After years of writing blogs about visits to interesting corners of Ukraine, I sometimes worry I do not write enough about the qualities of Kyiv. A city of three and a half million, Kyiv has a vibrant arts and cultural scene; a dramatic city centre landscape full of hills, parks and beaches; and more museums and monuments than any would-be tourist could ask for.
But all this pales into insignificance next to the Kyiv way of life. The inhabitants of the city are experts in the art of enjoying the outdoors, whether sitting in the numerous beer-gardens or open-air restaurants, strolling down the main street of Khreshatik (pedestrianised at weekends and for the whole of Euro 2012) or mucking about in or on the river. In the winter the parks are alive with sledges and skiers.
All this adds up to what is potentially a great tourist experience. It’s also a terrific place to live, as the many Brits who live here will testify – even if, as in any other major city, there are some rough edges. I hope that the enthusiastic band of England fans who come here either in transit to Donetsk, for the England-Sweden match in Kyiv on 15 June or (if England do well) for either the quarter-final on 24 June or the final on 1 July will find time to check out one of the secret splendours of Europe.