Ukraine, here I go

Kiev Pechersky LavryThis will be the last blog post before I board my airplane later today and spend around 9 hours crossing Atlantic Ocean and Western Europe. For the next several weeks, my home will become Ukraine, the country of football fans and nuclear power plants. ;-)

I have been getting ready for the trip over the past several days. One of the things I had to do was call my bank notifying them I will be on the go. I had no problem with Citibank, however the rep at my credit union said they restrict the use of Visa card in Eastern Europe. The reason — too much credit card scam. At this point the lady went into details explaining how dangerous it can be to travel over there and advised me to be very careful. I didn’t tell her that I was born in the country. My wife joked that if I did they would close my account. ;-)

While in Ukraine, I will not have a readily available access to the Internet and so my blogging frequency will go down. I will however be able to write once in a while and I hope to add some local flavor to my posts. Let me know in the comments if there is anything in particular that you want me to write about.

Kiev-Pechersk Lavra photo courtesy of Cor Lems at Flickr

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19 Responses to “Ukraine, here I go”

  1. 1 Deborah Jun 13th, 2007 at 7:52 am

    I am such a fan of your websites. Enjoy your journey.

    Since I have Ukrainian roots, I’d like to visit someday. Perhaps you can talk about money-saving strategies for travel in your native country.

    Please let us know what cities and towns you visit in Ukraine. Perhaps you can give us some sense of the cost of living–average rent, wages, the cost of eggs and milk, etc. Just curious.

    By the way, are there any bargains in Ukraine? What “souvenirs” will you be bringing back to the US?

  2. 2 Neal Rapoport Jun 13th, 2007 at 8:45 am

    Have a fun trip!

  3. 3 Yan Jun 13th, 2007 at 8:52 am

    Thanks Deborah and Neal!

    It is a good idea to write about what costs what in Ukraine compared to the US. I will sure have a post about it. Bargains in Ukraine? When I was a child, people in Ukraine could barely buy any food. ;-)

    Just kidding. Ukraine went a long way since then and I am sure they adopted some of the western marketing tricks. I will have to find that out.

  4. 4 Alex Jun 13th, 2007 at 10:09 am

    Have a shot of “Nemiroff”. Good gorilka but I can’t find it here. :)

  5. 5 Yan Jun 13th, 2007 at 11:53 am

    You won’t believe, I was just looking at it last night in the local Benny’s Beverage choosing what to bring for my in-laws. At the end I decided that bringing vodka to Ukraine will be a waste. They have better variety at much lower price over there.

  6. 6 Alex Jun 13th, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    You can bring whisky in a jar… I found in one of the local stores corn whisky in a clear glass jar… looks like some artifact back from the prohibition era… I bet it’s pretty nasty though ;)

  7. 7 Dean Jun 13th, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    Enjoy your trip, sounds like a very interesting place to visit. I wonder how much you can get for your dollar in the Ukraine.

  8. 8 Slav Jun 13th, 2007 at 10:22 pm

    Hey Yan,
    I wish you a good time in Ukraine, which is also my home land. The currency is on your side, for every 1 USD dollar you bring to Ukraine, you get 26 Rubles (”Rubley” in Russian).
    Watch out since more than half the population now speaks Ukrainian. So you’ll need to polish your “Ukrainsky”.
    Best wishes, Slav. Avid reader and supporter of

  9. 9 mike g. Jun 13th, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    Have a great trip Yan! I would think the almighty dollar stretches pretty far in the Ukraine. Can’t wait to see some pictures.

  10. 10 Louis Jun 14th, 2007 at 1:41 am

    I’m interested in visiting the Ukraine and will be traveling there in the next year. I’m retired and would like to spend two weeks to two months in the Ukraine. I have friends in Lutske and Kiev but also plan to travel to other cities.

    I would appreciate hearing about your experiences, and thoughts about the cultural and economic differences between the Ukraine and the United States.

    I’m also curious about what Ukrainians feel about Putin. I once thought highly of him (particularly his cool demeanor and lack of intimidation when he first met Yeltsin) but the murder of about eleven reporters and prominent Russians, refusal of Putin to extradite a suspect in the radioactive poisoning of an ex-KGB agent in Great Britain, and reversal of Democracy in Russia is confusing and sad. Finally, is the corruption due to the Russian mafia still dragging Russia down or is Russia applying the Russian legal equivalence of America’s RICO Act to eradicate the Russian mafia?

    This will be my first trip abroad and would appreciate any advice you can give me that will save me any surprises. Ideally I would like to take a few hundred dollars cash and withdraw money as I need it. Is it true that I should avoid withdrawing cash from ATM’s because of fraudulence and, instead, only use my VISA card at banks. In particular, will I have trouble using my credit card in Lutske and Kiev. Would you recommend that I convert dollars to Ukrainian currency while still in the U.S. or wait until I arrive in the Ukraine. Since I will land in Poland and take a bus to Luske, do you recommend I convert dollars to Polish currency or Euros. Also, are Euros commonly used in the Ukraine and do you recommend I use them in the Ukraine.

    I would like to spend several weeks in the Ukraine but hotel room prices on the internet are high. Can you recommend any alternatives such as Bed and Breakfast networks, reputable hotels in major cites with reasonable prices and reputable travel books and internet sites specializing on travel in the Ukraine. Thanks in advance for your response.

  11. 11 XynamaX Jun 14th, 2007 at 10:10 am

    The euro is a much more desirable currency then the dollar is right now…


  12. 12 Dorky Dad Jun 14th, 2007 at 11:19 am

    Safe travels, Yan. I’m anxious to hear about your bargain finds in Ukraine!

  13. 13 Scott Jun 14th, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Hope you have a great time Yan!

  14. 14 Sarah Jun 14th, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    Have fun in Ukraine! I will be traveling to Kyiv for the first time in mid-July to do research. I’ll be sure to check in with your blog periodically.

    In fact, I am blogging about my research at if you are interested!

  15. 15 Alex Jun 15th, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    Louis, you are funny…

  16. 16 philip Aug 4th, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    If you make some good contacts of people who live there let me know. It would be great to know someone before i go there. Waiting to hear about the bargains – hehehe.

  17. 17 Yan Aug 4th, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Philip, what kind of contacts are you looking for? I mostly met relatives and friends in Ukraine but they all are interesting people and some even speak decent English.

    As for bargains, you will have to check my entire Ukraine series because Ukraine is full of bargains. ;-)

  18. 18 philip Aug 4th, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    I am working in Egypt right now and wanted to go and visit Ukraine on my vacation before the winter settles in the country. See the people, country side, all that is there to see not as a tourist. Want to hang out with someone there who could show me around a little. I hate to go somewhere and don’t know anyone and wonder at different places by myself. Would like to rent an apartment for a week or two. I am in my 30’s male from Texas and it does not matter whether the other person is male or female.
    A little bit of english is ok since here in egypt it is the same they hardly speak english.

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