Tag: Moscow

Kyiv Life. Bombs, Babushkas and Sunshine


On the 27th April, a series of bombs exploded in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk. The bombs were planted in dustbins around the city and whilst nobody were killed, many people were injured including a number of children.  As far as I know, the blasts haven’t been claimed by any group and nobody has been arrested or charged over the attacks.  Living in Kiev, the strangest thing for me was the complete absence of any security operation here. OK, something may have happened behind the scenes but I walked past the presidential buildings on the evening of the attacks and there was almost no security. If bombs went off in Birmingham, I’m sure the response in London would be considerable.

Oh, and for the record, Dnipropetrovsk is not a host city for the EURO 2012 finals. The international press seemed to have a problem with this.

Storms without rain

The weather this month has been amazing. We bounced from penguin weather to +30 almost overnight, and it has really put a smile on the face of the city. Ukrainian men swapped their flat-caps for gangster-esque sunglasses and the girls swapped their high-heels for summer high-heels.

Since Thursday we’ve had more rain and while the sunshine is still here, so are the thunders storms.

In the UK we get thunder about twice a year, you never see fork lightning and storms always bring rain. Here its a whole different ball game. Last Thursday I stood on a hill in Podil which overlooks half of the city and watched lightning flashes closed in from both sides of the river. We decided to move, but as the storms blew-over our heads we stayed outside for the rest of the evening in nothing but a light sprinkle of rain.

The same happened on Friday as I walked home from Pushcha Voditsa. Lots of noise, large cracks of lightning and no rain.

Trams and tramps 

I went to Pushcha Voditsa because I need to do a serious amount of walking before I walk around Mt. Blanc at the beginning of July, and as the walk home is 50% forest paths, it’s the perfect place to do it.  On the tram there, a round-face babushka who was wearing a baseball cap sat-down next to me and did what all good Ukrainians do when the suspect you’re a foreigner – she asked my the time.  I told her in very bad Russian and she looked smug because she had ousted me. Maybe she learnt this in a communist youth camp or something, but when I said I was from Great Britain her boyish face lit-up like the sun. She gave me two thumbs-up and said it was a great country. Ukraine, she said, was awful and then she made a fist sign with one thumb stuck between her index and middle fingers. She looked mischievous and said something unpleasant about President Yanukovych.   “Write about it” she said, after hearing that I was a journalist, and then she repeated the same thing again, this time in reverse  (bad words about the president followed by the fist and thumb).

By the time we arrived at the edge of the city, she was involved in an animated conversation with a middle aged man and a 20 year-old Ukrainian boy who she thought was my friend.

I looked out of the window and another babushka was pulling the ear of a drunk tramp who had fallen asleep next to a bus shelter with his head on a rock. The guy sat-up and looked confused while the old woman told him to get up and kept pulling his arm. He didn’t look like he was going to move, but she looked equally determined to make him.

I didn’t see how it ended because the tram crawled off into the forest, but I wondered why Ukrainians do this. I saw it before outside my office when a guy in a suit climbed out of his expensive car and started laying into the tramp that was sleeping on the bench. Shouting at tramps seems to be fair game in Ukraine.

For the rest of the journey I answered the usual questions out not having a wife, the beauty of Ukrainian girls and the location of my parents etc. I climbed off the tram as we arrived, said goodbye and then walked off into the forest. They looked at me like I was a weirdo.


On Monday 7th May I finally took delivery of my first ever book. I can officially call myself an author.


There are adverts all over the Kyiv metro advertising a language school called Speak Up.  If you’re Ukrainian and want to learn English, I seriously recommend you don’t study there. The single sentence on the poster in English, is incorrect.  It’s quite incredible that a school advertising English classes could be that stupid, but there you go.

Kiev is better than Moscow

Dnepr river in Kiev

Dnepr river in Kiev (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Saturday my Italian friend came to visit for three days. She’s been working in Moscow for a year and before she left on Monday, she confirmed what everyone always tells me when they come here from Moscow – Kyiv is so much nicer. The people are friendlier, the air is cleaner, the city is nicer.

Running Babushkas

I was working the night-shift this week and this means I take the metro home early in the morning.  Every time I do, I stare in amazement at the running babushkas (grandmas).  Nobody has been able to explain why, but if you stand in Klovska metro at 6am, you’ll see 70 year-old women running (even sprinting) between the metro stations.  Would it be wrong to film it and post it here?

Guys with guns

This week there appears to be more police standing at each metro station. There’s always been at least one, but now there’s almost always four or five.  I’m not sure if this is meant to make me feel more secure, but it doesn’t. For those who are unfamiliar with Ukraine’s boys in blue, they mostly stand around looking bored/shifty, wearing uniforms that are slightly too big and smoking.   They’re not unlike naughty schoolboys except they have guns.

