Russian, Ukrainian & FSU Information & Discussion Forums

Dating & Marriage With Women From Russia, Ukraine, Belarus & FSU => Dating in the FSU => Topic started by: Astrophysics on December 25, 2010, 10:13:00 PM

Title: Should I visit Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: Astrophysics on December 25, 2010, 10:13:00 PM
So me and my cousin want to visit one of these countries during the Summer of 2011, but we're still deciding which one. We could appreciate the help! We have never travelled across the sea and Western Europe and even Latin America doesn't appeal to us right now. Obviously we're not filthy stinking rich, but then again we're not counting pennies, so we'd like the most out of our dollar here. It's about $1000 for a round-trip ticket (from San Francisco) for 2 weeks (do you think we should stay longer?).

We really want to see something totally different from our American (and some Latin) culture, so far we're leaning towards Ukraine, but we're open to the idea of Russia. I had a local, a friend who lived in Kiev but he moved to Thailand because it's "cheaper" and Ukraine is getting "busy and expensive." I'd be happy with any place, but with Russia, I'd love to go see Star City and visit the Laika monument. One of my friends who lives in Miami told me if I go to Ukraine though, I'll probably get married and never want to come back.

A little bit about us; I'm 25 a student and freelance photographer, and she's 29 a receptionist. We're both born and raised in the US. We're also both Latin, except she's half Russian.

So if you were in our shoes, where would you go first?

Thanks in advance!
Title: Re: Ukraine vs. Russia
Post by: Paul on December 25, 2010, 10:25:22 PM
It's about $1000 for a round-trip ticket (from San Francisco) for 2 weeks (do you think we should stay longer?).

I've never been to Russia or Romania in the summer from New York for under 1,300. Two weeks should be long enough. If you and your friend go to Russia, you will both need to get visas.

Title: Re: Ukraine vs. Russia
Post by: dbneeley on December 26, 2010, 12:29:40 AM
Round trip Kyiv to Dallas this Summer was just at a thousand bucks--but I bought in April about a week before prices went up two or three hundred. Thus, the key whenever you plan to go is to buy the tickets early.

You will hear much debate on this forum between people recommending one or the other country. Usually, it's by guys who have either married or at least have traveled mostly to one or the other. In my case, I live in Donetsk, Ukraine--about an hour's drive to the Russian border.

Much depends upon what you want to do over here.What are your interests? Without knowing that, it is difficult to suggest one over the other. Still, there are some significant practical differences. For example, to see more than one area it is obviously far less challenging in Ukraine if for no better reason than it is a much smaller place.

Personally, I wouldn't rule out some of the other FSU countries--such as the Baltic ones. (We have a couple members who live full or part time in Estonia, for instance).

You can easily spend a couple very interesting weeks in either country. The large cities alone can take two weeks just to see the major sights (Moscow would probably take even longer to do it justice, as might St. Petersburg. Kyiv could be fairly well explored in that time, perhaps with a side trip or two to other areas).

One possible itinerary for Ukraine might be to start in Kyiv--and the first day or two you are there to purchase rail tickets to another area--perhaps the Crimea--for five or six days later. Travel between major points in the country by overnight train is extremely popular here and is pretty cheap as well...but during the most popular times it can be a challenge to get tickets in the better trains at the last minute. You and your cousin could get tickets in one of the compartments with either two or four beds. Many Americans try to buy all four tickets so they will have a compartment to their own, but I have never found this particularly necessary. There are some routes, too, with much newer equipment for an additional charge. Those have nicer beds and infinitely nicer bathrooms.

The advantage of overnight trains is that going and coming you would not need to be paying for a hotel or apartment for those two nights.

If your prior travel has been limited, I strongly suggest you adopt the one bag approach--taking only a bag you can carry on the plane with you. (Most airlines will also allow you to take a "personal item" which usually includes a laptop bag in addition to a full carry-on). Personally, I prefer a convertible bag with decent backpack straps that stow away when you use it with a shoulder strap. That makes carrying the bag far easier. I traveled with this combination back to the States this past summer for six weeks--so a couple weeks with only a carry-on should be a cakewalk. A primary website that discusses the subject in great detail is www.onebag.com. You will be far happier not having to wrestle a large suitcase or wait in baggage lines, believe me. Also, taking buses or other mass transit is far simpler with a single carry-on bag.

So--let us know what interests you two the most and perhaps we can give you better suggestions about where to go.

David
Title: Re: Ukraine vs. Russia
Post by: Voyager on December 26, 2010, 01:00:54 AM

So if you were in our shoes, where would you go first?

Thanks in advance!

You may find Ukraine to be more open to foreigners, especially Americans.
Title: Каждый кулик своё болото хвалит
Post by: Stirlitz on December 26, 2010, 01:39:59 AM
It is true that the crow thinks its own bird fairest yet I believe Ukraine is more welcoming to foreigners. You do not need a visa to start with.
Title: Re: Каждый кулик своё болото хвалит
Post by: dbneeley on December 26, 2010, 02:24:24 AM
It is true that the crow thinks its own bird fairest yet I believe Ukraine is more welcoming to foreigners. You do not need a visa to start with.

With the OP being Latino, too, I would be somewhat concerned about the current racial unrest in Russia--where Russian skinheads have been rather brutally attacking many with darker skins of late. While this may not be directed to foreign tourists, it would be difficult to console onesself to that fact if caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

David
Title: Re: Ukraine vs. Russia
Post by: Eduard on December 26, 2010, 08:37:33 AM
Since you are not going "women hunting", then you probably you just want to see as many sights, architecture and museums as possible. There are pros and cons to both countries. The biggest plus about Ukraine is that there is no visa requirement and you don't need to register in the cities you visit for more than 48 hours. I would recommend visiting Kiev, Odessa and Crimea. Odessa has lots of pretty, historic buildings and monuments. It has a beautiful Opera Theater and a lot more. It has always been a very international port city on Black Sea. Kiev has more of the "Stalin era" architectured buildings in the center and also historic monuments, churches, monasteries and museums. Crimea has beautiful nature - mountains that meet the Black Sea. Some truly gorgeous scenery. Much of it is not well maintained though, garbage really detracts from the beauty of it all, infrastructure is so-so, food is so-so and can cause misery if you eat at the wrong place... Beaches are not sand, they are covered with pebbles that are pretty hard to walk on, plus you have to step over people's bodies to get to the water since they are usually very overcrowded. Everything is pretty expensive (you even have to pay for beach access) and is overpriced  considering what you get for your money.

Now Russia: yes you do need a tourist visa which will cost you under $200 and is pretty easy to get after you fill out a 2 page application and send it, along with your passport to Russian consulate. Takes about a month to get it back so you need to plan accordingly. They do have expedited service for more money. Russia is a huge country. 11 time zones geographically speaking (although last spring they cut it down to 9 to make things more manageable). Compare to only 3 time zones in the USA! Moscow and St. Petersburg are a must see! Moscow is  a very unique city, like no other city in the world. It's also huge and you can literally spend several months there and still not see everything. Lots of architectural, historical monuments from different times and epochs,  world renowned art museums and plenty of what a large city can offer (think NYC on steroids).
St.Petersburg ("The Venice of the North") is another "must see" in Russia. It is simply unbelievable! Again, Russia is huge and there is so much to see, you can spend a lifetime travelling it. Prices are also pretty high but at least sometimes you get your money's worth here.

Title: Re: Ukraine vs. Russia
Post by: Brasscasing on December 26, 2010, 09:08:31 AM
Quote from: Ed
Compare to only 3 time zones in the USA!

