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3 Things You Definitely Find Weird in Kiev

3 Things You Definitely Find Weird in Kiev

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Having been a resident of Kiev for 13 years and have rightly gone native, I may confess that I’m in great love with this amazing city. Kiev has got an exceptional atmosphere. This is a city you fall in love with. If you were born here and live – you probably are its ardent patriot. And if you came here as a tourist – having visited Kiev once, you’ll want to come back again and again!

Almost every traveler cherishes the warm memories, and will tell friends about the steep green slopes of the Dnipro river; panorama of Kiev with numerous golden domes, bridges across the Dnipro; about the blooming chestnut trees on Khreshchatyk street and coloring of Andrew’s descent.

Kiev is a hospitable and European city with developed infrastructure, 1,500 years history, and welcoming and friendly citizens. But there are things which you might not notice having been staying here for a short period of time. You might not find out these things staying in the central touristic areas of the city. Though an observing and experienced solo tourist will probably notice it exploring the city far and wide.
As a Kiev private guide, I’d like to mention some …weird things which I myself don’t really like and find not very positive about the city.

  • Crazy “marshrutkas”

There is one means of transport in Kiev, it is called “marshrutka”.
These are mini buses which transport passengers on the specified routes of the regular transportation.
Their rates are usually a bit higher than rates of the public transport.
There is a real lack of transport in Kiev as public transport cannot cope with all the passenger traffic.
“Marshrutkas” are always stuck with passengers in the rush-hours.
Kievans are compelled to use “marshrutkas”- though know how uncomfortable and dangerous they are.
Anyways, I have nothing against it, but what I want to tell about are the drivers of “marshrutkas”.

marshrutka, Kiev city transport
“Marshrutka” in Kiev street

Typically, these are mostly men who have come to Kiev from villages or settlement of urban types.
They live either in hostels provided by the transportation company or rent apartments where they live 3 people in one room, it’s cheaper. They work week by week in shifts, working hours from 5.30 a.m. till midnight. So you can imagine what lack of sleep, malnutrition and constant nervous tension can make with a man.

On the route, they often behave in a very rude way, may forget to make a stop even if the passenger asked for it beforehand, accelerate the bus to a high speed and then abruptly brake, and the passengers in the salon who stand start falling on one another. Some of them they may come to the work in a slightly drunk or even worse – drugged condition.

After all, the situation is aggravated by the fact that the driver should not only watch the road: all this time, he also leads cash payments! He gives change to the passengers as he works without check-taker. Of course, there are many quite normal adequate drivers. But the percentage of the rude drivers is rather high.

  • the Romany or the Gypsies

There is quite an acute problem with spontaneous settlements of the Romany which has appeared in Kiev for the last two years. There are encampments in the Left bank of the city and in the suburbs. One nearly 200 people gipsy band settled in the left bank district of Kiev. It appeared in the middle of the garbage.
Its inhabitants live in 35 huts made of planks, carpets, and oilcloth.

The Gypsies are mostly beggars or thieves. Romany thieves mostly hang around bus stops, in public transport, in shopping malls, in the central railway station. To attract their attention, it’s enough to carry a bag or backpack and be scattered. They may completely unnoticeably pull out the wallet or phone from the pocket of the backpack or handbags. In shopping malls mostly they work in groups of 3-4 women.

The Gypsy beggars reside near the churches, passing by merciful church parishioners may give some small money to intrusive gypsy children. Very often I see pregnant Gypsy women begging in the subway passages.
Also, Romany women sit begging with infants in the streets, you will obviously see them in the main Kiev street Khreschatik. So, be aware of your personal things in crowded places, especially when you see Gypsy on the horizon.

  • Rich and Poor Gap

There’s also one sad thing about living in Kiev. The contrast between poor and wealthy people. The poor are mostly pensioners, elderly people who practically survive on their pitiful pension benefit. The minimum pension in Ukraine is the lowest in Europe. The retired Ukrainians receive not less than 1373 UAH which is 50 USD. Also, low salaries have public sector employees like teachers, doctors, social workers.
The biggest part of the salary is spent on the payment of utilities which increased enormously for the last 2 years.

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The minimum salary in 2017 is 3200 UAH per month (or 19.34 UAH per hour). The minimum cost of living working people in 2017 is 1684 UAH. (3200 UAH=118 USD, 1684 UAH=62 USD)

On a great contrast to the surviving population of Kiev live wealthy citizens. These are mostly deputies, ministers and their family members, corrupt officials, bank top management, entrepreneurs, and a new but rapidly developing field – IT workers.

You might probably know about Ukrainian IT developers. Only in the first half of 2016 Ukrainian IT-companies received orders for $1.5 billion. At the same time on the background of the falling economy, the number of orders continues to grow. The salaries of developers start from 2000 USD = 54,182 UAH per month. Those with a 5-6 years IT experience receive from $4000 = 108,365UAH.

I believe that Kiev has an immense development prospect. I sincerely enjoy my occupation of a tour guide and happy to provide Kiev city tours. The city has everything for a comfortable living. Rich cultural life, ancient touristic spots, green areas, parks, picturesque Dnipro slopes, hospitable citizens, industrious workers, talented managers, well-developed infrastructure, and geographical location in the very center of Europe.

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