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Author Topic: My First Trip to Ukraine  (Read 6143 times)

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Offline cdrp

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My First Trip to Ukraine
« on: October 19, 2008, 03:32:13 PM »
I have enjoyed reading other trip reports that have been posted and so now it's my turn.  I can't say if this report will be valuable, but I suppose it may be good for insomnia.  My girl V (I had it translated for her to read before I posted it) was surprised that I did not say more about the two of us.  Decorum is the key to this post, so I will apologize now for the lack of "personal" description in this account.  It is a bit on the long side (~9000 words), but gives a good overview of what I saw and experienced on my first visit to Ukraine.

Before I start, a little background would be in order I suppose.

Me, a career military officer with 2 divorces behind me and a son in college.  Dated often, had several steady girlfriends, even engaged once after the last divorce 11 years ago.  Still looking for the right partner.  Why the FSU?  Go figure, everybody has their own reasons, and I suppose mine are not much different than the others.

After a very disappointing few months with eHarmony (oh the shallow women!!!), I decided to make the plunge into the FSU forum of opportunity.  A month of investigation and I ended up with my profile on Elena's, Anastasia, AFA, TAU2, and a few others.  I chose about a dozen women from these sites and prepared a lengthy letter of introduction and had it professionally translated ($120 for the 5 pages).  I am aware of the discussion on this topic (introduction letter length), and have to say that, what will work for one, may not work for another.  My opinion on the length of letter depends on what you write, and who you send it to.  For me, I received a 100% positive response to my first letter.  This was late April. 

As far as how I chose the women?  I poured over the profiles of a dozen different agencies for a month;  First looking for women in the age group that I had selected (35-50), all of which would have a child (preferably older).  I wanted a woman that would not be looking to have another child (I am too old to start another family at 51), but would also not be in a situation of disappointment at not having a child if she was not already a parent.  In addition I wanted her to have an education and be working as a professional, the type of work was not important.  Primarily I was looking for a woman that I would be able to understand and communicate with.  The final requirement was physical attraction.  I actually wanted to find a woman that I was attracted to also (what a surprise).  The bottom line here is, I went to many agencies and put my requirements into the search engines and waited for the pictures to pop up.  I would then store the profiles in my favorites section and then read the profiles at my leisure.  I estimate that I looked at 10,000 pictures, read several hundred profiles and actually considered around 50 candidates.  In the end, I sent inquiries to 12.

It was late April when I began my correspondence.  For me, one big trigger with respect to a woman's suitability is her ability (and desire)  to write.  For me, communication is very important, and I find in most cases, it is far more difficult for a woman to deceive with a well written letter (form letters do not fly in this situation, because the woman must communicate, not just talk at me, as you would find in a form letter from a scammer).  It took about a month to bring the field down to 3 women.  After another month I was down to one, and very happy with the progress at that point.  In fact, that was when I made my plane reservation to visit the Ukraine.  My visit would be to just one woman.  Would I have a backup plan?  At one point prior to my departure, I started to make arrangements, but it was due to a mis communication more than anything else, and in the end I went without a fall back plan.  I cannot recommend this method to everyone, it was an individual preference for me, and how you plan must be what will work for you.  For me, I wanted V to understand that I was coming to visit her, and only her.  She told me later that if she was only one stop on my trip of many women, our meeting would have been significantly different as far as she was concerned.  She understood the concept of WMVM, and was not a big fan.  She said she would not waste her time on any man who considered her just a "stop" on his tour.  I can understand this position.  If a woman takes the time to write and speak to a man before he arrives (honestly, not casually as so many women seem to want) then she expects as much on his part.  In a perfect world I am sure this is true.  Unfortunately there are way too many variables here, so all I could hope for was luck.  To me, the WMVM and WOVO both have their strong points, and it is up to the man "and" the woman to decide what works best for them.  For me, I guess it will be WOVO.

And so, it begins.............. :popcorn:


Day (-1)  Thursday, 7 August

I have finally finished packing and am off from work cleaning up a few loose ends.  The  process of preparing was a bit nerve wracking due to my over preparation nature.  The past few weeks at work were so involved I was running on empty when it came to reviewing in my head the final details.  Thank goodness I made check lists of the final preparations so I don't have to rely on my burnt out peanut of a brain.

I called V that morning just to make sure everything was going well.  She was very excited on the phone and although I am using an interpreter, I could hear how happy she was.  I have arranged for a car to pick her up in Nikolayev and meet me at the airport.  I am almost more nervous about the flight as I am about meeting her.  It should be interesting considering I am not sure about her exact English capabilities and we have decided to forego the interpreter until the day after I arrive.

Day 1     Friday, 8 August

Friday 0500, I am up and proceed with the preparations to head to the Airport.  A friend will arrive at 0600 and drive me out to SFO.  Of course I am ready at 0530 and wander through my home checking and rechecking everything for the 2 weeks of coming absence.  0600 and my ride arrives. 

After a 48 minute drive, I am outside the International terminal with bags in hand.  Almost three hours before the flight and I am getting worried because there is no LOT flight displayed.  I remember that LOT is a code share with United, so I ask at the UAL counter about the flight.  This is when I find out that the first leg is a domestic flight even though I will check in for an International destination.  I am off to terminal 3 to check in…now I am glad I arrived 3 hours before my departure time. 

Terminal 3 is only a 5 minute walk and tram ride away.  This terminal is a sharp contrast to the quiet efficiency of the international terminal.  I suppose it was that way because not many international flights depart in the mornings from SFO.  Terminal 3 is the UAL primary terminal and it is a complete madhouse.  There were so many people I could not tell where either check-in, nor security lines began or ended.  A question to one of the UAL customer service folks got me in a 200 meter long serpentine line to check in.

The wait to check-in was actually quite reasonable (about 10 minutes).  As I discovered, there was a method to this chaos and United seemed to understand just how to manage.  They had screening personnel strategically placed throughout the line to incrementally get you ready to check-in.  The first, sorted you based on destination, the second got you paperwork ready and the third sent you to the proper counter.  Since I was checking in for an International flight, one of the CS reps monitored me personally to see that all the necessary extra steps were properly executed (passport screening via the special scanner at the counter).  She then walked me down to a special documents verification counter to finish my check-in.  I have never experienced such great service…and I fly for a living!

Security and the wait at the gate were as expected and we departed on time.  Arrival at O’Hare was uneventful and the only worry was transferring to the international terminal and having to go through security once again.  With less than 1.5 hours between flights this was actually cutting it pretty close.  I arrived with 5 minutes to spare before we began boarding.  I would be surprised if someone could make this transition who was not familiar with the airport.  I know O’Hare very well and it was still had very little time to spare.

The LOT 767 was a decent aircraft, although it did lack many of the amenities that you would see on a British or US aircraft.  No first class and the Business class appeared to be a bit on the Spartan side.  Nevertheless, I was in Coach and as long as the plane was on time, I would be just fine.

