Kyiv is expecting 70,000 tourists at UEFA Champions League final on May 26, 2018.
Despite messages that football fans return tickets to Champions League final because of problems with placement in Kyiv, Ukrainian capital is quite experienced and has already hosted a bunch of international events – Eurovision 2017, Euro 2012, to name a few.
We’ve already written about must-see traditional sightseeing points, must-eat national cuisine, must-experience Ukrainian hospitality, etc. Now we are going reveal some day-to-day realities that Ukrainians stopped even noticing, having used to it with mother's milk. The realities may cause a tourist from central Europe a load of surprise. So, here’s our small guide how to understand what’s going on here, in Ukraine!
Infrastructure and public transport
- Taxi. Your ride may cost more than expected. You can’t help it. There is no restraining, no police will help. The way out – use official taxi drivers and online services that estimate your ride when you make an order.
- Metro. When buying a ticket, you will hear a rule – one token per customer. If you need more than one token, you’ll have to persuade a cashier-lady (who never speaks English, be sure) that all the people (somewhere next to you) are going with you and you are buying the token form them. It’s hard to say, why it is so, we have two variants – the fee is going to rise soon and people are forced to use swipe cards to pay their rides. DON’T TRUST YOUR EYES should be your basic principle when it comes to public transport. If the display says the train arrives in 2 minutes, it doesn’t mean it will arrive in 2 minutes. It depends on a wide variety of factors, just deal with it.
- Marshrutkas. Another name – yellow limo. There routed taxicabs work on principle Ultra Maximum Sold Out, meaning that it a cab seats maximum physically possible number of passengers so that the doors are hardly closing. This is the way the things are done here. Don’t be surprised if a 50-seat bus takes 120 people – get ready that you’ll be hard to breathe and the people shall go on getting on a bus. That’s why people on the bus stops line up waiting for a bus, and when it finally comes they are not shy to use their elbows or in some other way try to be the first to get inside and take the best seats. You will feel blessed and happy when you get out when you reach your destination, we promise. And the schedule – it’s an official thing which is designed to exist, not to be followed. Thus one can wait for a bus
- Lithuanian car plates. There are lots of cars from Baltic states with the relevant car plates. Don’t worry – Ukraine is not occupied by Lithuania. Ukrainian citizens drive those cars with foreign registration. The situation is that customs fees are very high in Ukraine, which makes automobiles 30% - 50% more expensive than in Europe. Thus Ukrainians by vehicles in Europe, avoiding custom clearance.
- Heavy traffic. Just deal with it. First – summer is a season for yearly road repairs, second – many streets will be closed for traffic due to the football tournament. So – this is done to make people happy.
- Not every person speaks English in Ukraine, thus a tourist is recommended to have basic skills in body language.
- Hardly anyone shall avoid discussing political issues. So get patience, sit tight and see how it develops. It cannot be ruled out that you end up with singing a famous dirty language song about Russian President.
- Protests. They are everywhere! All the time. Minor clashes may occur. This is a Ukrainian tradition. The good news is that the protesters will do everything to help foreigners. CHKD at Eurovision, Euro 2012, etc.
Other common features
- Domination of billboards. Plenty of outdoor advertising adds to the “diverse” architectural ensemble as it was. This is style, but not the thing you thought of.
- Many automobiles. The cars are everywhere, they can drive the sidewalks for pedestrians, park on a flower bed, beep you when you are on a crosswalk, drive the red light.
- Cheap alcohol. It is available in almost every restaurant, shop or gas station, thought the law prohibits drinking alcohol on the streets. The city is planning to ban selling alcohol at night, but the changes shall be introduced not earlier than July in case the draft law adopted by City Council in June.
- Cheap food. Street food became extremely available and popular recently. However, the restaurants offer a wide range of quality and prices. Foreigners usually get impressed by democratic prices as well as by luxury restaurants with luxurious prices. Meanwhile, kiosks (rudiments from 90s) are still there at hand whenever you need them, both in the downtown and in the suburbs.
- Goodhearted people always ready to help. Malevolent persons still exist, but they are much more complicated to find.
To sum up
Be patient and courageous, don’t forget to be attentive and watch your belongings. Have a dictionary at hand and some pocket money. Use your common sense and be kind to the host city. And enjoy your stay in Ukraine!