Just to clarify for our members and guests tuning in from elsewhere around the globe - There are four time zones in the continental USA - Pacific, Mountain, Central and Eastern. :)

Brass
Title: Re: Каждый кулик своё болото хвалит
Post by: shakespear on December 26, 2010, 09:17:04 AM
You do not need a visa to start with. 

That is basically the only real advantage. 

From a cultural standpoint, it's hard for Ukraine to compete against Russia.  Kiev is a beautiful city however St Petersburg during the "white night" period of mid June is hard to beat.  Moscow is clearly the cultural center of the entire FSU.

The women are equally beautiful in both locations.  There is an active social life in all three cities mentioned. 

Who knows if you will ever return?  Why not plan to make 3-5 day stops in all three cities (Kiev, Moscow St Petersburg).  That would be an absolutely FANTASTIC trip!
Title: Re: Ukraine vs. Russia
Post by: Donhollio on December 26, 2010, 10:32:37 AM
  Having been to both countries I will say the Ukraine wins for ease of travel. Russia has lots of history, however you need to have some Russian to get by as a tourist in both countries. Basically they have yet to grasp how a cater to a tourist. English as a international language isn't found in museums or historical sites.  The Rooskees like to keep tabs on your movement, while in UA you get a stamp in your passport and off you go with full freedom to travel.
 Summer in Odessa is nice, its a toursit city so there is always something to do, beaches that I have visited are full of fine soft sand, and yes you'll pay to get on them, but its not much, and some will have girls serving you beer, and other foods, it all makes for a nice day, beers and topless girls.  :nod:
 The Crimea is also very nice as Ed mentioned, and spending 4-5 days on these places will be just one way to see a small portion of the country.
 Let's not forget in Russia you have to register your visa within 3 business days. This useless process can take up to 3 hours. So if you move from city to city, you are suppose to de-register, than re-register in the following city.... rinse and repeat.  :drunk:
 You can read the about my fun with it in my TR, Donhollio's FSU Pursuit!!!   :innocent:
 
Page 18   reply #266  and page 26 reply #388

 The linking doesn't seem to be working. :coffeeread:
Title: Re: Ukraine vs. Russia
Post by: dbneeley on December 26, 2010, 11:52:52 AM
By the way, the comment was made that beaches in Crimea are not sand but rock. That is true for the most part, but there are actually sand beaches up around Evpatoria. Were I to go to Crimea, I might spend a little time looking around at some of the other places but any serious beach time I'd head up Evpatoria way.
Title: Re: Каждый кулик своё болото хвалит
Post by: dbneeley on December 26, 2010, 01:05:40 PM
You do not need a visa to start with. 

That is basically the only real advantage. 

From a cultural standpoint, it's hard for Ukraine to compete against Russia.  Kiev is a beautiful city however St Petersburg during the "white night" period of mid June is hard to beat.  Moscow is clearly the cultural center of the entire FSU.

The women are equally beautiful in both locations.  There is an active social life in all three cities mentioned. 

Who knows if you will ever return?  Why not plan to make 3-5 day stops in all three cities (Kiev, Moscow St Petersburg).  That would be an absolutely FANTASTIC trip!

Sorry, but I think anyone with any curiosity at all would be mostly frustrated only visiting any of the three for such a short period. If going to Russia, I'd pick either Moscow or St. Pete and go there for most of the entire two week period...it would be simple to stay busy in either place for that long.

For example I am hoping to get to St. Pete in another year or so--and I intend to spend a few days just seeing the Hermitage alone.

However, if they go during White Nights, they need to be making reservations as soon as possible--as you know, the city is likely to be extremely crowded and decent lodging will be hard to find if they wait very long.

David
Title: Re: Ukraine vs. Russia
Post by: Paul on December 26, 2010, 02:05:34 PM
Uff, there is always Romania... no visa requirement, Black Sea beaches with plenty of sand, castles, fortresses, the Danube delta, countless other UNESCO world heritage sites, Transylvania, blah, blah, blah... oh and, better food than either Russia or Ukraine (in my personal opinion). If you absolutely need to see Slavic people and read Cyrillic, you can do that in much of the N/E area of the country.

Title: Re: Ukraine vs. Russia
Post by: shakespear on December 26, 2010, 02:15:11 PM
Let's not forget in Russia you have to register your visa within 3 business days. This useless process can take up to 3 hours. So if you move from city to city, you are suppose to de-register, than re-register in the following city.... rinse and repeat.  :drunk: 

While it's true you are supposed to register your visa within three WORKING days after your arrival in Russia; in over 25 trips to Russia, I've NEVER registered in each city I've visited.  I've always registered the visa one time, upon arrival for the entire duration of my stay, regardless of how many cities I've planned to visit. 

Black Sea beaches will disappoint anyone who has been to Florida, the Caribbean, or Hawaii.  If you are travelling to Ukraine or Russia (Sochi) to enjoy the beaches, you're going for the wrong reason. 
Title: Re: Ukraine vs. Russia
Post by: Donhollio on December 26, 2010, 03:02:15 PM


Black Sea beaches will disappoint anyone who has been to Florida, the Caribbean, or Hawaii.  If you are travelling to Ukraine or Russia (Sochi) to enjoy the beaches, you're going for the wrong reason.

 I'd have to disagree slightly there Shakey. I have been to beaches in Florida, and a couple of Caribbean countries beaches as well, never been to Hawaii. In Zakota ( near Odessa) I saw an endless beach of fine sand that rivals the beach in Varadaro or Cancun.
Title: Re: Ukraine vs. Russia
Post by: mendeleyev on December 26, 2010, 05:27:16 PM
Echoing others, I'd begin with Moscow and St Petersburg with a side trip to Kyiv. As David and SS say, there is so much in either Moscow or St P that you could stay for months and not see everything.

If this is a first of many planned trips then I'd start in Moscow and spend all 2-3 weeks soaking it up (you will barely scratch the surface) and use that knowledge to build on the other cities in followup trips. Kyiv was the first place I visited when the FSU was still the CCCP and one cannot ignore it's beauty or historic importance either. Whereever ever you decide to visit try not to make the visa regime the sole determining factor of a decision.
Title: Re: Ukraine vs. Russia
Post by: Astrophysics on December 26, 2010, 08:51:10 PM
Round trip Kyiv to Dallas this Summer was just at a thousand bucks--but I bought in April about a week before prices went up two or three hundred. Thus, the key whenever you plan to go is to buy the tickets early.

You will hear much debate on this forum between people recommending one or the other country. Usually, it's by guys who have either married or at least have traveled mostly to one or the other. In my case, I live in Donetsk, Ukraine--about an hour's drive to the Russian border.

Much depends upon what you want to do over here.What are your interests? Without knowing that, it is difficult to suggest one over the other. Still, there are some significant practical differences. For example, to see more than one area it is obviously far less challenging in Ukraine if for no better reason than it is a much smaller place.

Personally, I wouldn't rule out some of the other FSU countries--such as the Baltic ones. (We have a couple members who live full or part time in Estonia, for instance).

You can easily spend a couple very interesting weeks in either country. The large cities alone can take two weeks just to see the major sights (Moscow would probably take even longer to do it justice, as might St. Petersburg. Kyiv could be fairly well explored in that time, perhaps with a side trip or two to other areas).

One possible itinerary for Ukraine might be to start in Kyiv--and the first day or two you are there to purchase rail tickets to another area--perhaps the Crimea--for five or six days later. Travel between major points in the country by overnight train is extremely popular here and is pretty cheap as well...but during the most popular times it can be a challenge to get tickets in the better trains at the last minute. You and your cousin could get tickets in one of the compartments with either two or four beds. Many Americans try to buy all four tickets so they will have a compartment to their own, but I have never found this particularly necessary. There are some routes, too, with much newer equipment for an additional charge. Those have nicer beds and infinitely nicer bathrooms.

