We booked Kyik Friendly Tours based on a recommendation – and we were not disappointed. We took two tours with Slava (owner/operator) – the Mezhyhirya and Lavra Tour. Both were wonderful experiences. Slava is a delightful tour guide, with lots of information and she is able to give you a level of comfort during your tour that you are seeing the important things, and knows how to navigate both the location and the system. Mezhyhirya is the private residence of former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych – it is the epitome of opulence and decadence if not good taste and restraint. While we visited the compound, there were countless other visitors BUT our group was one of only 2 small groups that were allowed access inside the house and spa. Access is very restricted and hard to acquire – but Slava got us in there. Being in the house reminded me of being inside a scaled-down modern-day Versailles or Winter Palace. I don’t think the tour would have been nearly as impactful had we not had the opportunity to go into the Yanukovych’s private quarters – how often does that happen on one’s travels? I should note too, that the grounds alone are most impressive when you factor in the guest houses, the boat bar, the golf course, the car museum, the zoo, and the rest. The Lavra Tour was also quite interesting. I would not have known where to start had we attempted to see this area on our own. It was very reassuring and efficient to have Slava leading us through the unlit caves (candles in hand – kinda spooky when you are standing next to the glass coffin of a saint), the numerous churches and the overall practices and customs. We were very fortunate to visit the Lavra on Palm Sunday so we even got to have our picture taken with one of the Orthodox priests. Although the churches are spectacular and rich with history I still found the highlight of the tour to be the micro miniature museum. I had minimal expectations of this museum but the miniatures are truly microscopic – they are mind-blowing. It is unfathomable how these masterpieces were created. We just missed the artist by minutes – darn!!! The museum is a MUST SEE!!! Again – having Slava with us was most helpful in getting some extra information as the museum staff didn’t really speak much English. Further to the great tours that we had I must add that Slava was very flexible in the start time, pick-up/drop-off locations and impromptu side trips (like an Easter market and the Motherland Statue) for our tours. Slava really is focussed on giving her clients an exceptional experience in Kyiv, she loves the city and wants to showcase this interesting destination – and she achieves that goal. We would recommend Kyiv Friendly Tours for all the things you should see in and around Kyiv.
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