First impressions of Ukraine

There are certain stereotypes or preconceptions I have about various parts of the world. I know that many of them are probably wrong so I’m doing what I can to actually experience things in person, but that doesn’t stop me from going in to any particular trip with certain expectations. On this trip, my first to Ukraine, I was expecting mostly a Soviet-style experience. And while there are obvious bits of that throughout Kiev, it is hardly the dominant influence, at least from what I’ve seen in the first eight hours here.

Sure, there is evidence of the former Soviet empire here. It would be a shame if it all disappeared. And say what you will about their style of governing, it was pretty useful for city planning, with wide avenues, promenades and parks replete with fountains and grand statues. And Kiev definitely has those bits.


But they also have a ton of smaller, older buildings. narrow alleyways and cute shops lining the squares.


And the architecture of the Ukrainian Orthodox churches is quite impressive.


Oh, and the grand statues are still grand, but many of them are now commemorating things like Ukrainian independence rather than events of the Soviet era.


Toss in a couple good local beers and some snacks at the local cafes and I’m quite happily proving to myself that the stereotypes aren’t always so accurate.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Yeah, I hate stereotypes; I had a blast in The Ukraine (:-)) [Kiev] when I visited although it took us forever to navigate to our hotel :-).

  2. Try going to south or Eastern Ukraine. It’s nothing like Kiev. Spent four years going in and out of Ukraine. Still very depressed place. Kiev is just a veneer

  3. definitely go to st sophia, its right across from the hyatt (have been to ukraine 4 times for work), and go in, inside is very neat. the church opposite st. stophia is not as impressive and cant remember if i went in or not, but make sure you go to the park dedicated to the victims of Chernobyl (also an interesting place to actually visit if you are up for that sort of thing), the park is a few blocks past the opera, have an ice cream. and the motherland statue.. Im glad you are there in July, i had to go twice during Jan and Feb, and i froze my you know what off.

  4. Coincidentally i am also in Kiev this week. The food is good here and the city is very pretty. But it all masks sOme economic troubles and dont forget to visit Babiyar to remember the nazi massacres.

  5. @Been There

    You mean, Russian speakers? Hilarious comment…


    If you want to get an impression of “Soviet”, try going to (and into) some of the 60-70’s apartment buildings, walk up and down the stairs or take an elevator. This is where the true “Soviet” spirit lives on in the countries of former USSR.

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