Kiev, 2011

In the beginning of 2011, I found myself on a short trip to the Ukraine to meet up with a fellow photographer. It was my first longer distance international trip in almost 8 years, so it took me a while to prepare everything.
But with a freshly printed passport in my hands, I embarked on a long and exciting journey that started around 4 am in Cologne and ended over 18 hours later in a large hotel in Kiev. Unable to sleep, I took my tripod and camera backpack and headed outside for a little walk around the neighborhood.

Mother Motherland

Back then, I didn’t have a smartphone with offline GPS navigation yet, so I had no idea where I was or where I was going. But I figured as long as I remembered enough parts of the way, I would find back eventually. I ended up walking along the Dnieper River and just kept looking for a nice view to take a photo. After passing an old, ornate bridge that was unfortunately being covered with a scaffolding, I found a spot along the river where I could see the massive Mother Motherland statue in the distance. Shooting with my (then new) tele lens, I got it into the picture large enough. After getting the shot, I decided that I was cold, tired and far enough away from the hotel to head back and get some sleep.

Down the Tube

The next morning, I consulted a little tourist map I had received from the friendly guys at the travel agency and took the Metro to the city center of Kiev. Riding the Metro is a lot like taking the subway in Cologne. Except it only costs 20 cents per ride, the trains arrive every 2 minutes and are never late. They are also completely packed with people at all times of the day. Something that struck me as really odd was that nobody ever smiled. Not on the subway, not on the streets and not in the shopping malls. I only recently learned why Russians are not smiling and I guess it is true for Ukrainians as well.

Birkutgrad

Navigating the subway was a bit confusing for me because the stations are all very large and have lots of hallways going in different directions. The fact that all the signs and station names are in Cyrillic didn’t make things easier. I tried to learn a bit of the Cyrillic alphabet in advance and kept a little transliteration table in my pocket but I still felt like back in Kindergarten when I was just learning how to read simple words. I exited the Metro in some place I didn’t originally want to go but decided to walk around a bit and take some photos anyway. I think it feels more authentic to have some shots from a completely random place in a foreign city.
Go to the gallery to find some more photos of Kiev!

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