Prices in Kiev
Today we find Ukraine in a very interesting historical moment: from the steep economic contrasts of the post-Soviet decade, wealth has spread to a larger percentage of the population, while the vast majority of the country remains poor.
Whereas Moscow and St. Petersburg have grown into exorbitantly expensive metropolises, westerners in Ukraine will find their money will take them quite a long way, from sightseeing to dining or studying, Kiev has a host of advantages as one of the great Russian-speaking capitals of the world.
So let us make the assumption that you’ve decided, you’ve flown, you’ve landed. And if you are staying in Kiev for a while, how do you acclimate yourself? How do you get around, eat, and relax like a local? Read on!
An entrance token (µσ≥εφ) is 1.70 hryvna (0.21 USD) and passes may be purchased for multiple rides or month-long use (95 Hryvna, or 11.98 USD).
Like the Moscow metro, Kiev’s is clean, quick, and very convenient, taking you from one side of the considerable city to another in fractions of the time needed to do so on the cracked and congested roads.
One of the wonders (or horrors, depending on your love of adventure) of Kiev transportation is the marshrutka, short for "route taxi." This is a creation of the post-Soviet nineties, when tax-funded public transport ceased to exist.
Just make sure to yell, in your best imitation of three-beer Russian, before you zoom past your stop. Despite the occasional discomfort, marshrutkas are convenient and safe, and if you learn the routes, you will see both the celebrated and the hidden parts of the city, and feel the geography of Kiev a local, a self-guided tour for a quarter of a dollar.
Traveling within and outside of Ukraine is so easy, and so vastly differs from the experience of traveling in and out of Russia, that it baffles former foreign students of Moscow.
Traveling outside Ukraine is more expensive, but hardly more difficult. You may travel within Ukraine and not worry about being constantly checked for correct documents.
In contrast, traveling even within Russia involves constantly proving that yes, I am in this country legally, thank you officer, not to mention all the time spent assuring you have the proper paperwork to reenter the country if you choose to visit neighbors.
Supermarkets & "bazaars"
Living in Moscow for several months studying Russian, I was taken aback that Kiev is such an affordable city, where almost anything can be found. As an enthusiastic amateur chef, I need many spices, vegetables, products, and in Moscow it seemed that even fairly standard European and American products were difficult to find and/or very expensive to buy.
In Kiev the same products — cheeses, fruits, sauces, spices — that I could buy at only one super-expensive store in Moscow or had to tramp through shady and filthy bazaars to acquire, I find in many supermarkets here.
While Kiev is convenient, convenience is not everything: one necessary trip for the novice Eastern-European traveler is to the rynoks , also called bazaars, Ukraine’s open-air markets, which in the summer and fall are absolutely the best place to buy Ukrainian produce, organically grown by default, and incredibly fresh, delicious and cheap (unbelievably fragrant yellow tomatoes, cucumbers, and plums, and fresh mild cheese, are some of the bazaars’ summer specialties, and a kilogram of anything usually costs under 8 hryvna, or 1 USD).
But of course not everyone likes to make their own food, and not only produce can be found at the rynoks — they are buzzing hubs of commerce in every area, and to take one example — the book rynok at Petrovka metro, famous even beyond Ukraine: if it is printed, downloaded, listened to or watched, not to mention banned or illegal, it can be found at Petrovka.
Besides the chains of restaurants common to any even moderately developed country — McDonald’s and a rotating selection of international fast-food chains (at the moment Kiev offers Baskin Robins, Papa John’s and T. G. I. Friday) — there are many homegrown chains in Kiev, such as Puzata Khata (traditional Ukrainian), Celentano (pizza), Sushiya (hmm...), which offer excellent food at prices far below western standards.
A good meal at a restaurant catering to Ukrainians will cost between 30 to 60 hryvna.
To break 10 dollars (about 80 hryvna) on a meal, you would have to make an effort. To compare again with Moscow, a meal in a restaurant typically costs a minimum of 10 USD, and though this difference is not much in itself, obviously it makes itself felt over the course of a month.
Almost every popular ethnic food can be found in Kiev, including Chinese, Korean, even decently authentic Mexican food (but comically inauthentic is the norm).
For comparison, a ribeye-steak at Goodmans Steak House in Kiev costs 300 Hryvna (37.83 USD), while at their Moscow location it costs 1280 Roubles (41.13 USD)
Live music is performed in most central bars on the weekend, with rock, blues and jazz being the most common, and in the author’s experience the shows are consistently good and often excellent.
Last year, Gogolfest, which included Gogol Bordello and the No Smoking Orkestra, among others, was one of the highlights of the music scene, and Ukrainian bands such as Okean Elsy and Boombox, and touring international musicians, play constantly in the capital. Again, prices are incredibly low: to see an internationally known star, you shouldn’t part with more than 30 USD for a good ticket.
Written by Zachary King
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