Sep 25 2009
I’ve just returned from Ukraine where we stayed in a two bedroom apartment about 800 meters from central Kiev on Lesi Ukrainky Boulevard. Situated on the 4th floor, it’s the second balcony up in the photo. Directly across the street, a new extension to a hotel was being built.
Whilst the apartment was very comfortable and secure, we had to negotiate the elevator from hell. It was just big enough to get two people and bags into. You could be forgiven for thinking the elevator shaft and stair well were in a crack house.
Ukraine is fantastic. The people are friendly, but if you intend to go there, learn Russian not Ukrainian. It was a mistake we made but we quickly picked up a few Russian phrases to get by. Russian is actually easier than Ukrainian but that may have something to do with all the ‘Cold War’ films I watched in my youth.
We did the smart thing and hired a guide for Wednesday and Friday afternoon (Thursday we went to Pripyat & Chernobyl). Tatiana was a big help and it was great to be shown around Kiev by a native of the city. However, I think I enjoyed sitting and talking about our different lifestyles more than the site seeing. Over lunch we discussed religion, politics, books, films, relationships, travel, food, history and anything else that struck a common ground between our two very different cultures.
There is an interesting mix of old and new in Ukraine. Brand new Mercedes four wheel drives, Mazda 3’s all over and the local electric trams.
Without Tatiana, we wouldn’t have attempted the Metro. At around 157 metres, the deepest underground station in Europe is in Kiev. People sit down on the escalators like it’s an amusement park ride. It takes around 3 minutes to descend over 100 metres. If there was ever a fire in the station, I think there would be a huge loss of life. The Metro is very cheap, fast and frequent, however all the signs are in Cyrillic and, without a guide, we’d have been quickly lost.
Recording set-up consists of a Schoeps CCM4Lg & CCM8Lg in M/S configuration, inside a Schoeps/Rycote blimp. Tracked directly into a Sound Devices 702 (originally at 24/96)