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Is the water safe and several other questions

Montgomery, Texas
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Is the water safe and several other questions

We're soon going to Kiev, and I read recently in a guide book that the water is not safe there, not even to brush your teeth. Is this true? If so, will we be able to purchase bottled water close to the Palace Hotel?

Also, I'm very interested in traditional Kiev handcrafts such as embroidered linens, the painted eggs (pysanky?), matrushkas (sp?), and other such things. Can these be found along St. Andrew's Decent-or is another place better for handcrafts? Also, can you suggest a price range for such things? I'm trying to determine how much money to plan to take/get upon arrival. Also, should we plan to use the local currency in small shops or are US dollars and/or Euros accepted?

Thank you so much for any help you can give me. From what I'm reading, it appears we'll run out of time before we run out of things to see/do!

1. Re: Is the water safe and several other questions

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Kyiv
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2. Re: Is the water safe and several other questions

Sorry, it was me above - ran out of time to edit..

***

Hi kazrose! Welcome to Kyiv forum :)

Indeed, it is highly recommended to avoid drinking tap water here. Only bottled water should be used for that. Locals usually filter tap water first, then boil it and only then consume (in cooking, making tea/coffee etc).

As for brushing teeth, I assure you that you won’t find a single local using bottled water for this purpose. However I know that many travellers feel better avoiding tap water for brushing teeth. So the choice is all yours. I personally find this an exaggeration unless you have certain sensitivity problems.

It’s not a problem to buy bottled water near the Premier Palace hotel. There is a kind of deli store (ukr. гастроном) right opposite the hotel, across boulevard, that sells it. Bessarabka market and Khreshchatyk Str. are in a very short walking distance, and it can be found there as well. You will also see kiosks along the streets selling some minor staff (snacks, cigarettes, chocolate), and water is sold there as well. Don’t be surprised at some price difference at these places, it’s a norm.

The sellers there will hardly speak any English, so you might care to learn few words:

(Mineral) water, please / (mineral’noj) vody, pozhalujsta [(минеральной) воды, пожалуйста]

sparkling / s gazom [с газом]

still / bez gaza [без газа]

1 litre / litr [литр]

1.5 litre / poltora litra [полтора литра]

1, 2, 3 bottles / odnu, dve, tri butylki [одну, две, три бутылки]

As for the souvenirs, yes, many of those can be bought on Andrievsky Descent. Try to get there on week-end, you can have a bigger choice. There also used to be quite a few souvenir shops on Khreshchatyk, where the choice of embroidered linen, in particular, was much better than on Andrievsky. But I’ll have to check if they are still there (lots of property redistribution took place there recently). There are also some souvenir stores in the underground shopping mall (Metrograd) close to your hotel, by Bessarabska Sq. Also, during some art and folk festivals you can get some unique and genuine staff.

Can I ask when do you plan to arrive? I could check if there are any events of the kind you might care to visit for this purpose. I’ll also check out some shops and update.

According to the legislation, hryvna (local currency) is the only legal method of payment on the territory of Ukraine. So don’t expect to be able to pay in foreign currency, except for some touristy services and products. Say, it’s no problem on Andrievsky when buying souvenirs; many tour companies and guides accept FX for their services; some hotels (not all) and rentals (almost all) take it as well. But you won’t be able to pay for public transportation; meals; sites’ entrance; museum, opera and concert tickets; goods in the stores, shops and kiosks.

But it’s not a problem to exchange currency in downtown. There are lots of money changers and banking branches and outlets. USD, EUR, GBP and RUR are accepted for exchange no problem. Just make sure the notes are new, not worm out or torn, or painted, or otherwise damaged. In this case you’ll get less for their value and only be able to exchange them in a bank.

Hope you have a great time in Kyiv! :) Please, feel free to ask if you have any other questions.

