Pritam Rohila Travels

Reports of my travels along with some pictures

Aug 4, 2013


We arrived at Simferopol airport two-hour early for our 4:20 p.m. flight. After waiting there for a long time, we discovered that the flight had been delayed. As usual passengers standing in the line did not seem to care to find out the reason or duration of delay. An American gentleman in the line went to the main terminal to gather information, while I watched his luggage. Anyhow, after three-hour delay our flight left Simferopol.

Upon our arrival, we hired a prepaid taxi at Kiev airport. It was dark by the time we traversed the 25-mile distance to our hotel, Hotel Bratislava.
For some reason, the driver parked the taxi behind the hotel, and dragged our luggage around the whole block, through the parking lot, and up the short flight of steps to the lobby.
The reception people were friendly and helpful. After check-in and dinner, we went to bed. We were looking forward to see the city sights next day.

Kiev is the capital as well as the largest city of Ukraine. It is colorful and vibrant in spite of the sheer brutality faced by its people through the various wars, revolts and revolutions that have crowded the millennial history of this one of the oldest city of Eastern Europe.

Kiev has some of the Byzantine, Soviet and Modern architectural and sculptural wonders can be found side by side. There are splendid palaces, as well as...

Mariinsky Palace

...beautiful parks and monuments.



Its avenues and streets are lined...

...with attractive buildings.

Aug 3, 2013


This morning, after unsuccessful attempt to hire an English speaking guide, the hotel staff helped us to hire a taxi driver to take us to various city sights on our list.

We passed by the elegant building of the National Opera House. Opened in 1901, it has witnessed many impressive opera performances, as well as the murder of the then prime minister during the intermission on September 14, 1911.

National Opera House
Our first destination was the Golden Gates of Kiev, a historic gateway in the 11th century city fortress. It was one of the three entrances to the walled city.  Currently it serves as a museum.

Golden Gates of Kiev
A statue of Yaroslav the Wise stands in front of the Gates. In this sculpture Yaroslav is shown holding a model of the St. Sophia Cathedral, which was built around the same time.

Yaroslav the Wise
 Next we went to the Sophia Square, so named after the Saint Sophia Cathedral which stands on one side of the square.  The major feature of the cathedral is its tall bell tower.

Saint Sophia Catheral

The Cathedral is one of the city's best known landmarks and is recognized as the World Heritage site. Its 1000th anniversary was celebrated in 2011.

St. Michael's Monastery
Then we visited St. Michael's Monastery. It has a golden dome and includes a cathedral. Demolished by the Soviets in the 1930s, it was reconstructed and opened in 1999 following Ukrainian independence.

Bohdan Khmeinytsky Monument

A monument to Bohdan Khmeinytsky stands in front of the monastery. Khmeinytsky was a leader of Ukrainian Cossacks, who announced Ukraine’s union with Russia in 1654.
 Next on our list was the blue-domed, 20th century St. Andrew Church.  According to a legend, before the settlement of Kiev, Apostle Andrew found a cross on this site, and prophesied beginning of a city here.

Then we went to Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square). Located at the city center, it is a historical square. Since Ukraine’s independence in 1991, it has been the site of student protests and hunger strikes as well as the world-famous Orange Revolution. Such events led to the resignation of a prime minister and an additional round of presidential elections.

Maidan Nezalezhnosti
The square has a glass-domed, underground shopping Mall as well as many important monuments like those to the kobza-playing national folklore hero Cossack Mamay; Kiev’s founding brothers Kyi, Schek and Horeb, and their sister Lybed; and

Kiev’s Founders
Goddess Berehynia
Slavic home-and-hearth-protecting goddess Berehynia.

Finally we headed to the River Dnieper Embankment.

River Dnieper Embankment
From there on the top of a hill, we could see the Mother Motherland monument. This monumental statue is a part of the Museum of the Great Patriotic War. It displays marble plaques with carved names of about 12,000 soldiers and others who had been honored during the war with the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union and the Hero of Socialist Labor.

Mother Motherland Monument
Like the Independence Square, the embankment also has a monument to the legendary Founders of Kiev –

brothers Kyi, Shchek and Khoryv and their sister Lybid.

Nearby is the Tree of Wishes, which is frequented by newly-married couples.

Tree of Wishes

By now we were tired. We headed back to our hotel for dinner, and prepare for our 6:25 a.m. flight to Amsterdam, on the way back home via Reykjavik and Seattle.



Aug 1, 2013


On our way back home, we took a KLM flight from Kiev to Reykjavik. The September 2012 issue  of the KLM's in-flight magazine was devoted to developments in technology. It featured some interesting innovative  items. I would like to bring some of these items to your attention.

First is a KINETIC SCULPTURE, which was created by Marco Kruyt for the GOGBOT Festival. The Festival is held every year, in Enschede, near the German border in the Netherlands. It deals with multimedia, art, music and technology. The theme for the 2012 Festival was memes - an idea , trend or online behavior, that spreads from person to person through social media.

Kinetic Sculpture
Next is a GRASSHOPPER, which was created by Edouard Martinet. Its wings are moped mud-guards, rear legs from bicycle forks, and front legs from bicycle brakes. Its other parts include bits of toys, car parts and bicycle spokes.

Another item is SILICONE LEAF PLATES designed by NAo Tamura. The plates are made from silicone. They are dishwasher-safe, oven-proof, and do not get chipped!

Silicone Leaf Plates
JOGGOBOT is a robot running companion. Programmed by the Exertion Games Lab, of RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, this quadcopter is designed to act as personal trainer, motivating & pacing the runner.  More info is available

Also featured are the WORLD’S FIRST SUNGLASSES. Developed probably around 2,000 years ago, this low tech wonder -  wooden sunglasses with a tiny slit – were originally designed by the  ancestors of today ‘s Inuit, who live on the west coast of Alaska, to protect eyes from snow blindness in the harsh summer.

World's First Sunglasses

Finally there is PLASTIC-EATING FUNGUS. Discovered by two Yale University students in Ecuador’s Amazon, this new type of fungus , can survive on a diet of common plastic, according to a study published in Applied & Environmental Biology.