The city has some of the best Soviet war memorials, noting that the text at the main Babi Yar monument does not in fact refer to “Jews.” The museums are much better than expected, with at least five worthy of a visit, including the National Museum, the folk art museum, Scythian gold museum, and Russian art museum, and the Khanenko museum.
I am underwhelmed by the economy here, and Kiev is one of the least bustling national capitals I have seen, especially for a country of its size. The distribution of stores and commercial ventures is so thin as to remind me of some parts of San Francisco. Yes, this is August but still the streets feel empty, even in the center of town. Maybe especially in the center of town. The earlier Soviet infrastructure has not been built over, and the basic outline of the city does not yet feel “post-reform.”
Poland and Ukraine had about the same per capita gdp in 1992, but now Poland’s is three times higher. Even Russian wages are twice as high. The Ukrainian economy has shrunk 17.8% since 2008, and that is not even counting the loss of territory, which still counts statistically as part of Ukrainian gdp.
Markers of the new, post-2014 Ukrainian nationalism are seen frequently, and the use of the Russian language is actively discouraged.
There is a brand or chain of Karaoke parlors called “MAFIA Karaoke.”
Unlike some parts of Moscow, there are few signs of a rip-off culture here with respect to tourists. The citizenry is unfailingly helpful when possible, though short answers are hard to come by. People in random encounters seem quite willing to give all sorts of (wordy) advice as to what you should be doing and why.
Japanese restaurants are more common than Chinese. After Italian, there is not much culinary diversity to be seen, but the Georgian restaurants are among the best in the city. As for a single recommendation, Kanapa [Kanape] for “nouvelle Ukraine” would be my clear first pick, and it is on a picturesque street with many folk art stalls.
If two people each order bottles of mineral water, they will not open one bottle for each person. Instead, they induce you to first share the first bottle, and then the second, in sequence. Thus the water is not efficiently conserved.
It is remarkable how many different restaurants serve their chocolate ice cream with a basil leaf on top.