Kyiv’s main street, Khreschatyk, is pedestrian only at weekends – so instead of battling traffic, everybody gets out and about, walking up and down alongside the quad bikes, musicians, and the segways for hire.
It makes the city centre feel wonderfully democratic and friendly. You just have to avoid getting your photo taken with a fun fur costumed character who will then pursue you for money. We walked there to catch a marshrutka – the battered yellow minibuses that are part bus/part taxi – to get out of the city centre in search of cossacks…
We were heading out for lunch – in a restaurant in a place dedicated to maintaining Cossack traditions, where we drank chilli vodka with pickles, followed by rabbit stew.
Natasha and I visited because there was a “celebration of Ukrainian womanhood” going on, which involved young women showing off their prowess – with song, dance, and some sort of treasure hunt.
Young men with their hair cut in a Cossack-style – chupryna (чуприна in Ukrainian), or oseledets (Ukrainian: оселедець, which means herring) describes a man’s haircut which features a lock of hair sprouting from the top or front of a shaven head – galloped around impressively on horses, and showed off in front of the girls.
The wagon of pumpkins didn’t get used much – evidently, “in the old days” if you didn’t want to marry the boy who asked, you gave him a pumpkin by way of a brush off. (See how I’ve slipped in a seasonal reference, but without mentioning Halloween, which isn’t really celebrated here).
In the evening, we swapped the rough wooden tables and earthenware crockery of the Ukrainian peasant for the luxury of the Panorama Restaurant at the Hotel Dnipro – where we could only afford one drink, but the view was awesome!