Offline cdrp

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2008, 03:35:55 PM »
Day 2    Saturday, 9 August…Somewhere over the Atlantic (35000 feet, Mach .82)

The flight to Warsaw was on schedule and as comfortable as you could expect for a 9 hour leg.  The food was palatable and the flight attendants cordial.  I considered this a good flight actually because there were no screaming children or the proverbial nut behind me kicking my seat for the entire trip.  I actually got some sleep.

Arrival in Warsaw was on time again and that left me just over an hour to walk to my next gate.  So, through arrival customs, then through security once again and then back through customs again.  The ink on my entry stamp for Poland had not even dried before my passport was once again stamped for exit.  I arrived at the gate as they began to board.  Well, not exactly board....board the bus that is.  The passengers walked down the jetway stairs and we all climbed aboard a transfer bus to take us to the plane.  No big deal, I have done this many times at airports all over the world.  There were planes right next to our gate, even one just 30 feet away from the bus, but I figured we would be taken farther out onto the ramp to board a smaller jet that did not have access to the jetway.  After a 15 minute wait aboard the bus we were off to the plane…all 30 feet of distance!  The bus circled around the base of the jetway and pulled up next to the stairs to the plane.  The circuitous route to the plane was all of 50 meters of driving.  If we had walked to the plane from the gate, it would have been a 4-6 second hike.

The bus ride to the plane certainly did not upset anyone, although there were several smiles and a bit of chatter from the passengers when they realized what happened.  The flight from Warsaw did depart about 15 minutes late due to a delay in transfer for a few other passengers.  As it was, we actually arrived only 10 minutes behind schedule in Odessa and I would have to say, not bad for a 18 hour total gate to gate time. 

Odessa airport was pretty much what I expected to see.  A bit on the older well worn side with your standard variety of derelict aircraft scattered throughout the airport perimeter.  The runway, taxiway and ramp sections were also older with a generous helping of grass and plant growth coming through the sections of tarmac that are not used on a daily basis.  The terminal was relatively clean from the outside although it could use a facelift.  The ramp personnel were prompt, well dressed and courteous.  Operations were smooth transferring us to the terminal via airport transport bus.  Passport control was as reported in other posts.  After filling out the documents at the counter (yes I did remember to bring a pen) I jumped in line with everyone else.   After 15 minutes in line I was through to collect my bags…if they actually made it.  I had my doubts after reading about so many horror stories from other folks.  Plus mine had been checked all the way from SFO and changed planes twice!  When I waked into the baggage claim they were both there, one bag and one box (chocolates from Ghirardelli, packed in a cushioned, insulated shipping bag inside the box). 

Customs control was the same as any other.  Do I have any gifts, money etc.?  Well of course I did, and I am sure they would want to charge a nice duty on the gifts.  So I promptly declared my cash and the very large box of chocolates as my duty subject items.  That box of chocolate really must have really confused these guys.  They seemed to forget all about any other gifts I was obviously hiding, and wanted to see what was really  in that box.  So I obliged…I don't know what they expected to find, but I don't think it was chocolate.  That poor customs official looked so sad when he saw the big basket of chocolate, he just sighed and walked away.  I'm sorry, but I could not help grin when I saw how disappointed he was.

OK, the moment of truth.  I am looking at a set of double doors, knowing on the other side is V. Now I am wondering if the 10 second, 30 second, or 30 minute rule will spell disaster?  You know the one…where you realize in that fateful period whether or not you have nothing in common/attraction/chemistry with this woman?  So I am thinking, in the next 60 seconds I will find out…deep breath, through the doors and???

The first ten steps into the lobby were nothing more than getting through the gauntlet of taxi drivers.  No big deal, I was half in a fog anyway, then I spotted V.  She was approaching fast from the right and I could not have been happier.  No picture shock here, she was as beautiful in person as she was in her photo's.  We saw each other about the same time and after a very nice hug she greeted me in English.  For a woman who does not speak English, she is very good.  As I found out, she understated her English ability a great deal in her profile and did not expose her ability while we spoke on the phone though an interpreter.  As far as the initial attraction rule goes…off the scale for both of us. 

V took my arm and led me over to our driver Slavik.  Nice guy, about 30 who was casually dressed.  We went out to his car, a late 90 something Honda accord that had been well used.  No A/C of course and since it was around 85 degrees (30c) the ride was destined to be a warm one.

I took about 30 minutes to make our way out of town ( a very warm 30 minutes) and onto the highway to Nikolayev.  After a bit of discussion we decided to work our way up the road for about 30 more minutes and then stop for some food (none of us had eaten much that morning).  I was not really hungry, but when I found out V and Slavik had not eaten lunch, I decided that we must stop and eat.  Besides, a cool drink would be nice regardless.  We pulled off at a spot with a few restaurants and cafe's, and I was able to get some local currency from an ATM.  I intended on exchanging money in Warsaw, but there just was not any time.

We had a small meal outside on the balcony of a nice little restaurant.  The food was just OK, but I really didn't mind at this point because I was in a fog due to fatigue and enjoyment at being with V.  At the end of the meal, I made my first visit to the restroom in Ukraine.  It may sound silly, but there are a few things you do for the first time in every country that you have an interest in (perhaps a “curiosity” is a better description).  I have read so many [horror] stories about the bathrooms in the FSU, I was actually interested in seeing for myself.  Well, this bathroom was as I have seen in a thousand European restrooms….standard fixtures and relatively clean.  I guess I'll have to wait to relate my FSU bathroom horror story for another time.  To be honest, I saw pretty much what I expected.  As we have in the US, you can find some interesting bathrooms if you look in the right gas stations.

Back on the road heading for Nikolayev.  The last 1.5 hours was relatively uneventful except for the truck that blew a tire right in front of us and the standard road rally driving skills exhibited by everyone on the highway.  As with pretty much everything else I have experienced, the trip by car was exactly as depicted in several other posts.


When we were an hour out, V tried to call the agent for the apartment I rented.  The number did not work.  As a good anal retentive military officer, I pulled out the briefing book I created for the trip and referred to the 2 month old email confirmation for additional numbers.  I ended up calling the Moscow contact number and received a new mobile number in Nikolayev for the agent.  That done, we set up an estimated arrival time at the apartment.

We met the Agent at the appointed time and checked into the apartment.  Again, I was prepared for what I saw prior to entering the apartment. 

The building would be described similar to what I have read as a typical FSU apartment building.  A bit on the run down side from the exterior and a concrete stairwell through the entryway.  The interior was poorly lit by western standards and could have used a coat of paint.  I was surprised to find a working elevator however.  The apartment is decorated with somewhat dubious taste (too much blue for me, and I like blue), but nevertheless, very clean and serviceable.  It even has a broadband connection that works!  After signing the papers, I paid Slavic and sent him back to Odessa.

It was 1900 by this time and I needed to freshen up.  V said she would go to her place (2 minute walk from my apartment) and return at 2100.  We would then go out and buy some essentials and perhaps have a cup of coffee to close out the day.

After a bit of unpacking and a quick shower, V arrived at exactly 2100.  I mean she rang the bell within 2 seconds of the WWV time tick of 2100 (I set my watch before I left the states).  I love a punctual woman!