The advantage of overnight trains is that going and coming you would not need to be paying for a hotel or apartment for those two nights.

If your prior travel has been limited, I strongly suggest you adopt the one bag approach--taking only a bag you can carry on the plane with you. (Most airlines will also allow you to take a "personal item" which usually includes a laptop bag in addition to a full carry-on). Personally, I prefer a convertible bag with decent backpack straps that stow away when you use it with a shoulder strap. That makes carrying the bag far easier. I traveled with this combination back to the States this past summer for six weeks--so a couple weeks with only a carry-on should be a cakewalk. A primary website that discusses the subject in great detail is www.onebag.com. You will be far happier not having to wrestle a large suitcase or wait in baggage lines, believe me. Also, taking buses or other mass transit is far simpler with a single carry-on bag.

So--let us know what interests you two the most and perhaps we can give you better suggestions about where to go.

David
Well, I'm sort of an explorer at heart and going for the sake of going will satisfy me. My interests are mainly in the creative arts and especially food. I don't mind checking out the nightlife, as I think my cousin will be heavily into that. Science, especially anything relate with space and astronomy gets me going; one reason why I'd choose Russia over Ukraine; Star City.

I appreciate the input, and thanks for the idea. We'll try to adopt that one bag approach, it makes sense.


P.S. I heard there's no toilet paper in Ukraine's restrooms... and also that have to squat to crap? :) Is there a thread that shows the American and Ukrainian/Russian cultural differences that we need to know?



So if you were in our shoes, where would you go first?

Thanks in advance!

You may find Ukraine to be more open to foreigners, especially Americans.
This is why we're leaning towards Ukraine! :)

It is true that the crow thinks its own bird fairest yet I believe Ukraine is more welcoming to foreigners. You do not need a visa to start with.

With the OP being Latino, too, I would be somewhat concerned about the current racial unrest in Russia--where Russian skinheads have been rather brutally attacking many with darker skins of late. While this may not be directed to foreign tourists, it would be difficult to console onesself to that fact if caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

David
I'm Latino, but not dark skinned. :P I've been told I look "Russian" ha-ha.


Since you are not going "women hunting", then you probably you just want to see as many sights, architecture and museums as possible. There are pros and cons to both countries. The biggest plus about Ukraine is that there is no visa requirement and you don't need to register in the cities you visit for more than 48 hours. I would recommend visiting Kiev, Odessa and Crimea. Odessa has lots of pretty, historic buildings and monuments. It has a beautiful Opera Theater and a lot more. It has always been a very international port city on Black Sea. Kiev has more of the "Stalin era" architectured buildings in the center and also historic monuments, churches, monasteries and museums. Crimea has beautiful nature - mountains that meet the Black Sea. Some truly gorgeous scenery. Much of it is not well maintained though, garbage really detracts from the beauty of it all, infrastructure is so-so, food is so-so and can cause misery if you eat at the wrong place... Beaches are not sand, they are covered with pebbles that are pretty hard to walk on, plus you have to step over people's bodies to get to the water since they are usually very overcrowded. Everything is pretty expensive (you even have to pay for beach access) and is overpriced  considering what you get for your money.

Now Russia: yes you do need a tourist visa which will cost you under $200 and is pretty easy to get after you fill out a 2 page application and send it, along with your passport to Russian consulate. Takes about a month to get it back so you need to plan accordingly. They do have expedited service for more money. Russia is a huge country. 11 time zones geographically speaking (although last spring they cut it down to 9 to make things more manageable). Compare to only 3 time zones in the USA! Moscow and St. Petersburg are a must see! Moscow is  a very unique city, like no other city in the world. It's also huge and you can literally spend several months there and still not see everything. Lots of architectural, historical monuments from different times and epochs,  world renowned art museums and plenty of what a large city can offer (think NYC on steroids).
St.Petersburg ("The Venice of the North") is another "must see" in Russia. It is simply unbelievable! Again, Russia is huge and there is so much to see, you can spend a lifetime travelling it. Prices are also pretty high but at least sometimes you get your money's worth here.
Wow. This makes me want to go to Russia, but it's expensive I know!


You do not need a visa to start with. 

That is basically the only real advantage. 

From a cultural standpoint, it's hard for Ukraine to compete against Russia.  Kiev is a beautiful city however St Petersburg during the "white night" period of mid June is hard to beat.  Moscow is clearly the cultural center of the entire FSU.

The women are equally beautiful in both locations.  There is an active social life in all three cities mentioned. 

Who knows if you will ever return?  Why not plan to make 3-5 day stops in all three cities (Kiev, Moscow St Petersburg).  That would be an absolutely FANTASTIC trip!
Hahaha, that's what my friend said. He said if I ever go to Ukraine I'll probably get married and never want to come back because they're so many beautiful women there.

I would do that idea, but I wonder how much that will all cost...


  Having been to both countries I will say the Ukraine wins for ease of travel. Russia has lots of history, however you need to have some Russian to get by as a tourist in both countries. Basically they have yet to grasp how a cater to a tourist. English as a international language isn't found in museums or historical sites.  The Rooskees like to keep tabs on your movement, while in UA you get a stamp in your passport and off you go with full freedom to travel.
 Summer in Odessa is nice, its a toursit city so there is always something to do, beaches that I have visited are full of fine soft sand, and yes you'll pay to get on them, but its not much, and some will have girls serving you beer, and other foods, it all makes for a nice day, beers and topless girls.  :nod:
 The Crimea is also very nice as Ed mentioned, and spending 4-5 days on these places will be just one way to see a small portion of the country.
 Let's not forget in Russia you have to register your visa within 3 business days. This useless process can take up to 3 hours. So if you move from city to city, you are suppose to de-register, than re-register in the following city.... rinse and repeat.  :drunk:
 You can read the about my fun with it in my TR, Donhollio's FSU Pursuit!!!   :innocent:
 
Page 18   reply #266  and page 26 reply #388

 The linking doesn't seem to be working. :coffeeread:
Rooskees huh?


Uff, there is always Romania... no visa requirement, Black Sea beaches with plenty of sand, castles, fortresses, the Danube delta, countless other UNESCO world heritage sites, Transylvania, blah, blah, blah... oh and, better food than either Russia or Ukraine (in my personal opinion). If you absolutely need to see Slavic people and read Cyrillic, you can do that in much of the N/E area of the country.

I will look more into it...


Echoing others, I'd begin with Moscow and St Petersburg with a side trip to Kyiv. As David and SS say, there is so much in either Moscow or St P that you could stay for months and not see everything.

If this is a first of many planned trips then I'd start in Moscow and spend all 2-3 weeks soaking it up (you will barely scratch the surface) and use that knowledge to build on the other cities in followup trips. Kyiv was the first place I visited when the FSU was still the CCCP and one cannot ignore it's beauty or historic importance either. Whereever ever you decide to visit try not to make the visa regime the sole determining factor of a decision.
That's a good point, reading everything makes me re-consider how big Moscow alone really is... I'm just thinking costs now....
Title: Re: Ukraine vs. Russia
Post by: dbneeley on December 27, 2010, 12:22:36 AM
In any of the major cities by far the most expensive places to stay are in the city centers. The father out you go, generally the cheaper the accommodations.

Another rule of thumb--you can rent an apartment for your stay often for less money than the hotels, but with far more comfort and convenience. That way, you can prepare many of your own meals more economically by far than if  you ate constantly in restaurants.

In Kyiv, for example, you can get a flat not far from one of the outlying subway stops and take the subway into the city center and to many of the points of interest.

