When my flight from Kyiv to Amman was cancelled and rescheduled for 24 hours later I took this as an opportunity to explore Ukraine, without an inkling of what that meant.
Exiting my flight from JFK to military men standing on each side of the plane immediately told me I was entering something new.
Without thinking to exchange money first I jumped on what j thought was my free hotel shuttle. Only to realize this bus went only to the train stations and wouldn’t accept Credit Cards.
I was only saved because the couple behind me took pity, paid for my ticket, helped me exchange my money, and arranged me a taxi. They’d been dancers in China for two years and said they understood how hard it was to be somewhere without speaking the language.
Thanking them profusely and exchanging WattsApp numbers I took a taxi to my hotel. Where I quickly FaceTimed my family and then slept in the amazingly air conditioned room.
Waking up at noon, though who knows what time it was to me, I threw on a dress and grabbed my $400 cash ($18 CDN apx.) to wander around the city.
Without a destination and wanting to avoid taxis I would wander a city block, return to my hotel and then do a different block, for about three hours before it became too hot to continue. Some things I noticed in the three hours of wandering;
How many great breakfast places there were, with not a Starbucks in site. I stopped for coffee and cherry pie at a nice place and they were both amazing.
I walked pass the Swedish embassy and many government buildings, those were the only ones with English translations, so who knows what else I walked past.
Noticed a large military presence with pairs of men walking all around the city, as well and large green trucks parked around. A large ‘Military Recruitment Centre’ I walked by too
A large display of political cartoons on a windowsill, many with unflattering depictions of Putin.
All resturants and cafes displayed their hours and price points in large numbers
How cheap everything was, breakfast being $79 ($4 CDN apx.), a beer $45 ($2CDN apx), my hotel even $500 ($25 CDN apx).
So many walls have amazing murals on them and while there was a lot of graffiti on the drive from the airport the city centre had none.
Walking into Zara and another store and was amazed at how expensive clothes were, with jeans being $2500 ($127CDN apx)and a jacket even more expensive
Realized how easy it was for people to rip me off once they realized I didn’t speak Ukrainian.
The taxi my Ukrainian friends arranged cost $45, while the one the hotel found me cost $79
The ice cream cone sign looked like 19 for a cone, but the lady charged me 30
Came across a large closed off street, in middle of it a two person cooking demonstration, which was being filmed, with boom and all and drawing quite a crowd.
Everyone gets their suitcases wrapped in plastic wrap before checking it in, my friends said that things would often go missing, but it happens much less now.