I had unpacked my laptop and was in the process of transferring pics from my camera to the hard drive when she arrived.  When she saw this, she just had to look at all the pictures.  It took over an hour just to get through the ones she thought were cute (European trip pics I took with my son 6 months ago).  After I promised to show her the rest later, we headed out for the store…it’s now 2200 and I have been up for 31 hours.

There is a nice modern shopping center just 10 minutes walk from the Apartment and they have a grocery store that is open until 2300.  The prices were about ¼ of what they are in California for most items.  I spent about $8 on $30 worth of supplies, and was quite pleased.

After the grocery store we went up to the third level of the shopping center to a café and enjoyed an “American Coffee”.  Again, the price was about $1 for a cup of $4 star bucks equivalent.  For a guy who does not drink coffee, it was pretty good.

 (At this point I am going to interject a side note.  The communications issue with V and myself has not materialized.  I have an electronic translator that I brought, and we used that until the battery went dead.  The trip to the store and café was made without even a dictionary.  As I said before, V does speak much better English than she indicated prior to my arrival (I have read this is not all that uncommon).  I would say at this point, that I am not real impressed with the electronic translator.  The inability to properly integrate grammar makes it very difficult to use.  I would guess that between my adjusting vocabulary to account for hers, and understanding where the difficulties lie with verbal communications, we are getting along very well with respect to speech.  We have decided at this point not to use an interpreter until later in the trip.  There are things we want to discuss, but we will write these topics down with the questions, and discuss them when we have access to a qualified interpreter that has been previously arranged.) 

After walking back to the apartment and putting away the groceries, I said goodnight to V. 

I can say for sure that she is as happy about our first day together as I am.  Our conversations, however rudimentary they may have been, were open, frank, and warm.  We both are well aware of what we are looking for, and want from the other person.  While neither of us has any illusions about the future, we are both very excited to see where “we” will go over the next two weeks.  I could not have hoped for a better first day! :loving:

Offline cdrp

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2008, 03:38:56 PM »
Day 3   Sunday, 10 August

I woke up at 0400 after about 4 ½ hours of sleep.  As fate would have it, no way am I going back to sleep.  So after working on my Russian with the E translator, I shifted over to the laptop and started to write the first installment of the trip report.

The remainder of Sunday was interesting from a sleepy perspective

V arrived at 1200 and we enjoyed the air conditioning in the apartment for an hour just talking before heading out. We headed back to the local “mall” called “City Center”.  It is a modern 4 story mall with about 25 shops of various sorts including a grocery store and a café/coffee shop on the top floor.  There is also a small casino and billiards/bowling alley on the first floor.

After a leisurely hour over a cup of coffee and a piece of cake we made our way to the bus stop for the “little” busses.  The temperature outside is running in the 30’s and we are feeling the heat.  The busses are not air conditioned (as I would expect most folks reading this to already know) and as it was, not entirely uncomfortable, as long as I was able to look at V.  The bus ride while inexpensive was exciting as any ride in a race car would be.  I am still not sure how we rode for more than 30 minutes without hitting anything.

The purpose of the ride was just to meet a girlfriend and pick up an item V ordered.  We arrived on the other side of town and after a short wait the friend showed up.  5 minutes later we were walking back to the bus stop to head back into town.  One thing I was finding out quickly was that the schedules for the small busses was, shall we say, not fixed in stone.  Hoping to spot a bus that was not overflowing with people that just happened to be sporting the proper number in the windshield was not as easy as one would have liked.  After a short walk of 30 minutes or so, we gave up on the bus, flagged a taxi, and were soon on our way to the center of town and a restaurant for dinner.

The restaurant turned out to be a nice café with sidewalk dining.  The dinner was nice and relatively slow in pace as I would expect from most European café’s.  During dinner I did notice that V was a bit on the quiet side and asked what was going on.  Ok, this is where you really need to read up on how many times you must ask a woman what is wrong before you get the answer.  After thirty minutes of coaxing I found out that I had been very quiet for the past hour and she was worried that I had changed my mind about her.  (Ok, big time out here!!  I did not change my mind!).  It seems that I was experiencing some serious jet lag and I had not noticed…but she had.  In the end I was able to convince her that nothing had changed, I was just a bit of a zombie due to the time difference.

We walked back to the apartment (about 2 miles) and spent the remainder of the evening talking and talking and talking…….  She finally left around 2300 and promised to be back the next morning at 1100.  As it turned out, our schedule for the remainder of my time in Nikolayev would be 1100 to 2300 almost to the minute.  Did I say I love a woman that is punctual!!

Day 4 Monday 11 August –  V arrived promptly at 1100 and we decided to take the day a bit on the slow side to avoid “over doing it” with my jet lag and all.  Actually V was worried she was pushing too hard and wanted to take it easy on me. We headed out for our morning coffee and cake at the café and discuss what we would like to do for the day.

We ended up deciding to do a bit of shopping for a bathing suit for V (we would be spending time at the beach in Odessa) and going out of town for dinner at a nice restaurant that had live music.

After breakfast we headed downtown on another small bus and began the shopping adventure.  The shopping was exactly as described in many of the posts I have read, and very similar to what I have been led to expect from previous marriage (much looking and a lot of price comparison).  The big difference here was I really enjoyed myself with V.  One thing to mention, V warned me not to speak for fear the sales people would boost the price if they knew I was an American.  As it turned out, only one of the saleswomen knew I was not Ukrainian.  The other saleswoman started to speak in German thinking that I would not know what they were saying.  I guess she thought I spoke Russian.  The first saleswoman responded in German saying it was not necessary to speak German because I was an American.  I guess she got the American part correct.  I thought about correcting her about my ability to speak German, but decided it would not help the price of the bathing suit.

As it turned out, V found a very nice suit and we were on our way in just over 4 hours…just kidding.  The total time in the shop was less than an hour.  The part about the suit being nice was true however.  I did not get to see the suit until we went to the beach a week later though.

After the shopping we headed back to the apartment to cool off.  We could only spend an hour or so at the apartment before V had to go home to change for dinner.

The restaurant was in the next town and we took a Taxi since the busses did not run on our dinner schedule.  We arrived just before seven and had our pick of seats because we were the first customers that evening.  It appeared that this Monday was not a big day for the restaurant and most of the customers arrived after eight.  The motif was mixed Ukrainian traditional, and there were several dining areas to choose from.  We chose the outside second floor balcony.  The weather that evening was warm and we had a nice breeze to top a perfect setting.  I had tongue and a traditional salad and soup for dinner.  The food was delicious, and the live band was very good.  The music was a mix of traditional and modern music.

The ride back to town was cozy in the cab and we arrived at my place relatively late so V was not able to stay long before she had to go.  The evening had been wonderful, and I was thinking that if things continued as they had, it would easily be the best vacation I have ever had.

Day 5 Tuesday 12 August –  Tuesday arrived and I am still a bit slow in the morning, although I am sleeping longer at night.  I am starting to appreciate V arriving at 1100.  The slow start I am getting in the morning is using up all the extra time I should have.