I went to a number of cultural events in Kyiv, including both classical and Ukrainian folk music concerts, a pipe organ recital, and both dance and opera performances.

On a practical note, it is quite true that public toilets can be rather inconvenient in many places and it is always a good idea to take a small amount of toilet paper with you in case there is none where you wind up needing it. It is also true that there are still public buildings which have the squat toilets.

The most modern facilities may have very nice public toilet facilities, however. Borispyl airport does, for instance, as do the large hypermarkets that have opened near us.

As for food--personally, I find most of the food in this region is fairly bland by comparison to my diet in the U.S. Since you want to go during the Summer, you will likely find the produce here exceptional--tomatoes, for example, taste much as the home-grown and vine ripened variety you get in the States and far superior to the supermarket variety there.

I look forward to our new flat, where I will be planting some jalapeño peppers in a couple of pots on the balcony there. I fully intend to make my own pico de gallo and alleviate some of the more bland dishes!   8:)

David
Title: Re: Should I visit Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: mendeleyev on December 27, 2010, 12:52:30 AM
Quote
Is there a thread that shows the American and Ukrainian/Russian cultural differences that we need to know?


Go to the Culture section where there are several threads.
Title: Re: Ukraine vs. Russia
Post by: shakespear on December 27, 2010, 10:29:16 AM
I'd have to disagree slightly there Shakey. I have been to beaches in Florida, and a couple of Caribbean countries beaches as well, never been to Hawaii. In Zakota ( near Odessa) I saw an endless beach of fine sand that rivals the beach in Varadaro or Cancun. 

You learn something new every day. 

I never knew such beaches existed anywhere on the Black Sea.

My experience with Black Sea beaches has always been rocky beaches where the local population has the nasty habit of breaking their empty beer bottles making swimming without hard-sole shoes a risky practice. 

Title: Re: Ukraine vs. Russia
Post by: Paul on December 27, 2010, 11:35:28 AM
I'd have to disagree slightly there Shakey. I have been to beaches in Florida, and a couple of Caribbean countries beaches as well, never been to Hawaii. In Zakota ( near Odessa) I saw an endless beach of fine sand that rivals the beach in Varadaro or Cancun. 

You learn something new every day. 

I never knew such beaches existed anywhere on the Black Sea.

My experience with Black Sea beaches has always been rocky beaches where the local population has the nasty habit of breaking their empty beer bottles making swimming without hard-sole shoes a risky practice.

I can't speak for Ukraine but, in Romania the beeches have to be kept to a certain "cleanliness" standard since they are in the EU. If Ukraine hopes to enter the EU, it would seem that they would be trying to follow their rules. Also, in Romania, go breaking bottles and leaving trash on the beaches and the locals are likely to beat you to an inch of your life,.. they know where their money is coming from.
Title: Re: Каждый кулик своё болото хвалит
Post by: Muzh_1 on December 27, 2010, 02:28:25 PM
It is true that the crow thinks its own bird fairest yet I believe Ukraine is more welcoming to foreigners. You do not need a visa to start with.

With the OP being Latino, too, I would be somewhat concerned about the current racial unrest in Russia--where Russian skinheads have been rather brutally attacking many with darker skins of late. While this may not be directed to foreign tourists, it would be difficult to console onesself to that fact if caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

David

David, that was very Archie Bunker of you. Do you know this guy? Ever seen him? Or is it that all latinos are mulatitos unable to say a few words en Ingles?

Astroboy, heed to David's concern regarding the racial unrest in Rusia. It's real.
Title: Re: Каждый кулик своё болото хвалит
Post by: dbneeley on December 28, 2010, 12:02:02 AM
It is true that the crow thinks its own bird fairest yet I believe Ukraine is more welcoming to foreigners. You do not need a visa to start with.

With the OP being Latino, too, I would be somewhat concerned about the current racial unrest in Russia--where Russian skinheads have been rather brutally attacking many with darker skins of late. While this may not be directed to foreign tourists, it would be difficult to console onesself to that fact if caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

David

David, that was very Archie Bunker of you. Do you know this guy? Ever seen him? Or is it that all latinos are mulatitos unable to say a few words en Ingles?

Astroboy, heed to David's concern regarding the racial unrest in Rusia. It's real.

Apparently, Muzh, in your rush to judge others according to your own preconceptions you haven't followed the news very closely. There have been widely reported incidences of racially-motivated attacks by Russian "skinheads" within the past several weeks alone. This has been particularly a problem around football venues, but has happened elsewhere as well.

I won't be bothered to find the news links for you--but they should be easy to resurrect using the terms "Russian skinheads" in Google news search. You might find the exercise a worthwhile one.

For your information, I have lived on the Mexican border and traveled extensively throughout the country--even living there for a summer studying in a language institute in Cuernavaca--my dearly loved sister-in-law is Mexican, born in Matamoros (and married to my brother for more than 45 years now), and had I not found the right lady when I happened to come first to Ukraine I likely would have been intensively looking in Latin America. I am also fluent in Spanish, albeit a bit rusty these days for want of practice.

However, facts are facts. Obviously, it is not always simple to tell the extent of such a problem from news accounts alone, but the number of them in recent years--and the fact that it seems to be increasing of late--is simply a factor that should not be ignored.

Wishing it were otherwise is one thing, but only the most foolish simply label any evidence of prudence where appropriate as "racism"--that can prove to be rather dangerous ignorance.

Your knee-jerk reaction seems typical of many who don't inhabit the real world with the rest of us. As much as I like and admire the Russian people for many things, the amount of racism among the population is larger than we are accustomed to in the West...of that I have no doubt, based upon numerous instances within my experience.

Sorry you simply pop off so predictably rather than asking questions first.

David

.
Title: Re: Каждый кулик своё болото хвалит
Post by: Muzh_1 on December 28, 2010, 08:11:18 AM
It is true that the crow thinks its own bird fairest yet I believe Ukraine is more welcoming to foreigners. You do not need a visa to start with.

With the OP being Latino, too, I would be somewhat concerned about the current racial unrest in Russia--where Russian skinheads have been rather brutally attacking many with darker skins of late. While this may not be directed to foreign tourists, it would be difficult to console onesself to that fact if caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

David

David, that was very Archie Bunker of you. Do you know this guy? Ever seen him? Or is it that all latinos are mulatitos unable to say a few words en Ingles?

Astroboy, heed to David's concern regarding the racial unrest in Rusia. It's real.

Apparently, Muzh, in your rush to judge others according to your own preconceptions you haven't followed the news very closely. There have been widely reported incidences of racially-motivated attacks by Russian "skinheads" within the past several weeks alone. This has been particularly a problem around football venues, but has happened elsewhere as well.

I won't be bothered to find the news links for you--but they should be easy to resurrect using the terms "Russian skinheads" in Google news search. You might find the exercise a worthwhile one.

For your information, I have lived on the Mexican border and traveled extensively throughout the country--even living there for a summer studying in a language institute in Cuernavaca--my dearly loved sister-in-law is Mexican, born in Matamoros (and married to my brother for more than 45 years now), and had I not found the right lady when I happened to come first to Ukraine I likely would have been intensively looking in Latin America. I am also fluent in Spanish, albeit a bit rusty these days for want of practice.

However, facts are facts. Obviously, it is not always simple to tell the extent of such a problem from news accounts alone, but the number of them in recent years--and the fact that it seems to be increasing of late--is simply a factor that should not be ignored.

Wishing it were otherwise is one thing, but only the most foolish simply label any evidence of prudence where appropriate as "racism"--that can prove to be rather dangerous ignorance.

