Continuing in the same vein as my story of living in China posts, albeit over a much shorter time frame. I welcome you all to ‘Two Weeks in Ukraine’. In May of 2016 Natasha and I travelled to Ukraine to visit her mother. Whilst there we took advantage of the situation and travelled around the country.
Our first stop was Natasha’s home in Khrystynivka. A small, close knit village with quaint houses and a farm or vegetable patch in every garden. The residents were friendly and often interested to meet a foreigner for the first time. Respectful in their actions and excitedly asking questions. Luckily for me, in accordance with Ukrainian traditions, I was offered food and alcohol often. We stayed in Natasha’s childhood home, with a full complement of vegetables and fruit right there in the garden. After spending such a long time in a big busy city. The streets of Khrystynivka were a pleasant rest with a familiar homely feel, often reminding me of my time spent in Wales. The fresh air was a literal breath of fresh air, something I cannot overstate the importance of.
We left Khrystynivka to travel around Ukraine, a series of locations we had pre planned and booked. However we returned before the end of our journey. It was a perfect place to rest before a lot of long bus and train journeys, as well as the perfect place to leave the majority of our luggage. The welcome I received there was unparalleled and is one of the many locations I can’t wait to visit again in the future.
Lviv’s official travel website carries the phrase ‘Open to the World’ and thank Ukraine it is. Lviv is a beautiful city, its name holds the meaning ‘The City of the Lion’. Lined with cobbled streets as you would expect from various British towns. I experienced a light rain when I arrived, sat under a canopy eating the most delicious burger and drinking a coffee. The feeling was something which I can’t really put into words. The closest thing I can relate it to is pleasant.
We didn’t get to spend too much time there but we were able to climb the government building and view the entire city from up there. If you happen to travel there, it’s a must visit. As important on a Lviv tour list as the following.
You descend into a dark tunnel, the light fading behind you. You reach an immense wooden door, barring your progression. A panel slowly slides open, revealing a stern man who asks for a password. An intense feeling overcomes you as you realise the seriousness of the situation. Slava Ukrayini (Glory to Ukraine). You tell him. Suspiciously he asks you whether there are any communists in your group. You assure him that there isn’t. Only then will he open the door.
I will leave the rest for you to experience. Click here to continue this journey. However I will give just one piece advice. If you go to the bathroom there, be careful.
The Carpathian Mountains are a beautiful range, situated in the West of Ukraine. We spent our time there in a recently built compound, full of log cabins and some few activities. We intended on staying in a bungalow but there was an issue with the television, so they offered us a large room in their ‘apartment’ section. When I lie at night on my rough mattress I dream of a time when I visited the Carpathian Mountains and stayed in the comfiest bed in the world. Suffice to say, the accommodation was excellent.
Being a fairly new resort, they were still building several rooms and planned on expanding their list of activities. At the time we visited they had a long zip line, zorbing, horse riding, a small boat, fishing rods and an arrangement with local excursions into the mountains via jeep. I recall they also mentioned adding archery in the near future.
We didn’t really have time to try the zipline but we went on an excursion. Often the jeep would stop and allow us to climb various rock faces and get an impressive view of the mountain range from surprisingly high up.
One thing we did frequently try is the restaurant there. Being a significant distance from anything resembling a shop, residents have the option of either bringing their own food or eating breakfast, lunch and dinner there. I think my only complaint about the resort other than the lack of a shop, is the food was good. Just good, not amazing.
I’m sure those of you who have been on holiday will understand the sheer luxury of standing on a balcony with an incredible view to wake you up. I remember fondly sitting on the balconies hammock, reading comics on my iPad watching the two resident swans slowly glide along the water below. It’s an experience I will not soon forget.
Should everything in my future go to plan, we will return there (perhaps with some certain other Fusion member) in the winter of 2017. It’s a perfect location to ski, I hear.
Returning to Khrystynivka
Nearing the end of our journey we returned to Khrystynivka. A peaceful few days spent in Natasha’s home-made for a perfect end to the frequent traveling we endured to explore the country. Sadly it came to an end as things often do. We were just as soon catching the bus back to Kyiv. Which is home to the airport we arrived in.
Kyiv, as in the home of Chicken Kyiv, is the capital of Ukraine. To my dismay it was the place where we spent the least amount of time. Only being able to spend one day there, one day in which we met three of Natasha’s friends. Unfortunately I have little to say about Kyiv. We strolled through a beautiful park, we tried some delicious buffet food and we visited the apartment of an avid musician who invited us to play a song or two. Returning to Kyiv to truly explore all that which the city has to offer is on my to do list.
After thoughts on Ukraine
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Ukraine and it will be a location I visit frequently. Those of you who are planning a holiday, I insist that you consider visiting Ukraine. If not now then perhaps next year. The cost is low, hotels are cheap, food is cheap yet everything is of an acceptable standard or higher. There are countless things to see, I for one still haven’t visited certain popular locations such as Odessa by the Black Sea.
So I leave you with a suggestion for a future holiday and hopefully some new knowledge on a country not often talked of. In the comments below let me know if you have been to Ukraine or where you would suggest visiting for a holiday
As always, see you next time.