Today we decided to visit the zoo and do a bit of looking around town.  As it is becoming our custom, V arrives at 1100 and we sit and talk for a bit before heading out.  After we finalized our plans for the day, we headed for the City Center Mall for our coffee and pastry.  This time of day is not yet very hot so the air conditioned mall is not very crowded.  As usual we enjoy our coffee “American” and chat about the zoo.
We took one of those lovely little busses out to the zoo (it is amazing how pleasant a ride in a hot little bus can be when you are with a beautiful woman).  Not too far, just about 10 minutes on the Bus and we were dropped off across the street.  We stopped for the prerequisite photo's at the entrance sculpture.  The entrance fee was reasonable at $4 each and we proceeded to the nearest exhibit once inside.  We spent the next three hours visiting every exhibit and display in the zoo.  As zoo's go I would have to say this one was nice.  There were some areas that could use some TLC, but overall the animals looked well cared for.

We took a mini bus back to V’s apartment where she insisted on feeding me a snack.  Why is it that women always insist on stuffing the man full of food yet never seem to eat themselves?  After I can't eat anymore, V sends me to the living room to relax while she changes clothes.  After a few minutes she is ready and we head over to my apartment and the air conditioned comfort…have I mentioned that the temperature is in the 90’s and my place seems to be the only place in Nikolayev with A/C?  Surprisingly enough, I don't seem to notice that much when I am with V.

After a short walk we arrive at my apartment and settle in to cool off.  V has made arrangements with her son to join us for dinner and leaves after about an hour to bring him to the apartment.  They both arrive about an hour later and after introductions and small talk, we head for a combo restaurant, club, billiards and bowling alley. 

The walk was short, about 20 minutes and it appears to be pretty nice from the outside.  It is 7:30 and the cover does not start until 8:00 so we are in luck.  The club is small but very nice.  It is interesting in that the restaurant is behind the lanes…all 4 of them.

After we are seated V decides I need to be introduced to one of her favorite foods and orders Rake, a local river craw fish.  All three of us spend the next 45 minutes enjoying food conversation and a good Ukrainian beer.  Well actually V’s son ops for ice cream and a soft drink since this is a birthday celebration of sorts for him.  He turns 18 a week after I head back to the States.

After dinner S (V’s son) and I bowl a game and call it a night.  The bowling as I expected was great, and we all had a good laugh at our scores (or lack of scores).  We walked back to my place and said our goodbye to S as he hopped a bus to his Grandmothers apartment.  V and I said our good night and I went up to my apartment and to bed.  Even though it was only 11 PM I was still toast after 3 days.  I slept the entire night without waking and felt worlds better the next morning.


Offline cdrp

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2008, 03:45:40 PM »
Day 4 Monday 11 August –  V arrived promptly at 1100 and we decided to take the day a bit on the slow side to avoid “over doing it” with my jet lag and all.  Actually V was worried she was pushing too hard and wanted to take it easy on me. We headed out for our morning coffee and cake at the café and discuss what we would like to do for the day.

We ended up deciding to do a bit of shopping for a bathing suit for V (we would be spending time at the beach in Odessa) and going out of town for dinner at a nice restaurant that had live music.

After breakfast we headed downtown on another small bus and began the shopping adventure.  The shopping was exactly as described in many of the posts I have read, and very similar to what I have been led to expect from previous marriage (much looking and a lot of price comparison).  The big difference here was I really enjoyed myself with V.  One thing to mention, V warned me not to speak for fear the sales people would boost the price if they knew I was an American.  As it turned out, only one of the saleswomen knew I was not Ukrainian.  The other saleswoman started to speak in German thinking that I would not know what they were saying.  I guess she thought I spoke Russian.  The first saleswoman responded in German saying it was not necessary to speak German because I was an American.  I guess she got the American part correct.  I thought about correcting her about my ability to speak German, but decided it would not help the price of the bathing suit.

As it turned out, V found a very nice suit and we were on our way in just over 4 hours…just kidding.  The total time in the shop was less than an hour.  The part about the suit being nice was true however.  I did not get to see the suit until we went to the beach a week later though.

After the shopping we headed back to the apartment to cool off.  We could only spend an hour or so at the apartment before V had to go home to change for dinner.

The restaurant was in the next town and we took a Taxi since the busses did not run on our dinner schedule.  We arrived just before seven and had our pick of seats because we were the first customers that evening.  It appeared that this Monday was not a big day for the restaurant and most of the customers arrived after eight.  The motif was mixed Ukrainian traditional, and there were several dining areas to choose from.  We chose the outside second floor balcony.  The weather that evening was warm and we had a nice breeze to top a perfect setting.  I had tongue and a traditional salad and soup for dinner.  The food was delicious, and the live band was very good.  The music was a mix of traditional and modern music.

The ride back to town was cozy in the cab and we arrived at my place relatively late so V was not able to stay long before she had to go.  The evening had been wonderful, and I was thinking that if things continued as they had, it would easily be the best vacation I have ever had.

Day 5 Tuesday 12 August –  Tuesday arrived and I am still a bit slow in the morning, although I am sleeping longer at night.  I am starting to appreciate V arriving at 1100.  The slow start I am getting in the morning is using up all the extra time I should have.

Today we decided to visit the zoo and do a bit of looking around town.  As it is becoming our custom, V arrives at 1100 and we sit and talk for a bit before heading out.  After we finalized our plans for the day, we headed for the City Center Mall for our coffee and pastry.  This time of day is not yet very hot so the air conditioned mall is not very crowded.  As usual we enjoy our coffee “American” and chat about the zoo.
We took one of those lovely little busses out to the zoo (it is amazing how pleasant a ride in a hot little bus can be when you are with a beautiful woman).  Not too far, just about 10 minutes on the Bus and we were dropped off across the street.  We stopped for the prerequisite photo’s at the entrance sculpture.  The entrance fee was reasonable at $4 each and we proceeded to the nearest exhibit once inside.  We spent the next three hours visiting every exhibit and display in the zoo.  As zoo’s go I would have to say this one was nice.  There were some areas that could use some TLC, but overall the animals looked well cared for.

We took a mini bus back to V’s apartment where she insisted on feeding me a snack.  Why is it that women always insist on stuffing the man full of food yet never seem to eat themselves?  After I can’t eat anymore, V sends me to the living room to relax while she changes clothes.  After a few minutes she is ready and we head over to my apartment and the air conditioned comfort…have I mentioned that the temperature is in the 90’s and my place seems to be the only place in Nikolayev with A/C?  Surprisingly enough, I don’t seem to notice that much when I am with V.

After a short walk we arrive at my apartment and settle in to cool off.  V has made arrangements with her son to join us for dinner and leaves after about an hour to bring him to the apartment.  They both arrive about an hour later and after introductions and small talk, we head for a combo restaurant, club, billiards and bowling alley. 

The walk was short, about 20 minutes and it appears to be pretty nice from the outside.  It is 7:30 and the cover does not start until 8:00 so we are in luck.  The club is small but very nice.  It is interesting in that the restaurant is behind the lanes…all 4 of them.