Your knee-jerk reaction seems typical of many who don't inhabit the real world with the rest of us. As much as I like and admire the Russian people for many things, the amount of racism among the population is larger than we are accustomed to in the West...of that I have no doubt, based upon numerous instances within my experience.

Sorry you simply pop off so predictably rather than asking questions first.

David

 ???

Let's see, I said:

Astroboy, heed to David's concern regarding the racial unrest in Rusia. It's real.

Did I use the wrong verb?

For the rest, I'm sorry to have embarassed you that way. I know deep down you are a nice guy.  :)
Title: The following error or errors occurred while posting this message: No subject wa
Post by: Stirlitz on December 29, 2010, 03:13:02 AM
That is basically the only real advantage. 
I do not think so. There are other advantages. I feel that Ukraine is a little cheaper and safer than Russia.

As for beautiful women, I was not impressed with them at all during my several visits to Russia in 2005 and 2006. In particular, to Voronej and Moscow. While Nijniy Novgorod could boast some interesting species, I did not see one in Voronej. As for Moscow my wife was the most striking woman in the crowd as we were walking around and I could tell it by the people. It is a little different in Odessa to be true. It looks like most Moscow women are too busy with work, everyday things, etc and they care less about how they look in public. This is just one experience basically but that is what I saw. In fact, when visiting a new town I usually tend to notice more pretty women than at home simply because everything is new and fresh. In Russia it suddenly did not work this way.

But beauty is in the eyes of the beholder or what do you say. It is pretty biased.

With the OP being Latino, too, I would be somewhat concerned about the current racial unrest in Russia--where Russian skinheads have been rather brutally attacking many with darker skins of late.
Yes. This is also something that I was not sure should be mentioned but it exists. While it would not be correct to state that skinheads can only be seen in Russia and they are very bad and wide-spread there while Ukraine is completely free of that, I would still claim that the situation is worse in Russia. How much worse is hard to estimate but it is. I have only heard about racist attacks in Ukraine several times while I constantly hear about cases like that in Russia. And, skinheads aside, many Russians still regard Westerners as enemies while this is getting rare in Ukraine.
Title: Re: Should I visit Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: Eduard on December 29, 2010, 03:18:00 PM
Must be your perception, Igor. I travel to Ukraine and Russia several times a year (other countries too). I have never seen as many gorgeous women anywhere in the world (and that includes Ukraine) as I have in Moscow, especially in the center of the city.
Title: Re: Should I visit Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: Muzh_1 on December 30, 2010, 09:48:33 AM
Must be your perception, Igor. I travel to Ukraine and Russia several times a year (other countries too). I have never seen as many gorgeous women anywhere in the world (and that includes Ukraine) as I have in Moscow, especially in the center of the city.

Ed, I believe you. I've heard it many times.

Also, I have never seen so many beautiful women in NYC, especially in Manhattan. Is this indicative of the US as a whole?
Title: Re: Should I visit Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: dbneeley on December 30, 2010, 11:26:03 AM

Also, I have never seen so many beautiful women in NYC, especially in Manhattan. Is this indicative of the US as a whole?

It is in both cases indicative of places that attract many young single people to work at better jobs than back at home and where standards of fashion and dress are higher, consistent with the higher incomes there.

In the U.S., there are various places like that--Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Miami, Dallas all spring to mind personally. There are also some university towns that seem to be loaded with gorgeous ladies--Austin, Texas, is one of the best in that regard, I believe--and has been noted as such in various men's magazines over many years now.

On a per capita basis, I think the numbers of beautiful ladies in D.C. or in Austin either one are much higher than in New York City, based upon my travels in and out of all three.
Title: Re: Should I visit Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: ECR844 on December 30, 2010, 11:28:59 AM
Many of those ladies head to DC for the coveted 'clerkship' or are drawn like bees to 'honey' by the perception of wealth and political power or importance that is bred in the petri dish that is DC.
Title: Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: mogurx on December 30, 2010, 01:02:57 PM
I have been to Ukraine and Russia many times.  If you go to Ukraine, it "feels" more western and there is the concept of customer service the farther west you go.  As you go east, it becomes more and more "Russian" influenced.  Personally I would avoid Odeca as a tourist trap.  The RU visa thing is overblown - you can even have a local person who rents you an apartment for a few days do it at the post office - piece of cake.

As in any other venture, the more you read and learn about a prospective country, the better you will be equipped to appreciate it.  Yes, carry your own TP and learn to squat.  Big deal, so what?  I think your dollar will go farther in Russia than in Ukraine - read the currency converters and so on.  On Sheer size, Russia will have more to offer on any account.  Kyiv is a gorgeous city, said to be a city in a park and not the other way around.  Moscow is also fantastic.  Nothing can quite compare to Red Square and the Kremlin.

Learn Cyrillic, at least spelling the words and recognizing place names.  Ukraine will have more English/Russian signs than Russia.  Live with it.  Neither Ukraine or Russia really bother to be "politically correct" in the american sense of the term.  If you can read Cyrillic, you can get around on the metro - an attraction unto itself either in Kyiv or Moskow.   You will soon learn that the good-ol-US-of-A is not the most highly regarded country in the world.  What Russia does has no bearing on what USA/Obama thinks. The Ukraine is slightly better, but has the same sorts of complaints against it as does Russia.   

I would reccommend calling Pavel, an english speaking guide without a history of blemishes, to find an apartment for you when arriving at KBP (Kyiv).  I think it he is at "http://www.yourukraineguide.com.ua" - and no, I don't work for him or have other ties to his biz.  Contact him by email. Ukraine is interesting and the train is a great way to travel.  The "Great War" monuments all over Ukraine and R$ussia are simply awesome to see.  There is also a respect for elders and elder military that is nearly totally absent in USA.  Find out about newly-wed customs and Great War monuments.  Read about Vologograd, Peter, and so on...

If you choose Russia you will arrive in SVO outside of Moscow.  Spend a day or two there and then get on "Sapsan" - the new bullet train to St. Peterburg.  If that is too expensive, try the Neviski Express instead.  Visit a little in  both places.  Talk to locals and get a mini bus to take you to various sites or cities of interest.

Read about places and some choices.  The lowest airfares start to dry up around the end of May, so plan accordingly.  Take crisp newish US dollars - travellers checks are almost worthless except in western Ukraine, like Lvov.  Have copies of you passport front pages and entry stamps or visa.  Take these to you bank or credit union and have them "stamped" and notarized.  "Stamped" stuff in the FSU works like a charm in a lot of circumstances.  Get a strap-on body/belly purse for your valuables.  I don't remember what these things are called, they are nylon and very light weight.

Go find some russian folks around in SF.  Or go to SFSU and look up some folks in the language depts - do some research and reading or exploring on the internet.  One thing will be for sure - you will return with a different view of Russia/Ukraine and also of USA.    :reading:
Title: No subject was filled in.
Post by: Stirlitz on December 30, 2010, 01:09:46 PM
Must be your perception, Igor. I travel to Ukraine and Russia several times a year (other countries too). I have never seen as many gorgeous women anywhere in the world (and that includes Ukraine) as I have in Moscow, especially in the center of the city.
I only spent a couple of days there so this is just my experience. It is a huge city. Things may vary a lot. As well as one’s mileage. No problem, that’s perfectly understandable.
Title: Re: Should I visit Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: Astrophysics on January 13, 2011, 12:32:16 AM
So, I have three ideas:

#1: Visit and stay in Kiev for the whole 2 weeks.

#2: Vist Lyiv, Kiev, Odessa, and Yalta taking a train/bus ride in between a 4 day stay in each city.

#3: Visit Kiev for a week, then go to Moscow for a week.

