I love a funicular. And Kyiv has a funicular. I don’t know why this isn’t near the top of any list of “things to do in Kyiv”; I found out about it almost by accident.
We took the metro to Poshtova plosha from where we would ride the funicular. But first, a visit to the recommended café, Kompot, overlooking the river. Top tips: don’t believe Google maps that tells you there is no way across the road from the metro to the river – there is a crossing; and don’t assume that the little round kiosk you see beside the river is all there is of Kompot – there is another terrace downstairs that you can’t immediately see.
We sat on the upstairs terrace, completely unaware of the nicer and more shaded terrace downstairs (shade being an important consideration on such a hot day). We stretched out our drinks for as long as we could, enjoying the views of the river and the general green-and-pleasantness of Kyiv. If I had the opportunity to go back, I would take the staircase down to the lower level and the much bigger terrace.
The funicular ride was short and probably a bit of an anti-climax (I think with funicular, the joy is all in the anticipation of the ride). (And the word itself, funicular. It’s a great word.) But it did save us a steep uphill walk so there is some saving grace.
We arrived at the top of the hill in Volodymyrska Park, another green and lovely space amongst the many green and lovely spaces in Kyiv. We wandered over to the Friendship of Nations arch – a big steel rainbow – then back through the park (pausing for an ice cream – it was a very hot day), to see the two churches: St Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery (sky blue) and St Andrew’s Church (turquoise). Both of these buildings were beautiful from the outside, painted such vibrant colours that they did not look real against the blue sky.
The road beside the park (Andriivs’kyi descent) is a bit of a tourist / art market. I love a market, and so does husband, as evidenced by how very quickly he spent all our remaining cash on t-shirts. Luckily there was an ATM nearby so we could replenish our funds.
After a spot of late lunch in an open air café (more Kvas!), we headed to the Children’s Landscape Park, another quirky Kyiv spot with Gaudi-esque sculptures depicting characters from Alice in Wonderland. The sculptures were wacky but fun, and it was great to see a cluster of children sitting with Alice.
We followed the path along through the park, with houses here on the ridge overlooking a park and some “wild land”. Our map said there was a path through the wilderness but after 20 minutes walking, we kept coming up against a cliff edge, which did have a path going down, but it wasn’t clear where it would come out, and I didn’t fancy trying to explain to the owner of the fancy house in the valley below just how it was we ended up in their backyard so we skipped it.
Instead we went back to Andriivs’kyi descent and followed it back around to come out by St Sophia’s, where we’d been on our first “proper” Kyiv day. We knew how to get home from here, but first we had a mission, and that was to find a hedgehog.
Not any hedgehog, of course, but Hedgehog in a Fog. He was on the list of quirky Kyiv monuments and when we saw we were nearby we had to hunt him down. The hedgehog is sitting quietly and thoughtfully in a little square behind St Sophia. When we stopped to take a photo, another couple passing by also stopped and came over to take his photo when we left. So although he looks lonely, it seems he does have regular company.
Since we had such a successful day, ticking off several things on our list, we decided to stop at the cherry wine bar, P’yana Vishnya, behind Independence Square. Here they poured us two fine glasses of delicious cherry liqueur. We noticed there were no seats in this micro-bar – probably to stop people staying too long and drinking so much of this delicious stuff that they fall over. We decided to stay for a second glass; and also bought a small bottle to gift to our neighbour for looking after our cat. And husband was not the only one spending money on t-shirts, I got the P’yana Vishnya souvenir t-shirt for myself.
Possibly a little wobbly now after our cherry wine, we headed home but paused by the Telavi Georgian restaurant on the corner of our street. The food looked amazing and we were hungry. We had a (short) debate about eating Georgian food while in Ukraine. But Georgian food is so good! Happily I won the argument, and so we settled in for some delicious food… and wine, of course. You can’t have Georgian food without Georgian wine.
We slept very well that night.