After we are seated V decides I need to be introduced to one of her favorite foods and orders Rake, a local river craw fish.  All three of us spend the next 45 minutes enjoying food conversation and a good Ukrainian beer.  Well actually V’s son ops for ice cream and a soft drink since this is a birthday celebration of sorts for him.  He turns 18 a week after I head back to the States.

After dinner S (V’s son) and I bowl a game and call it a night.  The bowling as I expected was great, and we all had a good laugh at our scores (or lack of scores).  We walked back to my place and said our goodbye to S as he hopped a bus to his Grandmothers apartment.  V and I said our good night and I went up to my apartment and to bed.  Even though it was only 11 PM I was still toast after 3 days.  I slept the entire night without waking and felt worlds better the next morning.

Day 5 Wednesday 13 August
– This morning I am beginning to feel human again and am ready to go when V arrives.  Following our morning (noon) coffee at the mall we head down town to the Ship Museum for a tour.  Since Nikolayev was established on a large river leading to the Black Sea, it was only natural that one of the industries would be ship building.  The industry of shipbuilding continues today with Nikolayev maintaining three large shipyards.  The Museum chronicled the industry from the very beginning all the way to present day.  There were many artifacts, models and seafaring related displays.  All in all, a very nice place.

Since we are already downtown, we decide to do some window shopping and take our time getting back.  As we make our way home we naturally walk along the river and check out the restaurants, ships and sights.  The river walk was recently created and is becoming home to an increasing number of tourist friendly sights and shops.  The center piece is a large ground level sculpture of a flower in the center of the walking area.  The sculpture is lit at night and is becoming popular as a stop for wedding parties for photo’s both day and night.

From the river we walked down Admiralskaya street, one of the major thoroughfares  of Nikolayev.  This street has some very nice buildings and of course new construction underway.  I was told it is rapidly becoming one of the most desirable places to live in the city.  I would expect the apartments to be on the pricey side considering the quality of the buildings I saw.  We arrived back at my apartment late in the afternoon and V departed soon after to get ready for dinner.  She pointed out a restaurant along the river earlier in the day and we decided to eat dinner there.

We headed out for dinner around 1900 and decided to take a taxi to the restaurant so we would not risk our nice clothes on the bus.  The ride was short and I was surprised that even though it was still very warm, the driver of the cab would not use the air conditioning (A/C) in the cab.  When V asked, the driver said it uses too much fuel to operate the A/C.  Judging by the length of the ride, I would have been happy to compensate the cabby the extra $0.25 for fuel we would have used.  I resolved to ask for A/C in the future if we ever had an equipped cab again.  As it turned out, I did not see another with A/C.

The restaurant was a very nice specializing in Georgian food.  The staff was very accommodating and worked diligently throughout our visit to ensure we were well taken care of.  We settled in and ordered a couple of glasses of wine while we reviewed the menu.  This is when we discovered that the flowering trees along the river also bred a particular type of fruit fly at the same time.  These flies were everywhere and unfortunately they were attracted by our glasses of wine.  After seeing more than our share of the little devils doing the backstroke in our drinks, our waiter moved us to a private dining room and closed the door.  I really can’t complain, it was romantic and our service did nothing but improve throughout the evening.  Although the flies were an occasional irritation, the staff at the restaurant did everything to make the evening very enjoyable, not to mention the food, which was also very good.  I did tip our waiter, who was truly outstanding, after checking with V that it would be ok to do so.

After dinner we decided to walk home since the temperature had dropped enough to be very comfortable.  It was about 2 miles back to my apartment and we enjoyed the walk taking our time and chatting all the way.  I have to comment on the walk because I would never have agreed to such a journey in any of the large cities I have ever lived in.  Many of the streets we walked were not well lit and appeared to be the perfect place for a mugging.  V assured me that we were perfectly safe, and we did meet the occasional couple on our journey enjoying the same evening.  I am beginning to really enjoy life in Nikolayev.  It is a city that is growing in the right way in an ever prospering environment.  Even though the city has a population of 500,000, it maintains the feel of a friendly village where the people all know each other.  I had yet to experience any difficulty or prejudice of any sort.  We finally arrived back at my place at 2300 and V said goodnight.

Day 6 Thursday 14 August
–  I got up early today because it was time for us to move our vacation to Odessa.  I called the apartment agency and arranged for an 1100 check out and Igor was scheduled to arrive shortly thereafter.  V arrived around 1030 and we began the review and inspection of the apartment to insure I had not overlooked anything prior to leaving.  Igor showed at 1045 and by 1100 the apartment representative had arrived.

We were on the road in Igor’s Volga by 1130 and V and I settled into the back seat for a warm trip to Odessa.  Igor turned out to be a good driver (not like some of the exciting rides we took on the little busses in town) and we soon were nodding off and on as we drove through the farming countryside of Southern Ukraine.

Odessa turned out to be a city with plenty of traffic.  Although thick, we did make relatively good time as we pushed through to the far side where my apartment was located.  We arrived a bit early, but since we called and notified the agency, we were met by the representative when we arrived.  The apartment could best be described as a luxury two bedroom apartment.  The bathroom alone was as big as the living room in my apartment in Nikolayev.  The large two person Jacuzzi tub even had a clear glass side and underwater lighting.  Each bedroom had a wall mounted flat panel TV and the master had a custom walk in closet.  V insisted that I take the master, although her bedroom was just as large.  Both bedrooms had king size beds and there was hardwood flooring throughout.  The living room was outfitted with a large sectional sofa, entertainment system and fireplace.  Needless to say, I was happy with the apartment.  On top of the comfort, we were located centrally in the best part of the city and had an easy walk to much of the sights.

After the check-in I walked over to the agency office with the rep to finalize the paperwork.  The office was located about a block away in a brand new mall style 6 story (Afeena) shopping center similar to the “City Center” V and I frequented in Nikolayev.  The difference here was this one was much larger with well over 100 stores and very much upscale regarding the stores inside.  As with the other this one “Afeena” had a grocery store and restaurants on the bottom floor.

It took me a bit longer to walk back because I did not pay attention to the route I took to walk there, and of course I took the wrong street after leaving the center.  Four blocks later, I arrived at the apartment that was one block away (I told myself I needed the exercise anyway).

After a short discussion, Igor agreed to spend some time with us and would take us back to the Athena Center and join us for a bite to eat.  We headed back to the Afeena mall and proceeded to the cafeteria style restaurant for a late lunch (it was after 1500 by this time).  For the next couple of hours we ate, chatted and enjoyed our first few hours in Odessa.  After we returned to the apartment, I arranged to meet Igor the next day at noon for a walking tour of Odessa.

After Igor departed, V and I decided to head back to the Athena Center and pick up some groceries for breakfast and some snack food for our stay in Odessa.  The grocery store was similar to the one we visited in Nikolayev and we found everything we needed in short order.  We carried our heavily laden bags back to the apartment and settled in for a comfortable evening.

Offline cdrp

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2008, 03:51:27 PM »
Day 7 Friday 15 August – Igor arrived just after 1100 and after a bit of discussion, V decided to forego the walking tour of the city (it was supposed to be in the high 30’s that day) and it would be just Igor and I.

