A few years ago, a Ukrainian presidential candidate named Viktor Yushchenko was apparently poisoned by his opponent a few weeks before the election. With the whole world watching, his handsome face devolved into something, well, not so handsome. He lived, though, and soon lost a run-off election that the Ukrainian people knew he should have won. Suspecting that something fishy was afoot, nearly a million people peacefully took to the streets in a protest that’s now known as the Orange Revolution. In the end, thanks to the international attention the protesters brought to the issue, Yushchenko was inaugurated as president.
It goes without saying, then, that Ukraine is a place with some pretty interesting history (as well as some fairly significant corruption problems). It’s also a place full of stunning castles, beautiful public squares and lively (if scantily clad–particularly the women…) people. Ukraine’s not quite on the tourist map yet, so now would be a great time to visit. Sights like the castle in Kamyenets-Podilsky and the churches in Lviv are so amazing that there’s no way they can remain undiscovered for long.
Blog Entries We Wrote
To see all the blog entries we wrote about this country, please click HERE.
Pictures We Took
To see some of the pictures we took in this country, please click HERE.
Cities/Areas We Visited
- Kamyanets-Podilsky (July 26-27, 2008)
- Lviv (July 27-29, 2008)
Places We Stayed
- Taras Bylba Hotel (July 26-27, 2008): We thought that all of the hotels in the Old Town were booked until Derek stumbled into this one by chance. It’s brand new (and so not in the guidebooks yet), which was great for us, in that (at $70) it was certainly more affordable than it will be in a few years. It was clean, comfortable and incredibly centrally located. The staff was wonderful; one guy even got in our car to help us navigate through town and then led us through the pouring rain to the nearby castle.
- Hotel Wien (July 27-29, 2008): This was the first hotel we looked at. We left because (at about $120 a night) we thought it was too expensive. We then visited countless other hotels that were more expensive and not as nice, so we ended up right back here. The location couldn’t be better–it’s right on the square in the middle of town. The rooms (we had two, one huge, one smaller) were nice, and they had free broadband internet in the lobby.
Places We Ate
- New York Street Pizza: This casual, inexpensive place was surprisingly good, which explains the hordes of local kids here. We got a crepe and chicken wings, both of which were tasty. And we also ordered a piece of veggie lasagna that was so good that we can’t wait to try to replicate it at home. (It involved dill! Mmmm…)
- Sushi Restaurant with an indecipherable name: Shanna’s cravings for sushi are second only to her pangs for Tex-Mex, so she demanded that we come here on our first night in town. Every table was full, so it took a long time for our food to arrive, but we really liked the stuff that finally arrived at our table.
- Videnska Kavyarnya Restaurant: We had a good (if random!) meal of smoked salmon, gazpacho and borscht (a Ukranian beet soup) at this sidewalk cafe.
- Amadeus: This fancy-ish place seemed to cater mostly to business travelers. Derek liked his chicken kiev (you have to order that when you’re in the Ukraine, right?) and pierogis. Shanna’s quail with raspberry sauce wasn’t all that good.
Things We Did
- Visited the stunning castle–sure to be a major tourist hot spot sometime soon
- Practiced our archery skills inside the castle courtyard
- Visited some amazing churches, including the beautiful Armenian Church, which is full of interesting frescoes
- Toured the city sights with our informative guide, Oleksandr
- Watched the end of a Rally Car Race
- Capital City: Kyiv
- Currency: Hryvnia
- Exchange Rate: 4.7 Hryvnia to $1