December 13, 2017

Travel

Traveling to Other Parts of Ukraine
It’s a great idea to see some other places in Ukraine if you can, like Crimea on the Black Sea shown here. Most Ukrainians travel by train or bus. The train to Crimea takes about 12 hours. Buses are best for shorter distances. Trains have sleeping cars but the sometimes rustic conditions—especially the bathrooms—usually shock Western visitors. Besides buying your ticket, if you are in a sleeper car, you are also required to pay for sheet rental. There are different classes of sleeper cars. Some are large open areas and the higher class is four-beds per compartment. Some cities are beginning to be serviced by express trains which take about half the time and are much more modern. Buy tickets early for any summer travel. A passport is normally required to buy train tickets. All trains leave from the central train station, Vokzal. Other popular destinations are Lviv (Lvov in Russian), which is a Unesco World Heritage Site and shown here,and Odesa (Odessa in Russian) on the Black Sea. Many Ukrainians simply take a night train to these cities one evening, spend a day walking and touring the city, and then return to Kyiv on a train the next evening. A true "day trip" for the hard core traveller.

In the early 2000s, domestic airlines started discounting plane tickets, making flying a better option than trains for long distance trips. If you are planning a Crimea or Donetsk trip, consider flying. A round-trip ticket could be under $100.

Traveling to Europe
A nice break from post-Soviet life is a trip to Europe. The most popular weekend trips are to Budapest (shown here), Prague, or Krakow, Poland. Trains take 28-32 hours since the train underpinnings have to be changed at the border. By plane, the trip is less than 2 hours. Round-trip tickets in the off season are about $200. Though Eastern European nations do not require a visa for US citizens to enter, Ukraine does require an exit and re-entry visa. If you are traveling to Europe from Ukraine, make sure you have at least a Ukrainian double-entry visa so you can re-enter Ukraine.

Moscow is about 18 hours away by train (St. Petersburg, 20 hours) and less than $40, but a Russian visa is required; they are about $120 and can be applied for in the USA or in Ukraine. To visit Russia, an official organization must provide a letter of invitation and you must register with government authorities once you arrive. These bureaucratic necessities can be taken care of quite easily if you rmake reservations with a hostel or hotel in Russia. Most (all international hostels) will then send you a letter of invitation and register your visa upon arrival. Travel agencies in Kyiv or America can also make these arrangements for a hefty fee of several hundred dollars. A good website to check out is www.waytorussia.net

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