine is a country with a rich history all its own that's often clouded by big recent events. After the Annexation of Crimea, and the tumult happening around the area, it doesn't exactly make it one's first choice for sightseeing. These misconceptions cloud a beautiful culture, and it would be a shame to not go out and experience it. The capital city, Kyiv—sometimes written as Kiev, a matter which continues to be debated—is a glittering example of this.

From the golden-domed, Orthodox-style chapels in the centre, such as the ornate St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery, to the underground restaurants in close proximity to the center, it's a wonderful city to wander. Ukrainian food is also extremely filling: if you've ever had pierogis, try the Ukrainian varenyky, which are boiled and usually served with grilled onion and tangy sour cream. The result is excruciatingly delicious. Most Ukrainians are also extremely friendly, polite, and helpful; in no other country that I've traveled to before have complete strangers gone so much out of their way to help a tourist.

With the recent political outbreaks in Kyiv, you might find the situation tense, but the nightlife is extremely rich. The city, despite the political climate, continues to flourish. It's art scene has always been strong, as evidenced by the beautiful murals of Ukrainian mythos and history on the walls of buildings, and such highlights as the aforementioned domes and the Ukrainian National Opera.

With a population of 3 million that continues to grow, Kyiv is in a phase of great growth that you can feel even as you walk past ancient cathedrals. As in any city, it's important to be aware of the situation when visiting, but don't let that fear stop you from going out and exploring. For the truly adventurous, several hotels and accommodations offer tours to nearby Chernobyl, which allows brief tours of the area after it's tragic exposure to chemical radiation. But try not to stray too far from Kyiv, especially when there's so much to do in such a bustling city.

For more information on visiting Kyiv, visit the city's official website.

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