Monday. Our first week day in Kiev. I got up to a gorgeous morning. Bright sun, crisp air, light breeze. Just gorgeous. And, as Liesl pointed out, a city that is far cleaner than anything in Italy. Leave it to Liesl to notice the litter, or lack of it here.
Once up, I got picked up and driven into the office. It really is not very far, but Anton insisted on driving me today. So I just went in with him to make things extra easy. I got a tour of the place, which is much larger than I was expecting it to be. Multiple buildings and pretty much right in the center of the city. Really nice facility.
We went out for lunch today to an Indian place that is near the office. It was a big restaurant and really nice, but there was no one there but us. Just the two of us in this giant place. I have no idea how they make any money, it makes no sense.
Lunch was really good. It was a short day in the office. I went home and spent some time with the family.
Then this evening, Max and one of the guys from the office picked me up (via Uber) from the apartment and we went out to find an authentic Georgian restaurant that is well known. Georgian food is common throughout the former USSR states because Georgia is the heartland of comfort food in Eastern Europe and was considered the best food in the whole of the USSR. So today, much as how Italian places are common in the US and most western countries, Georgian are common in eastern European states.
This was a fully authentic Georgian restaurant with menus actually in Georgian. I’ve had Georgian before, in New Jersey, and it was decently authentic, but not to the same level at all. This was really serious and, of course, we are in Kiev so this is a pretty good place to get real Georgian. Nearly as good as you can get without going to Georgia itself. Georgia is one of our top “places we need to go see next” on our travels.
I got a small khachapuri (cheese bread) which was off the hook amazing. First, it was huge. I mean really huge. Like more than a pound of food. Super hot, fresh bread in kind of a bowl shape, full of super hot liquid cheese. They bring it to the table like that. Then they break a few raw eggs into the cheese and whip it up right there in front of you at the table. The cheese is so hot that it cooks the eggs almost instantly. So it is kind of like scrambled eggs, but so thinly divided in all of the cheese that it just adds to the general body of the whole thing.
It is hard to eat both because it is very messy, but also because it is very hot and greasy. You just grab and break off pieces of bread and dip it into the eggy cheesy goo in the middle. Delicious. I have wanted to try this for years. So glad that I got to have it here. Totally amazing. I’m so sorry that Dominica was not able to come along; she would have loved getting to try this. The cheese and bread as so unique. They are not things that can be easily replicated in some other region of the world. So getting this in the US would be, I assume, essentially impossible.
We also got some Georgian sampler platters of dips and veggies and stuff. All of it was great. I was so full by the time that we were done.
After dinner we took a long walk through the city to get to the metro and took that at Golden Gate station, so I got to see the opera, Golden Gate, and other major landmarks on the walk. Kiev is a nice city to walk through, very safe and easy to navigate. But it is large so going everywhere on foot is not very practical.
Golden Gate Metro was fun to get to go into. Entering it requires you to go down the two steepest and longest escalators I have ever seen in my life. I mean seriously deep. I know that there is possibly the world’s deepest escalator in the Kiev metro system, but it is not this one. This might be number two, however. It is so long that you get vertigo just looking down it. If you are not careful you will get mesmerized and just fall forward and topple down it!
Max gave me a mini tour of the subway station which was insanely interesting. It was very large and cavernous. He explained that this was a Cold War nuclear shelter meant for Kiev residents to flee to and would protect them from a direct nuclear hit on the city above. The giant blast doors still work and are tested regularly. They were giant round doors that would close and as they closed people would be unable to get out and would slide down the doors into the subway station. That this whole complex was built so deep and so thoroughly to protect them against us made it that much more interesting. Very akin to the Halifax citadel.
So I got to ride the Kiev metro back to near the apartment and then walk just a small way from there. It was a nice night, just a little bit chilly. But I enjoyed the walk and seeing the city. I am going to like it here. I have found that I really enjoy eastern Europe. Food, culture, people, and often even the weather here suit me very well.
Tomorrow I am going to attempt walking to the office all by myself. I have no pressing need to be anywhere at any particular time so if it takes a while or if I get lost it is not a big deal.
At this point, very happy with Kiev and Ukraine. I just wish that the family could come out with us. Although everyone, I am sure, is very much enjoying some decompression time right now and is pretty happy to not have to go anywhere. Having solid Internet, television, Netflix, power, and water is a bit of a novelty for them and they are all taking advantage of it.
In the office I have a redundant gigabit connection, so even faster than the apartment! We are going to get spoiled.