Our first stop out in the city was the open marketplace.  This area has gone through some changes over the years, but other than the fact that most of the vendors have small shops now, still maintains the original atmosphere of an open air market.  Our intent was just to pass through on our way to the waterfront, although we did stop and purchase a large bottle of Kvas and a couple of plastic cups.  This was my first introduction to Kvas and I found the flavor to be similar to other fermented drinks I have tasted in my travels.  I can say however that the flavor of vinegar was very apparent, although surprisingly not all that unpleasant.

We made our way through some very historic and picturesque areas of the city (unfortunately I do not remember the names) including the “Mother-in-Law” bridge.  The story behind the bridge is not one that I remember, although I do recall the fact that this bridge had thousands of paddle locks attached to the railing.  It is supposed to be good luck if you are recently married to engrave your initials on a lock, attach it to the railing, and throw the key away (off the bridge, I would guess).  We eventually made it down to the port of Odessa and headed back up into he city making a big loop back to the apartment.  Our path brought us by the Opera house, through several parks, and through some very picturesque areas of Odessa.  We arrived back at the apartment after four hours of walking around the city.  After a cool drink we said good by to Igor with the promise he would return on Monday for a visit to the Catacombs.

After a cooling off period, V and I headed back to the Athena Canter for dinner and a bit of window shopping.  We ate in the same restaurant we had the day before and discussed our plans for the next couple of days.  After dinner and a bit of window shopping, we headed back to the apartment and called it a day.  I was tired from the walking and heat and V wanted to get ready for the next day.

Day 8 Saturday 16 August
– 0300 Saturday morning, I am up with stomach rumblings.  Something does not feel right and over the next few hours, my discomfort grows to a full fledged stomach flu.  Just what I need in the middle of my trip is to be sidelined in bed with illness.  V of course is absolutely wonderful and takes care of all my needs while I am bed ridden.  She made two trips to the store and one to the pharmacy to get the needed items for my recovery.  As it turned out, my symptoms abated after 12 hours and I am able to make it out for a short walk that evening.  While Saturday was not the most pleasant, I can not be happier that I am with V, as she has been so kind when I was in the worst possible way.  I am not sure, but my stomach may not have tolerated the Kvas so well.  Igor and I ended up going through two large bottles of the stuff on our walk in the heat the day before.

Day 9 Sunday 17 August – Sunday morning brought a good appetite to breakfast.  I was feeling much better and ready to spend some time outside.  That is a good thing considering we were planning on going to go to the beach today.  This will be my first exposure to the Black Sea and I was looking forward to spending some time relaxing with one of those umbrella drinks.

The beach area we were going to happened to be on the other side of the city so we needed to take a taxi rather than a bus.  The ride was just over a half an hour and I will admit that I was pleased that the cab prices are as low as they were.  The beach area was not visible from the place we were dropped although there were so many cars parked in the area I was sure there had to be some sort of beach somewhere.  As it turned out the beach was just a short walk through a wooded area and we popped out onto a paved path that paralleled the beach.  I would have to estimate there was at least 3 miles of beach available when we finally got a good view.

We chose a private area a few minutes walk from the trail to the parking areas.  It seems the beach is broken up into strips about 100 yards wide in this particular area.  Each of these areas are sections of private beach and you must pay to use these beaches.  A friend recommended that I use a private beach due to the amenities and lack of crowding.  The price for access was reasonable, around $5.00 per person and it was another couple of dollars each for a chaise lounge and umbrella.  Each of the beaches have wait staff circulating to bring refreshments and there is a bar in the back to serve customers that choose not to wait.

We changed in the changing rooms after we arrived and then settled in to enjoy the sun (or shade as it was for me).  The temperature was still running into the 90’s so it was a great way to spend a warm day in Odessa.  Since I am not the beach Kahuna, I did take full advantage of the umbrella shade and SPF 50 sun screen.  I also left the swimming to the folks interested in water.  V did spend some time sunning with a short dip, but for the most part enjoyed a slow afternoon with her magazine.  The only interruptions that day on the beach were for a couple of beers to drink with the bag of small shrimp we purchased from the woman walking down the beach selling cooked shrimp fry.  We didn’t bother to change for the trip home and decided it would be easier to head to the beach in our suits on the return trip on Wednesday.  After returning to the apartment V headed to the salon for a wash and set plus a manicure, and I settled in with my book and a bit of music on the radio.

Dinner that evening was light at a sidewalk café near the apartment,  after dinner we decided to head back and make it an early night since we both realized how tired we were from the sun at the beach.

Day 10 Monday 18 August
– At this point I am beginning to like this life…roll out of bed around 0830 and have a cup of coffee with bread,  Ekra, and some sort of sweet cake and perhaps some smoked salmon to top it off.  Today we arranged for Igor to drop by and escort us through the Catacombs of Odessa.

Igor arrived just before 1000 and we picked up a cab to the catacombs just outside the city.  Although it was only about 15 miles from the apartment, it still took over 45 minutes due to the heavy traffic in the city.  Igor would have driven, but he recommended a cab due to the lengthy commute from his place to ours. Not a bad ride to the catacomb, although it was a bit warm, as most rides have been since I had arrived in the Ukraine.

We arrived in a small town just about a mile off the main highway.  After a bit of winding around, finally found the resistance monument at the entrance to the Catacombs.  We met our guide a few minutes later and began our tour. This particular tour was primarily aimed at relating the resistance operations during WWII.  The tour was led by a local that was sell versed in the story and history of the resistance fighters.  The tunnels we visited were primarily a recreation of many of the resistance fighter headquarters, although the area we visited were actually used during the war.  Thanks to Igor’s ability to translate rapidly, I enjoyed the tour without missing any of the tour dialogue and stories.  Although the tour was just over an hour, we only covered a small portion of the catacombs, a very small portion.   I was surprised to learn there are over 3000 km of these tunnels.  It seems there is a huge layer of limestone just below the surface and sometime long ago the locals started mining it for building material.  The guide said that even thought we were only 16km from Odessa, if I were to attempt to take the tunnels (which you could if you were crazy enough…not legal by the way) you would have to travel over 100km to get there.  Apparently the tunnels were not exactly laid out in a neat and organized fashion.

The cab ride back was faster than the ride out and we were wandering the tourist sections of Odessa in no time.  V wanted to pick up something special for dinner the next night so we stopped by the old market on the way.  As it turned out, Monday the market was closed, but never fear, Igor took us around the corner and across the street to the market stands on the sidewalk.  V is looking for Rake, and the market is the best place to get them fresh.  She knew exactly what she wanted, and after just a few minutes of inspecting the many baskets of live Rake, she struck a deal with the woman selling and we had a couple of large bags of the little critters.  After the market we took the cab to the apartment and put up the Rake in the fridge.