Montgomery, Texas
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3. Re: Is the water safe and several other questions

Cora-MANY thanks for all the information-I sincerely appreciate it! I also appreciate the more detailed information than I'd asked-such as the words to use with buying water-just hope we can pronounce it well enough to be understood.:) We'll arrive this Sunday afternoon (Sept. 12) and leave Thursday morning, staying at the Premier Palace Hotel. Since it's a business trip, we'll have random bits of time and opportunity to explore and shop-and, of course, want to make the most of it.

We do have another question which you might could clarify for us. We both take several prescription medicines as well as vitamins and other non-prescriptions. The information we've read suggests we need a lot of documentation for our prescriptions, and we wondered if bringing it in our carry on in the labeled boxes from the druggist with our names on them will be sufficient documentation? Also, would small bottles of ibuprofen and asperin be a problem, as they are not labeled with our names?

We are so looking forward to our trip, and your kind reply has really helped a great deal-again, thank you!

Kyiv
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4. Re: Is the water safe and several other questions

My pleasure :)

Talked to few people regarding bringing in medicines. All said it's no problem with unlabeled aspirin and ibuprofen; they are freely sold here, by the way. And you should be absolutely fine about your other medicines as described. Most probably no one would even care at all about checking them or any documents attached.

Back to souvenirs. Unfortunately I can't see at the moment any folk art events for these three days you're here. If you had more time, especially at week-end, I'd say try Pirogovo as well, but not if you're here on business.

In addition to Khreshchatyk, Maidan and Andrievsky, I just saw that lots of cheap touristy staff can be purchased from the souvenir stands along the way from Lavra to WWII complex or back.

But if you happen to be there and you would like to have some really good things, you might care to find Svitlytsya gallery (галерея Свiтлиця) instead. It’s located between these two prominent Kyiv sites and has some pretty unique staff to offer: wooden, ceramics, strawy, linen and other.

Open 11:00 - 19:00 Tuesday to Sunday; closed on Monday. Located 31 Ivana Mazepy Str. [вул. Iвана Мазепи], opposite Ivan Honchar Museum.

If you take a walk from Lavra to the left, towards WWII complex, there will be an arch to your left and the big sign «Музей Iвана Гончара» (Ivan Honchar Museum) pointing into it. Go through this arch and turn right, towards a living building. Walk along this building till its end until you see the open red door with so-called «Life Tree» painted on it, leading to the basement where the gallery is located. Double-check: small brick building opposite this door says «33 Iвана Мазепи».

Edited: 1:09 pm, September 09, 2010
Montgomery, Texas
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5. Re: Is the water safe and several other questions

Again, many thanks, Cora. You are certainly the best source of current information-and "interactive" also! :) I know from experience that often the information that is stated on "official" sites re arrivals process/requirements is somewhat different from actual practices-but that's not always the case-so we really appreciate your information. We usually find the typical tourist souvenirs a fun addition, but I'm happy to know some places to look for more of the "made by hand" traditional things from Kiev, also.

You've been such a great help-and we appreciate it so much. We're looking forward to being in Kiev!

Kyiv
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6. Re: Is the water safe and several other questions

Have a great stay in Kyiv, kazrose! :)

Would be wonderful if you could bother writing a couple of lines when you get back on how everything went. A real travellers’ experience is always so very valuable! 


Montgomery, Texas
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7. Re: Is the water safe and several other questions

Our recent trip to Kiev was business related so we had only limited bits and pieces of time to explore this wonderful city. We knew very little about Kiev, and we are quite happy we had the opportunity to experience such a beautiful and friendly city! We weren’t able to go to any of the museums, and we opted to see other things instead of spending the morning at the Lavre area-a difficult choice to make! We ate at random places as we were sightseeing and one arranged dinner at a nearby restaurant. (I don’t know the names of any of the places but will try to find out.) A taxi from the hotel to St. Andrew’s area was about 50hryvna. There are so many statues and monuments, parks, museums, churches, fountains, interesting buildings, etc.-could easily spend a busy week just sightseeing here! We enjoyed the food-especially Kiev cake which is as delicious as it is pretty. Look for cat sculptures in trees and other places-such a variety! We try to be aware of the normal things found in any large city-in Europe or the US- and we felt quite safe, although we were not out late at night and were usually in a group whenever we left the hotel.