I like the idea of visiting two countries, but after reading the whole thing about racism in Russia made me paranoid already.

And do you think $1,000 in spending/whatever money should be enough for 2 weeks?


P.S. Does anyone have a rough idea when plane tickets will start to rise up? They're around $1,100-1,500 USD now.
Title: Re: Should I visit Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: dbneeley on January 13, 2011, 02:33:49 AM
So, I have three ideas:

#1: Visit and stay in Kiev for the whole 2 weeks.

#2: Vist Lyiv, Kiev, Odessa, and Yalta taking a train/bus ride in between a 4 day stay in each city.

#3: Visit Kiev for a week, then go to Moscow for a week.

I like the idea of visiting two countries, but after reading the whole thing about racism in Russia made me paranoid already.

And do you think $1,000 in spending/whatever money should be enough for 2 weeks?

P.S. Does anyone have a rough idea when plane tickets will start to rise up? They're around $1,100-1,500 USD now.

First, regarding plane tickets--where are you located? I checked on round trip to and from DFW and Kyiv a week or so ago for travel in March, and the fares seemed to run about $950. Higher than comparable periods in past years when I checked, but not all that much. The travel sites claim that fares (together with as many fees as they can get away with) will likely continue to rise for the foreseeable future--and, of course, the high season fares are generally much higher yet.

As to which plan you follow, that is largely a function of what your objectives are. If before you go you are corresponding with one or more likely prospects, you should obviously go wherever she or they are located. If you have no particular prospects before you go--are you more interested i the possibility of meeting someone who could be serious, or are you wanting to simply to a familiarization trip? If the former, I wouldn't go to four different places--perhaps two would be better. If the latter, by all means spend your time traveling back and forth with a little time in each place that seems to interest you.

Yalta in Summer is supposed to be quite nice; in Winter it's sort of dead with a small resident population and many things closed. It is, after all, mostly a Summer resort. Unless there is someone special there to see, I would not count on much to do there off season at least.

For the longer distances within Ukraine, the overnight train is most popular among locals. These are relatively cheap, and an obvious advantage is that you don't need a flat or hotel for the nights you are traveling, plus they get into their destinations early enough that you have the whole day for "doing your thing" there. I have taken both a commuter flight and the train between Donetsk and Kyiv. The flight was for my trip back to the States this past Summer; I found that extremely convenient, since it put me quickly at Borispyl where I caught the KLM flight later that same day. However, if I planned on spending any time in Kyiv I'd have taken the train instead. From Borispyl, there is a frequent and cheap bus service that goes to Independence Square and then on to the train station, by the way.

For a two week holiday, I would go either to Russia or Ukraine. You'll find plenty to keep you interested in either place. Moscow by itself could easily take two weeks or more since it is so large.

Finally, about money. Would the $1,000 you mentioned include your budget for lodging and meals, or transport between towns? If so, it could definitely be something of a strain. Tourists often have fewer economical choices they are aware of than locals do...especially if you plan on entertaining one or more ladies within that budget. In any event, I am among the many who suggest you find a decent flat to stay in for each city you will be spending any real time in. That is considerably more flexible than a hotel, and it also allows you to do some if not all of your meals in the flat, which is a large cost savings. Should you visit Moscow, it would be difficult to find decent lodging for much less than that as I understand it. Eating out is a huge variable, just as it is about everywhere else these days.

David
Title: Re: Should I visit Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: I/O on January 13, 2011, 04:15:00 AM
#3: Visit Kiev for a week, then go to Moscow for a week.
That one. :nod:

Quote
And do you think $1,000 in spending/whatever money should be enough for 2 weeks?
No.
Title: Re: Ukraine vs. Russia
Post by: msmoby on January 13, 2011, 06:34:42 AM
I'd have to disagree slightly there Shakey. I have been to beaches in Florida, and a couple of Caribbean countries beaches as well, never been to Hawaii. In Zakota ( near Odessa) I saw an endless beach of fine sand that rivals the beach in Varadaro or Cancun. 

You learn something new every day. 

I never knew such beaches existed anywhere on the Black Sea.

My experience with Black Sea beaches has always been rocky beaches where the local population has the nasty habit of breaking their empty beer bottles making swimming without hard-sole shoes a risky practice.

Hi Shakey,

Don 'put you right' re UA Black Sea beaches.. now I'll suggest you need to walk along the wonderful Russian Black Sea beaches (http://www.russianmap.info/russian_cities/black_sea_coast/anapa/) ( e.g Anapa 0r Gelendzhik (http://gelendzhik.russian-women.net/wallpapers/gelendzhikNi770355.shtml)) in the Krasnodar Oblast ....;)

@ the OP

If you want to see sights in two weeks - *I'd* 'do' Saint Petersburg ( Hermitage and Peterhof), Moscow, Kiev( Kyiv) and and up chilling on a beach in Odessa ...
Title: Re: Should I visit Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: Stirlitz on January 13, 2011, 08:26:25 AM
#1: Visit and stay in Kiev for the whole 2 weeks.
#2: Vist Lyiv, Kiev, Odessa, and Yalta taking a train/bus ride in between a 4 day stay in each city.
Options 1 and 3 are quite expensive. Kiev is a very expensive city, and Moscow is even more expensive, plus a train from Kiev to Moscow is much more expensive than a similar distance within Ukraine. Besides, if you stay in one town for as long as two weeks you will be bored and will not get a good idea of the country as Kiev may be much like another European capital. The same about Moscow, sometimes even muscovites joke if there is life outside of the Moscow ring highway or not? It surely is but it is quite different. The capitals and respective countries are two different worlds, at least here in the FSU.

I like the idea of visiting two countries, but after reading the whole thing about racism in Russia made me paranoid already.
Don’t be paranoid. It is not that bad. Do you hear about plane crashes sometimes? But you are obviously not paranoid to fly.
And do you think $1,000 in spending/whatever money should be enough for 2 weeks?
I do not think so. I would earmark at least twice as much. Especially if you stay in Kiev. If you also visit Moscow, then multiply by 3 instead of 2.
Title: Re: Should I visit Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: erudite on January 13, 2011, 09:14:15 AM
My vote is to go to Ukraine.  You can fly to either Kyiv or Odessa from the USA.  Scour the net for airfare deals because even the search engines from one website to another will have different prices! I usually have about 20 sights I search and even the common ones differ from one site to another with prices. Book early if possible, the earlier the better.

Ukraine has much to see and offer for cheaper travel I think from what I read and I have been there four times in 18 months during summer and winter.  The people are friendly to Americans and also very curious about the USA and its people.  Many speak some English.  Take NEW uncirculated $100.00 bills to exchange as they will not accept older bills.  DO NOT DEPEND ON A CREDIT CARD OR DEBIT CARD FOR YOUR CASH NEEDS IF POSSIBLE.
   
If you start your tour in Odessa in the summer you will see a beautiful city by the sea and much different from the others in Ukraine. Spend several days that and rent an apartment as it will be MUCH cheaper than a hotel.  Gorgeous city, architecture and much history, the Greeks founded it.

Travel by train to Kyiv (which is overnight and you can buy first class tickets cheap).  Stay in Kyiv several days, again in an apartment as the hotels are outrageously expensive. 

Fly from Kyiv to Lviv on a Ukraine regional airline (they have several in Borispol Airport in Kyiv) to spend several days there and then fly back on an early flight to Kyiv to catch your overseas flight back to the USA on the same day.  If you plan early and organize you can manage this much travel easily.

Kyiv is over 1,000 years old and was founded back in the Viking days with great history and beautiful architecture.  Just like Odessa there is so much it is too much to describe.