It was late in the afternoon by this time and we were all getting hungry.  We decided to go out and find a restaurant for dinner.  Since we were in a nice part of the city there was an abundance of good places to eat nearby.  We decided on a pizza restaurant.  Since I have sampled pizza in at least 20 different countries, I thought it might be nice to see how it is done in Ukraine.  The pizza was very good, similar to the many of the designer pizza they have here in California.  Traditional pizza is also available in Ukraine, but they also have a great variety of  toppings you would not expect on pizza.  I have to say, it is probably much healthier than a traditional pie.  The food was great, and of course Igor had his fruit juice…no Kvas this time, I am still trying to figure out if it was the Kvas that put me in bed.

After dinner we said our goodbye’s and Igor headed home and we went back to the Apartment.

Offline cdrp

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2008, 03:52:58 PM »
Day 11 Tuesday 19 August – Tuesday began as all the others with a leisurely breakfast and small talk about what we were going to do that day.  Since I had not done any souvenir shopping it was decided that we would spend an easy day of shopping and walking the downtown areas of the city. 

We actually finished the souvenir shopping in just a couple of hours, the cash machine on the other hand was a bit more troublesome.  It seems my bank limits my withdrawals to a 24 hour period and I hit my limit during this period.  Not a problem, except that I left the money back at the apartment and I wanted to buy a nice gift for V.  So much for surprises, I explained to her what happened and she gladly walked back with me to pick up the cash.  Too bad many of the shops that accept credit cards don’t know how to deal with an American Master Card, only Master Cards from Ukrainian banks.  All I can say is, it pays to have a back up for any situation.  Never count on any single method of payment.

We survived the afternoon of shopping and headed back to the apartment with a quick stop at the grocery store.  Back at the apartment we began the preparation of the Rakia.  Since I am no cook, V took charge and I did my best to follow directions.  We must have had 10 pounds of the large Crawfish (Rakia), or so it seemed.  At any rate, we consumed every single one of them……

Day 12 Wednesday 20 August
–  Back to the beach again today.  No changing this time as we have worn our suits directly to the beach.  We chose a different piece of beach this time, and we have a few more amenities including a small outdoor restaurant.

Our trip to the beach today was surprisingly similar to the last time we visited the beach.  Well almost, V actually dragged me into the water saying that I just had to experience the Black Sea once.  OK, I dried off and got back into my chaise lounge and continued my enjoyment of my best imitation of a sleeping sloth.  We did sample the fare at the little café/restaurant though.  Not bad food, although we just had a couple of salads and shared a beer.

From this point we had a duplicate afternoon and evening as we did on Sunday.  So I won’t bore you with the details, although I suppose I could have cut and pasted from the previous paragraph.  No, I am much too nice for that.  Besides I am sure you are crying from boredom about now anyway.

Day 13 Thursday 21 August
–  Today we did nothing more than pack, relax and wander the city a bit since it would be my last full day in Ukraine.  Both V and I were feeling a bit melancholy because I would be leaving the next afternoon.  Not much said this day, just a great deal of (dare I say it) hand holding and longing looks into each other’s eyes.

Day 14 Friday 22 August
– Igor and the representative showed about the same time at 1100.  After a short review of the apartment, I received my deposit and  we all proceeded to the Airport to drop me off for my flight home.

V and I had relatively dry departure although the eyes on both of us were a bit moist as I walked through the gate to the check in counter.  Igor would drive V back to Nikolayev while I was flying back to the U.S.

The flight(s) back, were without trouble and I arrived back at San Francisco airport just after midnight on Saturday 23 August.

Epilogue: Well, now you ask, how was it really after the fact.  Since it has been almost 8 weeks, I can honestly say it was way beyond my expectations.  Wonderful can’t even begin to describe how well V and I got along.  There was so much chemistry we could have made plastic from raw petroleum.

It took me exactly five days after I returned until I had another ticket to return in October.  V and I are speaking on the phone twice a day now and cannot wait until we are together again.  I don’t know if you could say this is a bonafide success for the WOVO, but I would say it certainly is a heck of a great start.  Do you have to get married for this to be a success?  We’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we.

Note:  Here is the $1000 question…  In my travel, to and from Odessa, I made a wrong turn somewhere.  If you are a savvy traveler, you just might see where. Can you tell me where I went wrong?  Believe it or not, I did not realize it until I returned to the U.S.  Remember, just because it is a $1000 question, it does not mean you get a payoff if you answer correctly.  Although you do get bragging rights for being the one who saw my mistake.  Oh, and just to be clear, it was literally a wrong turn.

Offline sydneyvontrapp

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2008, 08:58:16 PM »
Hello Don :
    Thank you for the trip report!   It sounds like you had a great time.  Seeing the amount of travel you've done previously; there weren't many surprises.  A woman who is  punctual?  do those two words actually fit in the same sentence? ( woman and  punctual )   Are their any big plans for this trip?
 ( like spending time in Kiev or spending more time with her son ? )  I look forward to your next trip report.

Best of Luck!!!!

Dave M.

Offline cdrp

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2008, 11:15:03 PM »
Thanks for the words Dave,

Big plans?  I would say yes, but I must wait to see how things go.  This trip we will spend time with her son and mother, how much, I can't say.  Her son is attending the University, so he is pretty busy.  I am looking forward to meeting the mother.  Got my fingers crossed.  :-X

Offline sydneyvontrapp

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2008, 12:00:05 AM »
Hello Don :
    I'm not afraid to admit  " I love trip reports ".   I know not everyone finds success in this endeavor.
I've talked to a few of the members from this site.  I have found these people to be interesting and personable.  ( not the stereotype of men with little or no social skills who are looking for a FSU woman because they can't relate to women in their own country )  I have not met anyone from this site yet.

    I do hope you have an eventful trip.  May you get Mom's approval.  I didn't forget how old her son was.  It wouldn't hurt if he liked you.  I don't want to get ahead with too many questions.  I'll just look for your next trip report.  I'm sure you've learned more about each other from all your conversations since returning from your visit.  I tell my wife " without you my life would be empty ".  I never felt that way about my life before I met her.

Have a great time!!

Dave M.

   

Online Markje

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2008, 02:58:16 AM »
What a great story ,

I hope you will live happily ever after but only time will tell :) :)

Good luck to you!
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My first trip to my wife: To Evpatoria!
My road trip to Crimea: Roadtrip to Evpatoria

Offline Olga_Mouse

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2008, 12:05:43 PM »

Note:  Here is the $1000 question…  In my travel, to and from Odessa, I made a wrong turn somewhere.  If you are a savvy traveler, you just might see where. Can you tell me where I went wrong? 

Believe it or not, I did not realize it until I returned to the U.S.  Remember, just because it is a $1000 question, it does not mean you get a payoff if you answer correctly. 

Although you do get bragging rights for being the one who saw my mistake.  Oh, and just to be clear, it was literally a wrong turn.


Hm... Wrong turn?  ???

1) You've mentionned you flew SFO (San Francisco) - Chicago (O'Hare) - (WAW) Warsaw - (ODS) Odessa.

Maybe there was a chance to get a cheaper flight flying directly from SFO to WAW?

Thought Amadeus doesn't show a direct flight available...

2) Another idea... you wrote " I fly for a living!".