Our group stayed at the Premier Palace Hotel-very convenient, comfortable, helpful staff, and expensive. There are lots of restaurants and shopping nearby, as well as being walking distance to several of the sites we were interested in. We also took an excellent bus tour arranged for our group, which included short stops at several of the sites and provided a general overview of Kiev.

In addition to the bus tour, we were able to spend some time walking on Vladimirskaya Street, where there are many tourist sites-the Opera House, Golden Gate (and park next to it), St. Sophia Cathedral (and the complex of several related buildings), St. Michael’s Cathedral, and several more. From St. Sophia, we walked over to Independence Square, and then along Khreshchatik St. (main street in Kiev and one of the widest in the world) to our hotel.

We did some shopping along St. Andrew’s Descent-lovely embroidered linens and blouses/shirts, hand carved/painted wood Santas, angels, and nativities, similar to the ones in Moscow, Ukrainian eggs-both hand painted wood eggs as well as chicken and geese pysanky eggs, and a nice variety of other things too. It seems there is one man who is in charge of all the stands, and the various sales people are quite aware of what you buy at which stall and what you’ve indicated interest in at other stalls. Bargaining seems to be expected, and the more you buy, the better price you’ll get. The St. Andrew’s Descent area is quite interesting, and it was a good place to see a lot of traditional Ukrainian things in one place.

I think our favorite places were St. Sophia and an area in Podil near the pagan worship area that is a children’s play area. St. Sophia is extraordinary-not only the structure but also the interior which has beautiful and very old (11th.c) frescos and mosaics. There are many places to sit and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere in the gardens within the St. Sophia complex. The children’s play area is quite imaginative with mosaic sculptures and wall murals. Where else do you find a place to sit in a cat’s mouth or an elephant with a Cheshire cat grin? However, we considered every place we went to be very much worth the time spent. Among the other places we saw are: Vladimir Cathedral, Andreevskaya Church (St. Andrews), Chimera House, several parks, monuments, various government buildings, and other old buildings. I also wanted to mention that several of us had various tour books, and by far, the most helpful and complete information was provided by Cora/Trip Advisor. Again, many thanks, Cora, for helping to make this a very memorable trip for us!

Montgomery, Texas
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8. Re: Is the water safe and several other questions

Cora, many thanks again-it was fabulous, and we have so many special memories! I hope my post is what you have in mind...please let me know if there's something specific that I've neglected to mention that you think would be helpful. The time went by all too quickly-there's so much to see and do!

Kyiv
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9. Re: Is the water safe and several other questions

Hi kazrose! Welcome back :)

How very kind of you to make such a detailed trip report! It’s much more than I expected :) I’m gladly adding it to our Trip Reports’ Collection tripadvisor.com/…28348864

I was also wondering about the travel trivia we discussed here - was everything ok with the customs? What did you finally decide about water? If you care to share, of course...

Thanks again for your feedback :) You managed to see quite a lot here on your short stay! I’m happy you enjoyed it :)

Montgomery, Texas
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10. Re: Is the water safe and several other questions

We had no problems with customs...just very long lines! :) Taking our labeled meds and small bottle of ibuprofin in our carry on caused no problems or even a close look. We decided not to risk any problems so we used bottled water to brush our teeth as well as to drink. We decided to assume the water used in ice, coffee/tea, and for cooking was properly treated-and we had no problems with that either. (We ate meals in the hotel and restaurants that seemed busy and in mainstream places-not the small out-of-the-main-path like we usually prefer- so I don't know if that makes a difference.) We wouldn't hesitate to return should we have another opportunity!