Learning to Paint Over Tea in Kyiv

Spring brings a freshness to the air that is unmistakable. It’s damp, earthy and still chilly. Kyiv, like many other cold cities, comes out of slumber in spring. Trees and bushes are blossoming, flowers are blooming, and cafes and restaurants are beginning to spill onto the sidewalks with their outdoor sections. I walk for hours around Kyiv as people create the wonderful world of summertime Kyiv that enthralled me on my first visit 4 years ago.

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The Golden Gate Metro area of Kyiv has become my favorite areas in the city because it is conveniently located and offers a wide variety of experiences: the Golden Gate (the very old, very interesting old city gate), professional Thai massages at Wai Thai, wonderful Italian food at Osteria Pantagruel, a healthy boost at the Organic Cafe by GLOSSARY, a sushi restaurant, the Opera House, The Fountain (my favorite cafe), my tea guy, and Perspective where I studied painting.

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If everything could work out the way that I want, I would stay in Kyiv for a month every spring and live the same day 3 times a week. This would consist of walking up Andreyevskiy spusk around 9am, before the vendors set up their stalls, past St. Sophia Cathedral and around to the back. In the back of the Cathedral, nestled into one of the buildings is the Wat Thai. After an anti-stress 10:00-11:00 am happy hour massage (it’s nearly half price in the morning), I would make my way outside, to the left and order tea from the coffee/tea barista. (I come so frequently, he sees me and begins working on my order.) There are coffee/tea stands everywhere in the city and that is one of the things I love about Ukraine. You don’t have to run around trying to find a Starbucks or Costa Coffee. There are baristas on every street corner, and in-between, who will make you a drink in a paper cup or your own cup for less than one U.S. dollar. The previously mentioned barista is my favorite because he’s nice, the tea always tastes wonderful, and he dances to music playing on his portable stereo when he’s not working.

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I would then move on to The Fountain, a cafe literally encircling a fountain, for a hearty lunch of Borsch, pampushki (buns covered with garlic butter) and a Morshenska water with gas. The Fountain has a very basic setup with wrought iron chairs and tables, a canopy that sometimes keeps out the rain, and a bar area. While sitting and waiting for food, it’s a wonderful place to people watch as people wander around the fountain taking pictures, rushing to the Golden Gate Metro station, and going about their daily lives.

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Yulia watching over me.

At 13:00 I move over to the school, Perspective, where I have 4 hours of painting lessons with Yulia. The class varies in size, but it’s always an interesting mix of people speaking Ukrainian, Russian and English while painting and sharing tea.

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With the last part of my day, I might stroll down Andreyevski spusk looking at the paintings on display. Or, I might walk the other way towards Shevchenko park and step into the Russian art museum for a few hours before they close. There’s also the Russian Theater and Opera House for a show. Kyiv is dripping with artistic inspiration for those who wish to see it.

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EVE IS AN AVID TRAVELER WHO HAS BEEN LIVING AND WORKING OUTSIDE HER HOME COUNTRY FOR THE PAST 12 YEARS. OVER THIS TIME PERIOD ABROAD, SHE HAS LIVED FOR THREE MONTHS OR MORE IN BULGARIA, UKRAINE, CHINA, MACAO (S.A.R.), MEXICO, RUSSIA, AFGHANISTAN, AND GEORGIA. WHEN SHE IS NOT WORKING AS A TEACHER TRAINER OR TEACHER, YOU WILL FIND HER HIKING, SKIING, MAKING FRIENDS WITH THE NEIGHBORHOOD DOGS, PAINTING, WINDSURFING OR SCUBA DIVING. Read Eve’s Q & A!
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