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Published: October 17th 2019
Today we have our own personal tour guide (Tom has kindly offered to show us round, despite a broken foot). We start at Rodina Mat – a huge statue depicting the motherland with a war museum at its base. The design is similar to Minsk’s Museum of the Great Patriotic War, only here the museum, entitled: Ukraine, an unfinished War, tells a far less pro Russian version of events. Outside, from a row of 3 Soviet tanks, one has been painted in the colours of the Ukrainian flag and turned to face the others.
The Motherland statue depicts a lady holding aloft a sword and shield. You can take a lift and climb a series of ladders up 36 metres to a viewpoint at the bottom of her skirt or climb a further 64 metres of ladders to the top of the shield. We wimp out and opt for her feet where a 360 degree viewing platform provides a great view of the city.
After a break for lunch (chicken Kiev, of course, and Obolon beer) we visit the Pecherska Lavra, a monastery consisting of a series of gold domed churches cascading down the hillside. At the bottom are
complex of caves lined with mummified monks. I have to wrap a blanket round my trousers and wear a headscarf. It’s 22 degrees so wearing the blanket is quite a trial, as is trying not to trip over it on the stairs. We follow a group of pilgrims who all purchase a candle at the entrance. We assume this is for religious reasons. In fact, it is pitch black in the caves. Luckily, I have my trusty iPhone to light my heathen way.
Our final stop is Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square). This was the venue for Ukraine’s pro independence demonstrations. It’s interesting to visit with a local who was here for the latest of these struggles and provides a vivid account.
We return home for a dinner consisting of caviar and champagne from Odessa. Our host is ensuring we get the full Ukrainian experience.
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