I wanted to fly directly to Armenia from Minsk, but then I needed a transit visa just to connect in Russia – all flights to Armenia go first to Moscow and Belarus and Russia have no border formalities between their countries so I would essentially be sneaking illegally into Russia, if only for 3 hours. Instead I flew to Kiev, only one hour away. I could have taken a cozy overnight sleeper train for next to nothing, but paying 100 euros for a flight and spending the extra time in Kiev seemed worth it.
I arrived late at night and kind of hitchiked another persons taxi into town. I checked into a hostel and walked around the empty streets on a Sunday night. On Monday it was 24 degrees Celsius and I probably walked 15 km around town that day. I saw churches and churches and more churches (6 out of the 7 top sights to see in Kiev are churches!), and I think the only things recommended to me to see besides churches were parks around the churches.
Pechersk Lavra was the most interesting, an entire complex of beautiful churches, monasteries, golden topped buildings, and an intricate underground cave system full of dead saints. To enter you had to wrap yourself in a green skirt and cover your head, light your way with wax candles, and politely avoid walking into the people kissing coffins in the narrow passageways.
I ran into some strange people, and I must have been radiating some form of inviting energy to welcome their approaches because it can’t possible be that I looked like a local. The crazy pigeon lady in the park tried to talk to me, the homeless asked me for money and cigarettes, a business man asked me for directions, a guy dressed as a bear walked me across a square, and a street performer put his monkey on my head when I tried to pass him by. At least I can say it was a memorable 24 hours in Kiev.