By Len Friesen, Tour Leader
TourMagination’s Ukraine Heritage Tour is up and running for 2019. We actually met for the first time yesterday evening, almost that is. “Almost” because two people in our group were actually away all day yesterday on their own excursion to Chernobyl, site of that great nuclear tragedy in 1986.
So we all met for the first time over breakfast today before heading out on our tour of the city. Kiev is the capital of Ukraine today, but its roots are actually claimed by both Russia and Ukraine as the Mother City. We saw that ancient centre today in the shape of the Kiev Pechersk Monastery. The fact that it was a Sunday morning made it all the more magical as we joined the numbers who gathered for worship amidst priestly chants and choral splendour.
There were quite different emotions as we also toured the massive monument dedicated to the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany in World War Two. One of the largest monuments in Europe, it has both Soviet and Ukrainian layers with a dash of Russia thrown on, all of which adds to the rich complexity of this country, its past and its present.
We had lunch as the Princes’ Restaurant in the ancient city and across from the beautifully restored St. Michael’s Monastery (destroyed by the Soviets in 1936). The food was first rate, but the setting with its medieval low-set domes was no less striking. Then an afternoon of a slow paced walking tour before we came back to our hotel.
Which is where I am now. We’ll eat shortly before heading to Kiev’s famed Imperial-era Opera House for a performance of Puccini’s Turandot. It’s a great group that has gathered for this tour, but that hardly surprises anyone who has travelled with TourMagination before.
We’re one day in and already making connections. Oh yes, weather is wonderful, sunny with only a few clouds. No wonder people are out in droves in the heart of this great Capital and Ancient Kiev.