Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Kiev - my second home

I'm a bit behind on posting...I have a few to write up yet but haven't had the time, so here's a commercial break...

As you know, I visited beautiful Kiev for the second time last month and had a thoroughly relaxing time. The architecture is amazing, the people are friendly (although the older folk tend not to smile much - a habit from the old Soviet days I guess) and it has become one of the most dynamically international cities of the past five years with an influx of tourists and business people from around the world.

I spent a mere two days there and I hope to spend more time in the Ukraine in future because it has a lot of secrets and finding them is part of the joy of going there.

One aspect of Kiev(ian) life I noticed that's changed is the prominence of public alcohol consumption. A lot of the youth are drinking booze in parks, in the town square and on the streets generally. These are young men and women who'd have been pressed into military service not so long ago but now, with a Western influence and a jobless economy for most of them, the culture of alcohol is rapidly taking over and it will surely end in tears.

Having said that, there's no litter, very little graffiti, no obvious trouble or violence as a result of drinking and the population still behave as a disciplined society. The church is still a strong influence for many (I got shushed once for making a noise during a service!) and there is a palpable family-orientated culture.

I think when I go back many more things will have begun to change. There are two McDonald's restaurants within shouting distance of each other in Central Kiev. I'm sure the other mega-chains are on their way and the downward spiral will begin. I still love the place though. Here are some pics...

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