A Series Of Notes From The Ukraine

Arrival and travel

When you arrive at Kiev International airport, clutching your immigration visa, one of the first impressions will be of the line of passport control booths staffed by very serious looking people in military uniforms. Do not lose this document! Once through (and it can take a while) and you have your luggage, you will be besieged by taxi drivers. Mostly very friendly, but you might want to haggle over the fee they quote you.

Most probably you will first stay in Kiev, before traveling on. Really there are two Ukraine’s, Kiev and the rest of the country. Kiev is a thriving, cosmopolitan and very beautiful city, though by Ukraine standards it’s quite expensive. You can expect to pay roughly twice as much in Kiev, as you will do for the same purchase elsewhere in the country.

How will you travel? The railway infrastructure is very good, thanks to the investments made during the period of the Former Soviet Union. The road net-works are also extensive and the roads are possibly the straightest in Europe.

Trains. There is basically a choice between not very fast trains Invest in Ukraine and very slow trains. The rail network is aging and as with so much in The Ukraine is really in need of serious investment.

The roads. There are not so many motorways/freeways, or autobahns in the Ukraine. You will find dual lane roads here and there, but they are incredibly straight, even the Romans would be impressed! Beware of potholes or worse on minor roads; well actually try to avoid minor roads. In general the more important roads are being maintained and in fact the government seems to be trying to upgrade many of the major link roads.

Car hire. It’s quite expensive by European and American standards.

IF you are renting a car, beware of three things. Ukraine drivers, bad roads and the road police. Look out for big new and expensive looking cars, they own the road. Whilst you must at all times carry the car documents. Never leave them in the car! If the car is stolen you could be asked for its full value!! Minor roads are only for those seeking adventure, they are to say the least interesting and you can find potholes big enough to park in! Ukraine speed laws and traffic police. If you see a speed limit sign, obey it. Yes the road may well be straight and fast, but the chances are their will be a huddle of houses, often out of view. There is a high chance that the road police will be there with a speed gun and they will stop you. They are in general both courteous and polite, but it can be expensive,

Hotels. There seem to be two types of hotels in The Ukraine. Modern (or restored) efficient and well priced ones say $40 a night and hotels that seem not to have changed since the days of the Former Soviet Union. Some of these hotels seem, for what they are very expensive and really these hotels are for the adventurous and hardy. If you like driving the minor roads? Then these hotels can top your day. Take a camera! Only the very large cities have 4 or 5 star hotels and of course Kiev has many.

Whilst The Ukraine is a very large country by European standards the scenery is quite similar in most parts, largely flat and agricultural, although trees seem to love both the soil and the climate. The Ukraine is very rich in beautiful trees. The country is also blessed with very rich and productive soil and farmland, although much of it seems not to be worked. It is as if most of the countryside has been left in fallow and for many years.


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