One thing I realise while camping in the Polish mountains is that I’ve been trying to get to St.Petersburg for a long, long time now. Although I know I want to go there, it might just not be a real goal of mine, otherwise I’d have been there by now. So one day I go online in a library in a small and touristy mountain village, cancel all of my appointments, and give myself the freedom to really go wherever I want.
The next days I’m camping in the mountains, visit a dear friend in Poland, and make a detour to the Ukraine where I take a short course in horse-back riding, but skip on the solo parachute jumping. While recovering from overloading my legs (by playing football, and hiking to much) I take it easy in Kiev for a while. I buy a Russian book, and learn some cyrillic. It’s just an intermezzo though, as soon as my legs are in shape again I’ll be off to Serbia.
In the meantime, Kiev is okay though, I’m suprised by the high number of luxurious cars, and the trendy clothes the youngsters are wearing. It’s usually only the old, wrinkled people who are sitting on the streetcorner with a cardboard box of cigarettes, or are selling peanuts for one Grivnen (0.15 euro). Everywhere there are small shops, and you just have to be lucky to find the right one. When I went looking to find the Russian book, I got to a giant bookmarket with hundreds and hundreds of 8 square meter shops. And to complete the chaos it doesn’t help that the streets are bustling with buyers, the sellers mostly speak Ukrainian and Russian, and the signs are written in the Cyrillic alphabet.
In the evenings, and also in the afternoon, and for some people even in the morning, the small shops are especially useful for buying beer. It’s the one thing which is easy to find. Businessmen grab half an liter when coming from work, and young people can be found in many places with a row of empty bottles in front of them. Cigarettes may be dirt cheap, but beer is what really keeps the people going.