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Ukraine: Kalachivka, Petrivs'k, and Maloiaroclavets' Pershyi

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My wife and I (in our 60's but young at heart, active, and adventurous) are planning a trip next May to Kalachivka, Petrivs'k, and Maloiaroclavets' Pershyi (all in Ukraine) to see where her mother came from. They are very small villages, northwest of Odessa, near the Moldova border. The nearest somewhat larger towns are Tarutyne, Ukraine and Bessarabka, Moldova.

Arrangements for much of the trip will be with a group that organizes trips for people of Beassarabian ancestry and we will likely have an interpreter/driver. They are looking into the possibility of arranging a short homestay for us.

However, we're usually totally independent travellers, so are interested in finding out some things on our own.

Does anyone have any hints of things we should see and do while in Odessa, while driving to the towns above, or when at the villages?

Is there anything nearby in Moldova that we should see? Are Americans able to cross the Ukraine/Moldova border at Bessarabka, Moldova?

If we arrange a homestay, what sort of gifts are likely to be appreciated in addition to the normal payment both at the homestay and other places where they may be appropriate?

What are some of the cultural things we should be aware of (do's and don't's)?

Any thoughts, advice, etc. about any of it will be highly appreciated.

(And yes, we do realize that it seems to be a very poor subsistence agriculture area)

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