Lviv is in Western Ukraine and is known as the Florence of this section of Europe, again very old and much much history, very different from Kyiv and Odessa.  Again, too much to describe of the beauty, sights and history but well worth the trip I think.

By going to these three cities you will cover much of the various areas and regions of Ukraine that differ completely from each other and you will see cities that are very old with much history and beauty.  Take a good camera with lots of picture disks.

I would also recommend Kharkiv as it is my favorite city but it is a bit out of the way to try to travel to Odessa, Kyiv and Lviv.

You can find service providers to help you with the tickets on the train and the apartments and just about anything on the thread listing them on this forum.  I would recommend utilizing someone like Stirlitz to help you since you have never been there.

Travel in Ukraine is easy and the people are friendly, usually ready to help and assist you.   It is SAFE and you need not worry. 

By traveling to Odessa first on the trip you will eliminate back travel and forth to Kyiv which is the "hub" city of the country also by train you will see much of the country along the Dnieper River, the heart of Ukraine in the East, you will see the mountains of Western Ukraine in Lviv's region and have the experience of traveling by local airlines (that are safe and reliable) to a beautiful city that has much Western European influence. 

The two weeks will "fly by" quickly but it can be done and enjoyed as well.  You will get lots of advice and opinions on this forum which is good, mine are only from my past experiences.





Title: Re: Should I visit Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: dbneeley on January 13, 2011, 11:17:58 AM
Erudite et al.:

You can also fly into Donetsk via Lufthansa, connecting in Germany.

I don't understand why one would go from Odessa to Kyiv, then to Lviv and back to Kyiv. Why not directly from Odessa to Lviv, then to Kyiv? I would think that would be a little more convenient, giving more time in each city to explore.

While I think the overnight trains are okay, having the extra time by eliminating two trips might come in especially handy if the gentleman were to find an interesting prospect in either place.

David
Title: Re: Should I visit Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: Stirlitz on January 13, 2011, 03:06:49 PM
Kiev is indeed over 1,000 years old. Way over I would say, in fact more than 1,500.
Title: Re: Should I visit Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: dbneeley on January 13, 2011, 03:38:34 PM
Kiev is indeed over 1,000 years old. Way over I would say, in fact more than 1,500.

Indeed. In fact, in the late 1990's Kyiv had a celebration of its 1500th birthday. I was told about it by several people during my first visit in 2000. They said it was a shame I had missed it.

David
Title: Re: Should I visit Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: erudite on January 13, 2011, 06:05:02 PM
The reason I had recommended going to Kyiv and then to Lviv is because there is so much in Kyiv to see that he may decide to shorten or eliminate his side trip to Lviv.  If he goes to Lviv and then to Kyiv he may not get to see as much in Kyiv as he wished he had taken the time to do. Merely my opinion. I would allot more days to a visit to Kyiv than to either Odessa or Lviv, just my preference. A train trip from Odessa to Kyiv will show him the countryside and the Dnieper country that he would not see otherwise and these smaller towns, villages and cities are much of what Ukraine is all about.

And on a train trip in Ukraine you have an opportunity to meet and know some Ukraine people on a more personal basis given the close proximity and confines.  In my experience most have been very interested in talking with me, sharing travel meals and socializing more easily when I was on a train. Taking a travel meal with some treats from America is always a conversation catalyst provided you offer some to your fellow travelers at the appropriate times.  I always get compliments on Cadbury's Milk Chocolate even though it is English it is sold in Walmart.  Listerine Breath Strips are always fascinating and sometimes comical if you give them a cinnamon one (be sure to take one yourself at the same time).  Sharing some TITO'S HANDMADE VODKA (from Texas) is a sure fire ice breaker too. Things like that.  tiphat
Title: Re: Should I visit Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: dbneeley on January 14, 2011, 01:24:19 AM
The reason I had recommended going to Kyiv and then to Lviv is because there is so much in Kyiv to see that he may decide to shorten or eliminate his side trip to Lviv.  If he goes to Lviv and then to Kyiv he may not get to see as much in Kyiv as he wished he had taken the time to do. Merely my opinion. I would allot more days to a visit to Kyiv than to either Odessa or Lviv, just my preference. A train trip from Odessa to Kyiv will show him the countryside and the Dnieper country that he would not see otherwise and these smaller towns, villages and cities are much of what Ukraine is all about.

And on a train trip in Ukraine you have an opportunity to meet and know some Ukraine people on a more personal basis given the close proximity and confines.  In my experience most have been very interested in talking with me, sharing travel meals and socializing more easily when I was on a train. Taking a travel meal with some treats from America is always a conversation catalyst provided you offer some to your fellow travelers at the appropriate times.  I always get compliments on Cadbury's Milk Chocolate even though it is English it is sold in Walmart.  Listerine Breath Strips are always fascinating and sometimes comical if you give them a cinnamon one (be sure to take one yourself at the same time).  Sharing some TITO'S HANDMADE VODKA (from Texas) is a sure fire ice breaker too. Things like that.  tiphat

Erudite,

I suspect that in many of these places, a first trip will not include many of the things you'd like to see no matter where you go. Things are simply too new, and the rush to try to get everything in is a large barrier.

I understand your suggestion, but I find that sight-seeing on the train is a limited thing at best for several reasons. for one thing, this time of year, the overnight trains are leaving after dark--and there are few things to see at night from a passing train.

I have shared your approach of offering food to other passengers as a good ice-breaker when I traveled alone by train. Obviously, though, you are limited by chance as to whom you will be in proximity to--sometimes it's very interesting, sometimes the people simply want to be left alone. As a general rule, though, I have found people here to be surprisingly approachable by a person who is obviously a foreigner--far more so, I suspect, than for most locals who don't have the mutual curiosity factor at work.

That said, for a two week trip I would still avoid the extra two overnight journeys...especially if there will be one or more ladies to meet in the process. If you want to spend more time in Kyiv with the option of changing your itinerary substantially to do so, then I'd begin the trip in Kyiv and go on from there to other places that might be of interest. That would also be somewhat more economical, as there are more flight choices usually with a lot more variation in bargain fares than might be the case in Odessa.

If I wanted to see the sights of the countryside, I'd probably be interested in a bus trip as being somewhat more conducive to the sight-seeing factor than a journey by train is.

Still, everyone must decide what is the best option for himself, given restraints such as time, finances, and individual interests.

David
Title: Kiev
Post by: Stirlitz on January 14, 2011, 02:01:24 AM
Indeed. In fact, in the late 1990's Kyiv had a celebration of its 1500th birthday. I was told about it by several people during my first visit in 2000. They said it was a shame I had missed it.
Something is wrong. The 1,500th anniversary of Kiev was celebrated much earlier, in the Soviet time, in the mid-1980’s (actually I think in 1982). I still remember cards with the sights of Kiev that read: Kiev is 1,500! that were available in the USSR.

However, no one knows for sure when Kiev was exactly founded. 482 is a guess. It may have existed before. But it could be just small settlements that turned into a city much later, in the 8th century for example. Another opinion is actually 400 years older: 882.
A train trip from Odessa to Kyiv will show him the countryside and the Dnieper country that he would not see otherwise and these smaller towns, villages and cities are much of what Ukraine is all about.
A train trip… will not allow to see much as it is an overnight train.
Title: Re: Should I visit Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: Astrophysics on January 14, 2011, 02:33:10 AM
I'm coming from San Francisco, CA. USA. and the tickets for June 1st range in that price $1,100-1,500.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I read it's about $44 for a one-way train ride within Ukraine and $223 from Kiev to Russia?

And there is no one I'm going to meet up anyone with although if something there happens, cool. I did have a friend in Kiev, but he moved to Thailand. So it will just be me and my cousin, then again there's a small chance she may not make it, I'll still go alone.

