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Lviv and/or Kiev, Ukraine

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Hi everyone,

Being that I have already traveled for 3 months, I am low on energy, funds and time (because the weather is now changing). However, I love traveling and being that Lviv and Kiev are a little far from my location, I just want to make sure that I have received enough input before I make a decision.

Ukraine is not one of those places that most travelers visit (like France, Italy, Czech Republic). So, I can't just invite people for coffee and listen to their impressions. Moreover, this may surprise you guys, but there isn't really much travel material on Ukraine. Fodor's and Yahoo! Travel, for example, have minimal information on this country. Long story short, I am sorry to ask you so many questions, but I do not have a lot of options available to me. So, I am hoping that you are willing to offer me your input.

Regarding Lviv:

1. How recently were you there?

2. Are the tourist facilities relatively efficient over there?

3. Are there a fair amount of tourists over there?

4. Is it relatively easy to get around and see the sights?

5. Are most of the buildings well preserved or are they decaying?

6. Is the poverty in Lviv minimal, or is the poverty 'in your face' so to speak?

Regarding Kiev:

Do you think Kiev is a place that is impressive from a sightseeing and architectural perspective, as well as impressive in terms of its people and history? Or, do you think that Kiev is mainly/predominately impressive for its history (Orange Revolution, Slavic movement, etc.) and people-rather than its architecture?

Again, thank you for your time. I really do appreciate your effort and input.

Charlie

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    Charlie, I normally wouldn't respond on a thread about a country I haven't visited. I was curious though since you almost never see Ukraine in the title of a thread here.

    I know that there are only only a tiny handful of people here who've gone to Ukraine (and there you have the reason why it's never discussed). Interests on this board have expanded in the last few years, but not quite that far yet.

    Two reasons for my posting. One would be that as long as we can keep it near the top, the better chance that one of that handful will see it before it gets pushed down the left hand column by questions about purses and shoes. :)

    Second reason was to ask if you were familiar with Lonely Planet and/or Rough Guides? If not, both are budget minded guide books that also have quite a few mid-range references. Has a few high-end choices on sleeping and eating, but not many. Better though is that they specialize in parts of the world that other guide book companies aren't interested in (yet). Before we went to Romania, I also found very little mentioned here - just a handful of past visitors. But I found a lot of info in LP and RG books. I know LP has a book on Ukraine, not sure about RG. Also Lonely Planet has a online forum. I don't care for the format that much, but it does cater to younger, budget minded travelers that look for more unusual places to visit. They also tend to longer, more free form traveling. Their URL is http://thorntree/lonelyplanet.com

    And come back and share something on Ukraine, will you? As you can see, we could use the insight on a few places.

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    I have not been to the Ukraine but I just read this in the SF Chronicle "Follow the Reader Column:
    Exploring Ukraine from Lviv apartment
    With the recent release of the Liev Schrieber movie, "Everything is Illuminated," which takes place in Ukraine, I want to recommend a couple who rents apartments in the city of Lviv, in the western part of the country.

    I spent two memorable weeks in Ukraine this summer and fell in love with Lviv, which escaped damage during World War II and has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

    Hospitality industry standards are uneven following the fall of communism, so we found staying in private apartments a better alternative.

    We rented a one-bedroom apartment with a rollaway couch near the University of Lviv for only $50 a night. It was clean, safe and quiet, and it had hot water throughout the day, a washing machine, stove, refrigerator and television.

    The apartment was across the street from Ivano-Franko Park. The owners, a young couple who speak some English, renovated it and also have others to rent.

    Contact: Taras Kyryk, Gvardiyfka 12 Apartment 2, 79012 Lviv, Ukraine. 011-38-032-238-61-93, tarask@club.lviv.ua.


    KATHLEEN OTTAVIANO
    Walnut Creek "

    Sounds like a good place to go.



    "

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    Charlie -- I visted Kiev for 3 or 4 nights a couple of years ago with my husband who is Ukranian and incidentally is in Ukraine now, so I can't ask him to help with your questions.

    It was my first trip to Kiev then and we saw several interesting sights in the couple of days we were there...

    I do remember visiting a couple of cathedrals, St. Sophia and St. Michael, a monastery, a cobble-stoned street lined with artists and crafts -- Kiev's Montmartre. Though I am not an architecture buff and cannot provide details, I can say that the architecture of these places was visually interesting and unlike architecture I've seen in other countries...the colors are so brilliant. You will probably enjoy a tour regarding the icons in the cathedrals as well.

    I also remember taking walks along the Dniper (very romantic) and hanging out in the square where the locals congregate at night.

    One other impression I was left with, from a cultural perspective, was the apparent lack of a middle class. I saw people who looked extremely wealthy (beautiful people in designer clothes and designer cars) next to those who appeared to have very little, and no one in between.

    We ate at some wonderful restaurants for very little. Like others have mentioned, we stayed in an apartment instead of a hotel. It was a small, but nice and clean efficiency in a great part of town for $35 US per night.

    I have not visited Lviv. After Kiev we went on to Sebastopol (a medium-sized town/city where my husband is from) that was home to the Russian Black Sea fleet in Soviet times. From this area in Crimea we visited some former Czarist era palaces, most notable one from an American perspective was in Yalta and was where Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill held a summit to discuss post World War II strategies.

    That was pretty much the extent of our more cultural visits. We also spent a great deal of time hiking and camping in the Black Sea area -- natural scenery was stunning, though quite littered in some areas...

    Hope this helps some...

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