City guide: Dnipropetrovsk

A native’s guide to Dnipropetrovsk

By Yulia Pentko


I would be happy to tell you more about my hometown Dnipropetrovsk. Although it has very long and difficult to pronounce name Dni-pro-pet-ro-vsk a long time ago it used to have a shorter one: Ekaterinoslav.  It was named and founded in honor of Ekaterina the Great (Catherine the Great) who was a  Russian empress more than two centuries ago. Dnipro (this is a short little name for my beautiful city) is situated in the heart of central Ukraine, exactly in the middle of the country. And the river Dnipro takes its long way through the city.

Dnipro is big industrial and business center.  You can find a lot of highly developed industrial plants and a few government classified institutions, such as “Yuzhmash” (The A.M. Makarov Yuzhny Machine-Building Plant) which specializes on space technologies.

I was born here over twenty years ago and I still live here. Why?  Because I have been traveling abroad and I have seen another completely different cities, but the fun is here. It is also a good place for business.

What you should defiantly know about Dnipropetrovsk is that it has such a funny and chaotic type of transportation – the Marshrutki (mini-buses). You should always tell the driver when and where you need to stop before you arrive there.

Also, our Dnipro citizens like beer very much and there are plenty of places where you can buy a drink. If someone takes you for a beer somewhere you should expect some adventures.

And don’t underestimate “babushkas” (old grannies), they can always overtake, fight, kick and swear you. It’s not a joke it’s a caste!

I don’t advise you to eat on the streets alone, but if you still want to, try to find a local friend to tell you what the best place is. We have a joke about it: “Buy four shaurmas (special meal) and collect a cat!”

What to see

If you are going to spend some time in Dnipropetrovsk there are a few places which would be interesting for you:

First of all it is our riverside. It is the longest embankment in Europe and it is very beautiful.  Many citizens prefer to spend their time on the riverside on warm summer, spring and autumn days, evenings and afternoons. You can meet many different types of people there. Such as bikers on their Harley-Davidson and Yamaha, hip-hop dancers, yoga masters doing their exercises on fresh green grass,  guys with slack line and poi, fish men, musicians and usual walkers.

Europe's longest embankment - Dnipropetrovsk

Europe's longest embankment - Dnipropetrovsk

You also have to see Monastirsky island. Different from Dnipropetrovsk, it has thousands of years of history.  Starting from the ancient Skiff tribes and ending with a story about Potemkin’s treasures inside the Island.  Nowadays there is a big park with many different attractions.  And on the park side above the Island there is a very beautiful view on the riverside.

If you go over the bridge to this Island, exactly under the bridge (you have to climb down to get there) you will find another very beautiful view of the river.  If you go below the bridge you will also find a nice climbing wall, where climbers and tourists practice.

Our city has a very good theater for an act called “Krik”, they perform ones a week. And I haven’t met anyone who was unsatisfied with it. The actor Michael Melnik is the only actor and director of the performances. He has won many theater awards.  Among his famous performances you can see “Lolita”, “Mollis”, “Taras Bulba”, “Perfume” etc.

If you are a football fan you would be  very happy to visit our new Stadium, which we have built for Euro 2012. It is exactly in the downtown and it has a name “Metallurg”.

The next place is not famous by any means, but I really like Barikadnaya str., it is in the downtown, next toKarla Marksa Central Avenue. There are many Tilia trees and a big rose supermarket. If you walk along the street when Tilia blossoms you can smell all the wealth of flavor of them around you. I really enjoy such walks.  By the way there is a very nice small restaurant “Pastoral” where you can have a cup of very nice coffee and some sweets.

If you go further along the street you will meet the biggest Jewish culture center in the world “Menorah”. It has the form of seven-branched ancient lamp stand Menorah.

The botanical gardens, many wild beaches, and an old pinewood on the city line, – all these places are awesome to visit during summer. I would also take you to “Balka”, this is a huge deep gorge not far from center, my friends and I use to have picnics there, camp and walk on slack line above the valley. It is a very quiet and wild natural place.


If you come in winter you can go skiing or snowboarding at “Lavina” sport center.

Finally, if you want to have a cup of a good coffee you better go to “Coffee room” café. It is small and nice place with very delicious coffee. But if you want to feed yourself well go to Puzata Hata. They serve traditional Ukranian dishes.


If you want to visit Dnipropetrovsk, you can always use the railway and bus services. Trains and buses come here from any big city inUkraineand few cities abroad, such asWarsaw,Moscow,Baku, Kishenev etc. Indeed, you can fly by plane. But the easiest way would be to travel here fromKiev.

Good luck in your journey and enjoy Dnipropetrovsk!


Dnipropetrovsk central train station

Dnipropetrovsk central train station

About this guide

Our city guides are written for you by Ukrainian’s who live, or have lived in the guide city. If you would like to write a guide to your city or become a city ambassador, please write to Ian at: ian@bluetoyellow.com

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