So what's better for lodging in (for 2 weeks)? Apartment or hostel? I know a hotel is expensive, but what do you recommend?

Oh yeah, and maybe I wasn't clear enough, but I mean $1,000 in spending money. (excluding transportation and lodging) So that means food included. I'm not a big spender, but I'd love to make the most out of what I have.

Apologize for not being thorough enough, I wish I had time, but work here is heavy.
Title: Re: Should I visit Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: I/O on January 14, 2011, 03:14:53 AM
So what's better for lodging in (for 2 weeks)? Apartment or hostel? I know a hotel is expensive, but what do you recommend?
For young'uns such as yourself and perhaps your cousin, I'd recommend the hostel option. It's a whole lot of fun and you'll meet loads of others doing the same thing as you are.

Mrs I/O and I stayed here http://www.oasishostel.ru/?lang=Eng for a couple of nights in 2009 and whilst I am a crusty ol' *snip* who prefers the hotel option, this was a deal of fun, very clean, within walking distance of Red Square (it's a decent hike but doable), about 100 yards from a Metro station and amid some classy little cafe's.

If you do Saint Petersburg http://www.antoniohouse.ru/eng , again having stayed there, it's not really my cup of tea but comfortable enough and about 500 yards walk to Nevsky where you can hop on a bus to Hermitage or wherever for about 10 roubles IIRC. There's loads of water cruises, cafe's and so forth to get you started nearby.
Title: Re: Should I visit Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: Paul on January 14, 2011, 03:15:15 AM
$1,000 is enough,.. how many matryoshka dolls could you possibly you want to buy? I would never visit Russia, Ukraine, Romania, or anywhere else in Eastern Europe for two weeks with only $1,000 though.

I'm not sure how it is in Ukraine or Russia but, from Bucharest you can fly almost anywhere in Europe on one of the low cost airlines for under 200 euros.
Title: Re: Should I visit Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: dbneeley on January 14, 2011, 03:17:45 AM
Astrophysics--

June is the beginning of the high season. If you can go in May instead, you may get better rates. Also--don't wait until the weeks immediately before your trip to buy your tickets. Last year, I went in July but bought my tickets in early May. Three weeks after I bought them, I checked and they were going for more than $300 more than I paid. Also, with the onset of Summer vacations, flights tend to get very full. There were no empty seats on my flights, for instance.

Just for giggles, I looked a few moments ago at various airfare sites. Going on June 1 and returning on the 22d, the lowest fares I saw were $1164 including taxes. That is actually a good price that will likely fill up fast (one flight had only one seat left on June 1, for instance). Thus, were I you, I'd be for getting my cousin off dead center to make a decision about going very soon if you want to get the best price.

A hostel might be okay--I haven't stayed in one in Ukraine. There should be plenty of reviews on the Internet about them, however. Hostels also aren't very popular among bride seekers in general, it seems. I have stayed in many of them over the years during solo travel, but none in the FSU.

Otherwise, an apartment would be a far better choice than a hotel--less expensive in most cases and much more flexible as well. As I said before, simply being able to prepare some of your meals at the flat is a definite cost savings. I rarely find breakfasts that interesting in restaurants, for instance, so having at least that meal in a flat gets your days off to a good start at a relatively low cost. (Note, too, that the FSU is not particularly known for breakfasts, and usually far different than either the U.S. or Britain in that regard. Most often, people here simply eat the same sorts of things they eat for lunch or dinner--often leftovers from the day before, when eating at home. Thus, if you are accustomed to a particular style of eating, it is far easier to accomplish when you cook it yourself in a flat. Most "breakfast foods" are available in the supermarkets here although American cereals may be difficult or impossible to find a would regional dishes from back home. There are good cereals available (I happen to like muesli, for instance, and usually have oatmeal myself).

I'd probably budget $60 per day for a flat in Kyiv, although if you're willing to get one near one of the outlying subway stops somewhat away from the city center you may get by for $35 or $40 per night or thereabouts.

If you intend to go to another city in Ukraine from Kyiv, I suggest you buy your tickets for the journey as soon after arriving in Kyiv as you can. The most popular days may fill up early on some routes; we have had that happen to us a few times.

David

Title: Re: Should I visit Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: Stirlitz on January 14, 2011, 06:59:52 AM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I read it's about $44 for a one-way train ride within Ukraine and $223 from Kiev to Russia?
It sounds correct to me.
So what's better for lodging in (for 2 weeks)? Apartment or hostel? I know a hotel is expensive, but what do you recommend?
A hotel or a hostel? I would range the hotels as the most expensive and hostels as very cheap with apartments in-between but it varies.
Title: Re: Should I visit Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: erudite on January 14, 2011, 09:33:03 AM
I bow to the expertise of Stirlitz since he is a native; however my experience with an overnight train ride was that in the summer the sun rises very early in Ukraine and it does not set nearly so early in the afternoon.  I had plenty of time to see the countryside and villages and small towns as I passed through them. I enjoyed it very much. Your mileage may vary however.
Title: Re: Should I visit Ukraine or Russia?
Post by: Astrophysics on January 22, 2011, 08:32:16 PM
I just went to the Consulate General of Ukraine yesterday to make sure I didn't need a visa, and yeah I don't. It was kinda funny how they were simple about it, I had a good laugh with one of the employees:

Me: So, I don't need a visa?
Him: No, all you need is passport and plane.

Coincidently, I got a chance to meet the general after closing hours. He was extremely friendly and helpful. I could tell the cultural difference already. He went out of his way to help me find some websites, even with his driver waiting outside. He recommend I stay at least a week in Kiev and especially Odessa because "there is much to see."

Well, I don't think my cousin is going anymore, but I still want to go.

I hear from one hostel I can try tank driving, horse riding, and AK-47 shooting. That sounds like a lot of fun!

I'm thinking about maybe pushing the trip to the beginning of July, as I might be going to South Korea too in June instead. Either/or at this point. I still want to visit the Consulate of Russia in my city to get more information about the visa and just to get a "vibe." as that idea of visiting Kiev and going to Moscow sounds really thrilling.


P.S. On a different note, since my cousin isn't most likely going, and my friend from Kiev moved, I have been talking to a few ladies from Ukraine/Russia from some dating sites like fdating/ll/asrg etc. and this may be a culture difference, but it seems as if they're quick to get together. I feel a bit in doubt with their sincerity, even after talking to them on the phone and seeing them on camera.

Then again, I read a couple things (I don't remember where exactly) a while back; from what I remember, "acquaintance" doesn't really exist in FSU, and things (dating, getting to know each other) are a lot more straightforward etc. and how our American culture is "closed" off to people etc. I can agree with some of that more or less, but what I'm wondering, is there culture difference when it comes to courting, dating, and even friendships? Can anyone speak from experience and not something they read?

P.S.S. Does anyone know how work is there for foreigners? I had an idea, would it be possible to teach there?

I really appreciate the help y'all! I'm serious, thank you a million. Hope everyone has a good weekend.
Title: Re: Ukraine vs. Russia
Post by: el_guero on January 22, 2011, 11:22:34 PM
If that is your plan, I might suggest Kiev and Moscow.  There are flights and trains between the two.

If $200 more for visas is a lot, you might just consider Ukraine.

Yes, you can teach there.  Although you are supposed to get a  business visa.

Cultural differences?

Not much for me - "they" are very much like educated but still "traditional" Mexican men and women.  They are interested in serious men.  Players abound there just like they do here, and women just don't seem to want to waste their time on a foreign player over a local player.

I gotta ask, what in the world do you expect to find in S. Korea?