Living in Baltimore, I am well positioned to visit my friends all over the East Coast. The only thing that limits me is my budget (I am wealthy in time, not money). I imagine that DC and Baltimore have a relationship similar to that of San Francisco and Oakland–so close but sometimes local cultures are polar opposites.
Prior to moving to Baltimore, I hadn’t been in DC since the traditional high school field trip to the Capitol. I totally forgot about how unique the Metro is in DC. One, because you get charged by distance and two, because nothing else looks so distinct. The majority of Metro stations were designed by Harry Weese, whose creation has been featured on modern architectural lists. Do you think you would know you were in the DC if you could only see the Metro station?
I normally don’t believe in waiting, but Blue Moon Cafe has a line for two very good reasons. 1) they don’t take reservations to the best of my knowledge and 2) their food is amazing. If you arrive during peak hours on the weekend, the wait can be upwards of an hour. Part of the wait and religious following can be explained by the Food Network appearance.
I love Blue Moon for the low key nature, it is very much come as you are. I have never felt out of place in my yoga pants or jeans. The wait staff is friendly and they share duties, so it’s OK to ask anyone for more syrup. The walls feature local artwork that rotate regularly.
What to order? I am exceptionally boring, and order the same thing every time–the Captain Crunch French Toast (it’s what they are famous for). Trust me, try it. Friends who come with me and tried something else have loved every dish placed in front of them.
If you’re not a waiting list champion Blue Moon Cafe is open 24 hours on the weekend. I have arrive at 7am and been seated without a wait. Waking up that early is certainly a trade off but there’s always naps!
We are back for a second look at Landscape Alley today. In the first part, I mentioned that all of the artwork and sculptures were created by Ukrainian artists. It is probably one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city, especially when taking into account that it’s free. The perspective of an outsider is that this is some great public art.
When Landscape Alley first opened to the public in Kiev, I have been told that some local residents really liked it, while others thought it was an embarrassment to the city. They would exclaim that this was not art, and the artists were just trying to make a mockery of the city. Now that Landscape Alley has had time to grown on the residents, there was a collective agreement that more sculptures should be added to Landscape Alley.
A sort of phenomenon that tourists might notice while trekking to the various attractions, is that young Ukrainian women dress up (maybe in their new favorite dress) then they go to some premeditated destination in the city with a trusted friend and will spend a lot of time taking pictures in front of statutes or posing in new settings. I am willing to bet that within a couple of hours those photos will appear on the Russian version of Facebook. This “hobby” can add time to your minute with the statue for family photos, but more importantly you are getting a taste of modern Ukrainian culture! Ukraine is a very image conscious place, they have more than one channel dedicated to fashion/model culture, so this may play a role in why you have a twenty something hanging out with the fanny pack crowd.
**Note to Readers: I am not from Ukraine and I have no language skills to speak of, so if you have any details to add about Ukraine, please don’t hesitate to bring them into the conversation! Thanks. Elise
Kiev’s main Square, Maidan Nezalezhnosti (sometimes referred to as Maiden for short), has huge old buildings that will take your breath away. It is at the center of the main street that runs through the city, Khreschatyk. Those majestic buildings you see in the pictures were spared from World War II. On the weekends, the main street actually closes down to cars so that pedestrians can enjoy it. If you visit it regularly, you might begin to recognize some familiar faces. One of my favorites is a woman who is panhandling, but for her cat who is elaborately dressed and leads a life of extravagance. You can find her always on Khreshchatyk, but not always in the same spot. The Main Square if probably one of the more tourist friendly areas. Maidan offers some great restaurants and 24 hour coffee shops (not as good as Golden Ducat though). It is where almost everything happens in Kiev, concerts and political events.
Speaking of political events, the above and below pictures are a protest for Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Prime Minister of Ukraine who most believe was wrongly jailed. In comparison to an Occupy protest, I would consider them very low in noise level and pretty tame. There are no real barricades to keep the crowds back on a Friday night.
Khreshchatyk is a great place to find a restaurant of any persuasion. Within a block of the metro station is are Indian, Japanese, traditional Ukrainian and Latin style restaurants. After about 24 hours in Ukriane, you will realize that sushi seems to be available at virtually every restaurant, so you don’t need to limit yourself to one nationality.
One thing that may be surprising to a foreigners is the parking rules in Kiev, of which there are none. You will literally see people driving on the sidewalk, and more often than that, you will see people parking on the sidewalk. Or anywhere really. It never stopped shocking me. Maybe I will provide some pictures later. What do you think of Main Squares? Are they relevant? Would you bear the tourists to see it?
Happy Tuesday Everyone! Ukraine tends to be a country that has tea time and a tea aisles that resemble a shrine colored with all that nature will allowed to be steeped in water. Me, being an American with coffee running in my veins, had to stifle my panic after finding there is not a very high quality coffee scene in the Ukrainian cities I have been too.
There is a place I was introduced to, eventually becoming a regular, called the Golden Ducat (translated to English). It is a relatively small franchise, I was first there in January while spending Christmas in a beautiful city called Lviv or Lvov. The shop there has mirrors on the ceiling and is decorated with rich, dark wood. It is a little piece of heaven in an enchanting city.
In Kiev, there are two Golden Ducats, one is near the Arsenalna station on the tube, (pictured above). They have a parrot there with an opinion about everything. The wall near the parrot cage has hundreds of coins stuck in the crevices of the wall if you look closely. The second coffee shop is my favorite one, off of Kreschatk Station on the tube (where the main square of the city is). You exit in the opposite direction of the main square and go up two sets of huge escalators and turn right. It’s about two or three blocks directly down the street. Truth be told, the second Golden Ducat is easily walking distance from Arsenalna station as well.
Why is Golden Ducat worth coping with the potential tourists that will be milling about? First of all, it is arguably the most famous coffee shop in Ukraine for a reason. They boast no artificial ingredients and care deeply about the quality of their chocolate. Second of all, they have a friendly staff, who will smile and remember your face. Third, the environment is both romantic (candles!) and laid back enough where you can come by yourself and not be made aware of it by everyone around you. All of the shops share a narrow, dark staricase and very solid wooden furniture. They are popular with the international crowd, don’t worry they have English menu’s. Personally, I would recommend their frappe. It is a delicious mix of milk, chocolate, ice cream and coffee.
There are tons of other coffee shops in Ukraine, but none have the homey, original feel of Golden Ducat. The some of the other coffeeshops feel strangely like Starbucks or at least taste like corporate interest. On a plus side, some of my less favorite one’s are open 24 hours. If you have visited Ukraine and had a great latte, feel free in chime in and leave a recommendation!
**A note to readers. I am not from Ukraine, and have absolutely no language skills, so I am going to step out on a limb and openly admit that I may have misspelled some items. When possible I use Google to check for accuracy, but for instance, you will notice no link to the Golden Ducat website, that is because I couldn’t find one. Please bear with me and feel free to share any information that may be helpful to others! Good luck on your search for that perfect cup of Joe!