As we are counting the last weeks of 2017, I remembered how I’ve celebrated the last New Year. The festivities that marked the beginning of this wonderful year full of new experiences, beautiful cities and growing hunger for more travels. I’ve met the New Year of 2017 in Kiev, Ukraine. The flight of 58 minutes, and here we were, the city started to amaze us from the sky – wonderful golden roofs of Pechersk Lavra, the huge metal statue “Monument of Motherland” pointing her hands to the sky.
We came to Kiev on the 31st of December in the late afternoon. So the center of the city met us with all the Christmas lights shining, and the atmosphere filled with the smell of ginger cookies and hot vine. Our hotel was one of the main streets of Kiev, „Mini hotel Kyiv downtown“ was on the 12 floor of apartment building. The view through the window was to the square of Maidan, which was about 1 kilometer away, and few of the Kiev’s skyscrapers.
There was still time till the midnight so we went out to explore the area. What a big city… The streets are so wide… And the buildings … How beautifully decorated and lit … Wow … Just as we reached the Chreschatyk Street, we went in to a huge shopping center (as I understood “Central Department Store”), we went in, because we were attracted by concierge that was opening doors to the clients. Inside, it was probably a complex of luxury shops and cafes spread in seven floors. It seemed that nobody bought anything, only curiously looked at the clothes, shoes, perfumes…
The next “point” on Chreschatyk Street was the ROSHEN sweetshop. There was a two-floored store full of well-known ,and not yet seen sweets. Prices looked similar to those in Lithuania’s trading centers. But it’s a branded store in the city center where people buy sweets like souvenirs, not as a dessert … Having gotten some “test” sweets and eclaires, we went to a nearby grocery store to buy a champagne for celebration.
As we continued the walk on the Chreschatyk Street, we were amazed by the greatness of the buildings. It really is one of the most beautiful streets in the world. It can not be attributed to its buildings either to the Soviet legacy or to modern times, a prototype of the German / Roman magnanimity. The capital, where you feel so small. Our eyes were attracted by Kiev’s homeless people we saw everywhere: underground passages, and on the streets. I wouldn’t say that all of them are alcoholics, there were a lot of old women, just sitting on the streets and asking for support. On Chreschatyk Street we came to the Maidan Square. The beauty of Christmas decorations were restrained throughout the square..
From the Maidan Square, we headed to one of the smaller streets leading to the main square of the city. All the events and entertainment of the Christmas season took place there – in the Sofia Square. Until we reached the main square, we were wondering where all the people are. The streets were rather empty for such a big city, and it was the New Year’s Eve … But we found them. The people gathered at the main Christmas Tree near Sofia’s Cathedral, and walking on the street connecting Sofia Square to Mikhailovsky Square, where the main Christmas Markets took place. It was so called Kiev’s “Christmas Town”… Well, while at the Christmas Fair, the best Ukrainian treats rules, and wine, wine wine…
Getting closer to the midnight, we had more doubts, weather to go to the main square of the city, or is it enough to see the fireworks through the window. After all, we live in the center of the city, and this is the capital with 3 million people. Festive people. But we have already come all this way, we need to see how Ukrainians celebrate. As it’s just a 10-minute walk from the hotel.
Sofia’s Square was full with families and friends’ companies. Most often, a larger companies made small family picnic places.. And ‘family’, I mean from grandparents to grandchildren, uncles and neighbors … The Ukrainian songs were played in the scene, and the event was given by the stars of local significance.
The President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, who spoke for an extremely long speech, appeared at midnight on the screen … His speech lasted too long, until the few minutes after midnight. So everyone in the square met the new year according to their own watches. The celebration was quite chaotic, every 10 seconds in a different corner champagne shots, screams and … confetti paper rain. No fireworks were fired in the square … Everything was just a confetti rain … A few minutes after midnight, when the President congratulated everyone on New Year’s Eve, the orchestra played the Ukrainian anthem and we saw the fireworks through … the screen … Seriously, we could not believe that we celebrate New in the main square of the capital, where the fireworks are just on a large display!
The event’s leaders drew everyone’s attention to the artistic installation, where it was supposed to be the most spectacular light show … Well, in our opinion, there was something unsuccessful – neither spectacular nor show … And finally, somewhere far above buildings, the real fireworks appeared . At a distance from the square, it seemed that there were somebody’s private fireworks here, perhaps some organizations, or so, because the “light show” was still at the square.
On the way home we stopped at the Golden Gate, the old gate of the city, just to take some picture when the gate guard appeared. He was extremely happy, kind and slow… He urged us now (~ 1 AM) to enter this museum. We did not really understand whether it was free or for a “symbolic fee,” but because it was our first encounter with the Ukrainians in the “service”, we just refused the proposal and went straight home. So this was the New Year celebration in the capital of Ukraine – short, colorful and most importantly safe.