I was born and raised in a small town in the South of Ukraine. One of the most favorite childhood memories I have is touring Kiev as a 14-year-old teenager with my classmates on a cold, snowy day. We were standing at St. Andrew’s descent and a feeling grew inside me that Kiev is the city where I want to live and spend my life. Today, I am proud to call Kiev my home and to share my love of the city with travelers from all over the world.
Traveling is my passion and when I am not guiding others, I travel as much as I can to get inspired and be fulfilled. I feel lucky that so far, I have been able to explore 12 countries and more than 30 cities. My goal is to discover a new city or country every 3 months – I have an ever expanding travel plan to realize.
What I love about guiding is the opportunity to meet new people from all over the world and to make new friends, new CityPals. Each new tour I guide enriches me with knowledge and perspective. It teaches me how other people think and view the world. I feel blessed to be able to show people around and make them feel happy and comfortable in my country and city.
Besides being a CityPals host and guide, I also run a small shoe brand “Miss Mukluks” which satisfies my other passion for design and fashion. A Canadian traveler that I once hosted gave me a present at the end of the tour. The present was handmade Canadian Native American boots, called Mukluks. I loved the shoes but unfortunately, it was impossible to wear them during the Ukrainian weather. So, I made some simple modification to the boots and started to sell them to the Ukrainian market.
My other hobbies include hiking in nature and reading. A hike to a nice lake or a park with a good book in hand is one of my favorite leisure activities. I like almost every type of literature but I try to stay away from women’s novels. I also enjoy going to classic art exhibitions, the opera, and to ballet shows which Kiev is famous for.
One of the most memorable experiences I had as a CityPals host was a trip outside Kiev to assist a traveling professional photographer. I liked the challenge because it wasn’t a typical tour and it required that I research and create a tour based on the traveler’s very specific requirements. It was an adventure for both of us because as he learned about the Ukraine from me, I learned about professional photography from him.
So far, one of my favorite CityPals experiences is to host a “nightlife tour” of Kiev. It includes visiting 7 lesser-known bars and watering holes in 4 hours, tasting local specialty drinks and cocktails along the way. This experience is tough (travelers could experience a good buzz by the end of the 4-hour tour), but it is great fun.
Another funny experience I had as a CityPal was when I was rushing to pick up my guest from his hotel and at the same time received a message on the CityPals app from another traveler who asked if I was available right then for a tour. I apologized and told him I was not available because I was hosting another tour at that moment. As I was guiding my travelers around the Pechersk Lavra monastery in Kiev I suddenly heard someone calling my name “Katya? Are you the CityPal that I messaged to an hour ago?” Sure enough, it was the traveler who messaged me and we decided to conduct a tour together the next day. It was a nice coincidence to find one another this way.
One of my favorite spots in Kiev is a sculpture in Kiev’s Landscape Valley. When you visit Kiev look up the name of the sculpture: “Rain”. The sculpture is so interesting and captivating that every time I pass by it, I feel the urge to take a picture of it.
Don’t tell anyone (-; but my real secret spot is 50 kilometers (31 miles) outside of Kiev in a small village called Vytachev. It is a very calm and peaceful place located on the banks of the river Dnipro. It is not popular with International travelers but locals do frequent the village and the river to enjoy its serenity and beautiful landscape.
I joined CityPals for the opportunity it provides to connect with people around the world. Travelers can meet locals with the same vibe and interests and become enduring friends beyond the tour’s conclusion. This has been my experience with many of the CityPals travelers that have booked a tour with me.
I think that travelers today are looking for different experiences. No longer will they settle for a typical tour guide who will attempt to cram historical factoids which are hard for foreigners to relate to. They are also looking for cultural experiences and human connections with locals. This is exactly what I look for when I visit a new city or a foreign country. I am very happy to be a part of the CityPals community which enables this type of connection and exchange.
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