The Secret Underground Ukrainian Restaurant

This is a super cool restaurant in Kharkov. I wish I could have gotten a lot more shots, but when a Russian owner glares at you, it’s generally a good idea to put away your camera.
The Secret Ukrainian Underground Restaurant

A View Out of the Front Door of my Kharkov Apartment

This is what I see every morning on my daunting egress from our apartment in Kharkov.
A View Out of the Front Door of my Kharkov Apartment

The Arched Globe in Kharkov

This is the little public area near the train station.
Globe Arch

The Train Station of Kharkov

The train station was across from my apartment in Kharkov.  I passed it every morning and every night on the way into the office.  It has a class old-Soviet feel and always looked great in the sunset.

Sunset at the Kharkov Train Station

The Dome in Kiev

I was asked in the Flickr comments of this picture if I get scared while carrying around an expensive camera and tripod around with me. I replied no, not really. I keep the tripod cocked on my shoulder. It’s big and metal and I think anyone knows that an assault will be repelled by the business end of that tripod. It leaves a mark.

Inside the Dome

Eastern Bloc

For some reason, the picture of this gal I put up a few days ago got 4x the hits the my usual pictures in the first 24 hours. I don’t understand why people like looking at this stuff instead of landscapes and strange buildings. So anyway, let them eat cake I say…. here is another.

(just kidding…. of course…. glad you like this series)

Eastern Bloc

The Communist Long Tail of Ukraine

I’ve now spent a long time in the Ukraine because we are building some significant software there for our upcoming and super-secret gaming destination, and I’ve made a number of observations.

Since one of my hobbies is economics, it has been very interesting for me to be immersed in a country that is emerging from communism into a form of capitalism with a pinch of kleptocracy/oligarchy chewing away at the fringes during the transition.

I took the first three pictures below from the common areas behind my apartment that I stay in while in Kharkov, Ukraine. The inside of my apartment is very nice, as is the inside of many places throughout Ukraine. The offices up at Program Ace are spotless, pristine, and very HAL-2000-like.

However, every single “common” area in the Ukraine is completely run-down and looks bombed out, forgotten, radiated, and dangerous. In my judgment, this is a vestige from the communist era, when everything was commonly owned and there was no personal property. When things are commonly owned, they almost always fall into disrepair since “altruistic cleaning and maintenance” is a concept that only is heard from the ivory towers of college professors that are inside the theoretical and elitist bubble.

The same thing happened in New York’s Central Park in the late 70’s. It was very much treated in a communist way, where a faceless bureaucracy expected their disconnected staff and an altruistic public too keep Central Park nice, clean, and well maintained. It turned into one of the dirtiest and most unsafe areas in the US. After that, Colombia University did a study and the system changed to one of privatization where people had a sense of ownership and pride in different parts of the park. Today it is one of the best public parks in the world.

Even though apartment buildings are privately owned in Kharkov, the landlords still have the oligarch mentality that there is no real need to maintain and beautify the common areas since competition is not yet in full force. Almost every elevator I entered was very old, with exposed and rusted gears, creaking chains, and a layer of dust collecting since the days of Sputnik. Every stairwell looked like the Germans had used it for target practice in 1943. Every face I saw in those stairwells was morose and untrusting. My walks home in the middle of the night after a long day of work have very little light as I pass from one cloister to another, walking from one group of dark-dressed smoking men quietly grunting to the next.
The final picture is from another stairwell, just outside the old KGB building.


The Sweatbox

The Ruins of Kharkov

The Front Door, facing the KGB

Architects of Constantinople – The Cathedral of the Dormition in Kyiv

This is Cathedral of the Dormition at the Pechersk Lavra in Kiev. It was cold and my tripod was like holding on to liquid nitrogen.

The cathedral was built by a group of Antonite monks from Constantinople on top of a complex network of caves under the Berestov Mount overlooking the Dneiper river.

The second photograph is of the backside in different light much later in the day.

The Palace

Golden Onions

Hot Chocolate at the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra

In the last few moments of twilight in the middle of winter, we left the Lavra (distant right) to go into this little restaurant to have some hot chocolate. We sat up in that little round area at the top and they brought us a tiny mug full of super-thick chocolate. It was barely even a liquid, but it was burning hot. You could tell that if you let it fully cool, it would actually turn back into a solid.

Hot chocolate at the Kievo-Pecherskaya Larva

The Dilapidated Fortress

This very unusual and moody old fortress, the Golden Gate, sits obscurely in the middle of old Kiev. It is unlike anything I have ever seen, and I still don’t know what to think of it. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t well-formed… it was just… kinda… there. But picture-worthy? Sure!

The Dilapidated Fortress

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