Maybe you could have used your miles to get a free ticket (if you have some miled valid on United, they might be valid on LOT as well)?
Leaving Russia is not an emigration, rather an evacuation.

Offline mobyone

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2008, 01:13:43 PM »
OK, Why did you go through passport control and clear customs as a *transit* passenger at Warsaw ? ;)

Offline Manny

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2008, 01:19:36 PM »
OK, Why did you go through passport control and clear customs as a *transit* passenger at Warsaw ? ;)

Because he is an American transiting via the EU en route out of the EU?
Trip Reports: Links to my travels in Russia, Estonia, North Korea, South Korea, China and the US are >>here<<

Look what the American media makes some people believe:
Putin often threatens to strike US with nuclear weapons.

Offline mobyone

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2008, 01:23:57 PM »
OK, Why did you go through passport control and clear customs as a *transit* passenger at Warsaw ? ;)

Because he is an American transiting via the EU en route out of the EU?

Not relevent, Manny, as a *transit* passenger you would not go through passport control, then customs .. TWICE ... EU/ USA citizen - he was a TRANSIT passenger... He didn't NEED to do it... THat's what he remembered ...

Can I have a grand from you, too.... ? ;)

I think you must be having a "blond day" , Manny ...

BTW.. if it wasn't *the* wrong turn the OP was thinking of - it means he made another one, too !! :-o

Offline ECR844

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2008, 01:31:23 PM »
Great TR, "lcdrp,"! I wonder if any of your impressions have changed now that your past your post trip 'euphoria?'
 

Offline cdrp

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2008, 02:14:59 PM »
OK, Why did you go through passport control and clear customs as a *transit* passenger at Warsaw ? ;)
I find it interesting that even as a "so called" experienced traveler that I actually missed the turn at the passport control.  You are correct however, when I cleared the Passport Control, I should have gone straight to security and boarded my plane.  Instead I missed the turn and got caught in another security and Passport Control line.  Essentially I entered and exited Poland in a period of about 30 minutes instead of just being screened and sent to my gate.  As it turns out, I did see the proper door, but mistook it for an aircrew and worker exit, instead of a transit door.  Maybe I was not up to speed due to jet lag? :Zzzzsleep:

Nice catch Moby.

Offline cdrp

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2008, 03:26:02 PM »
Great TR, "lcdrp,"! I wonder if any of your impressions have changed now that your past your post trip 'euphoria?'
 
Fortunately, no paradigm shift, even after eight weeks.  I am very excited about getting back to Nikolayev, and she is just as excited at my pending return. :party0011:


Offline cdrp

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2008, 03:36:47 PM »

Note:  Here is the $1000 question…  In my travel, to and from Odessa, I made a wrong turn somewhere.  If you are a savvy traveler, you just might see where. Can you tell me where I went wrong? 

Believe it or not, I did not realize it until I returned to the U.S.  Remember, just because it is a $1000 question, it does not mean you get a payoff if you answer correctly. 

Although you do get bragging rights for being the one who saw my mistake.  Oh, and just to be clear, it was literally a wrong turn.


Hm... Wrong turn?  ???

1) You've mentioned you flew SFO (San Francisco) - Chicago (O'Hare) - (WAW) Warsaw - (ODS) Odessa.

Maybe there was a chance to get a cheaper flight flying directly from SFO to WAW?

Thought Amadeus doesn't show a direct flight available...

2) Another idea... you wrote " I fly for a living!".

Maybe you could have used your miles to get a free ticket (if you have some miles valid on United, they might be valid on LOT as well)?

Good try, but no.  I did try for a ticket using my United miles, but United will not honor miles for any type of international travel 99% of the time.  If you are actually lucky enough to be able to use miles, you must make your reservations at least 9 months in advance.  This is why I got rid of my United Miles Credit Card. :fighting0025:

Offline Manny

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2008, 03:40:24 PM »
I'm not afraid to admit  " I love trip reports ".     

Me too - its my favourite part of the forum.  :-*
Trip Reports: Links to my travels in Russia, Estonia, North Korea, South Korea, China and the US are >>here<<

Look what the American media makes some people believe:
Putin often threatens to strike US with nuclear weapons.

Offline Nando

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2008, 05:54:00 PM »
Nice trip report.
About the elevator in the building I think I stayed in the same apartment before and avoided it like the plague ;D
Hope everything goes well in your second visit

Offline WestCoast

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #20 on: October 20, 2008, 07:23:04 PM »
Enjoyable report lcdrp.  Well written and concise. 

With all the questions about security at various airports worldwide, did you have any trouble getting your laptop through the security checkpoints?  Did they ask you to turn it on or did they want to inspect it?  What about when you returned to the US?  I ask this because I travel alot and would like to take mine with me. 

Enjoy your next trip.
andrewfi says ''Proximity is almost no guarantee of authority" and "in many cases, distance gives a better picture with less emotional and subjective input."

That means I'm a subject matter expert on all things Russia, Ukraine and UK.

Offline cdrp

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #21 on: October 20, 2008, 09:45:36 PM »
Enjoyable report lcdrp.  Well written and concise. 

With all the questions about security at various airports worldwide, did you have any trouble getting your laptop through the security checkpoints?  Did they ask you to turn it on or did they want to inspect it?  What about when you returned to the US?  I ask this because I travel a lot and would like to take mine with me. 

Enjoy your next trip.
I have heard of customs inspectors wanting to inspect the contents of laptops, but have yet to experience this.  I don't carry any proprietary information on my machines so I don't worry to much about prying eyes. :-X

Offline sydneyvontrapp

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #22 on: October 20, 2008, 09:55:52 PM »
Hello Don :
    I want to take this opportunity to wish you a eventful trip.  You've had some time to step back and examine your relationship to this point.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who sees you have strong feelings for this woman.  when you first appeared on this website; you explained how you were going to approach selecting and finally meeting the woman/women you were interested in.  I'd say you followed your gameplan pretty closely.  I do hope this trip brings you closer to each other.  You won't have the beach to deal with this time out.

Best of Luck.  Have a great time!!

Dave M. 

Offline mobyone

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #23 on: October 21, 2008, 08:36:40 AM »
Nice catch Moby.

What else *do* you expect from the board's resident "pédant"  ;)

 ... I noted it when you originally posted - but I "liked" your TR, and meant to pm you to mention it ... but I thought I'd leave it a while - as being right ALL the time ..... well you know  8)

It's better to make a "booboo" like that - you'll never do it twice ...  and it relieved the "boredom"..

I often do it DELIBERATELY, to kill time and to get out of the airport for a while - if there's a long layover.






Offline mendeleyev

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Re: My First Trip to Ukraine
« Reply #24 on: October 21, 2008, 08:21:34 PM »
Excellent report and thanks for sharing it! 

Regarding that night you were ill, Kvas is a very low level alcohol drink (fermented bread) and I'm guessing that it was consumed warm so that may have agraviated a stomach that was already adjusting to a lot of changes going on in your system and just pushed things "over the top."  Whatever the reason, we're glad you got better quickly.


 

 

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