A Red’s Guide To Kiev
As thousands of you get set to start your journeys to the Champions League Final in Kiev. Ukraine, to watch the mighty Reds in action we thought it only right to give you all the info you need on how to have a safe and enjoyable trip.
From convo to currency we’ve got you covered…
It’s a common misconception that you’ll need Euros in Ukraine, when, in fact, the currency is Ukrainian hryvnia. £1 is about 35.35UAH and the pound goes a long way with the average price of a beer being between 15UAH and 50UAH depending on whether it’s imported or not. The symbol is – ₴ – and it is a closed currency; meaning that you can only get it in the country itself. So take sterling and exchange it there, or even use your card abroad which is commonly done.
Zakuska is a strange one, found only in this part of the world. An entirely foreign concept to western drinkers, Ukrainians use zakuska as a means to avoid splitting hangovers from a night of drinking vodka. It works like this: when you take a shot of vodka, you keep a piece of food nearby, usually fresh vegetables like gherkins, with salt to dip it in.
Other ‘delicacies’ to try include traditional dishes such as borsch (beetroot soup), varenyky (filled dumplings, almost like huge ravioli, pictured above) and golubtsi (roasted cabbage wrapped around mince meat in a tomato sauce). And, as silly as it sounds, Chicken Kiev – although it’s called Kievskaya kotleta over there. If local cuisine isn’t tantalising your taste buds, then don’t worry, Kiev is like any city in the fact that you can get food from all over the world.
Vodka – you’re in Eastern Europe after all. However, fear not, it’s not just the clear stuff, the drinking culture in Ukraine is varied and very free spirited, with Closer being a 24 hour club that has gained infamy alongside the likes of Berlin’s Bergheim. Beers and other spirits are widely drunk, with Budvar style, dark beers being the ale of choice. However, it is Ukraine, so a vodka shot or two will be unavoidable, so wash it down with the Ukrainian version of “Cheers”, “Nosdrovea” – but be warned, if you say it you must drink or it is seen as impolite.
Check out these basic phrases so that you can keep the locals onside and understand at least a little of what is going on around you…
Dobryj den’ = Hello
Pryv’it = Hi
D’akuju = Thank You
Bud’ laska = You’re Welcome / Please
Tak = Yes
Dobre = Good
Vybachte = Excuse me
De futbolʹnyy stadion = Where is the football stadium?
Skilky = How much?
Vy hovoryte anhlijs’koju = Do you speak English?
Pa-pa = Bye
Kiev isn’t somewhere that you should really rent a car as parking is limited and the road networks can be confusing for first timers. As with most cities, and because you’ll probably be having a bev or two, taxis and public transport are the best way to get around. Uber is available, as well as local equivalent called Uklon, with both being preferable to cab like services as they are often unreliable and can try to rip you off.
You can also get around relatively easily on the metro with a one-way ticket costing just 4UAH – 5UAH, regardless of destination. It is the world’s deepest subway system, requiring escalator rides of seven to eight minutes sometimes. Trains run frequently between around 6am and midnight. Blue zhetony (plastic tokens) are sold by cashiers or you can buy a plastic card that can be topped up at any station.
We’re sure that you have all heard about the controversy surrounding accommodation for this weekend, with hotels, hostels and even Air BNB raising their prices to extort money from the loyal fans. Because of that, the Internet exploded with hospitality, welcoming Kiev residents offering their spare rooms, couches etc. for a fraction of the price, or, in some cases, for free. That was certainly the case for one of the biggest groups on Facebook, Free Couch For Football Fans 26/05/18, set up by a Victor Kylymar. Check out this site too so that you don’t get ripped off because of the occasion.
– Tap water is not recommended, however it isn’t the end of the world if you do have it. Kiev has a lot of ‘pump rooms’, all decorated in style of antique hand pumps and can be found in most parks. You can take the purest water there without any fee.
– Tipping is recommended, but keep an eye out as some service charges are added beforehand.
– A smoking ban is in place, so keep a keen eye for where you can and can’t smoke as some bars may still have designated smoking areas.
– The stereotype that the service in bars and restaurant is terrible is true for the most part; so don’t expect to get things the moment you ask for them. Just be grateful if you get them at all, and chalk it up as a cultural experience. The same goes for queuing etc.
We’re all counting on a Liverpool victory so the main things to remember are, enjoy the momentous occasion whilst staying safe and respecting the locals. When it comes to partying, the Ukrainians can do it with the best of us, so bare that in mind and COME ON THE REDS!