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Cycling in Ukraine
Ukraine In A Nutshell
Like a training ground for Russia, Ukraine isn't anywhere near as bad. Yes, the roads are embarrassingly awful but I had a great time in Ukraine. Now, however, might not be the best time to visit for obvious reasons.
When I Went To Ukraine
5th - 14th May 2013
Where I Went
As of August 2014, the UK Foreign Office warns against all travel to Crimea and the east of Ukraine. The rest of the country seems largely unaffected.
Going from south to north, the countryside starts off mildly bumpy and gets flatter the further north you go. Nothing of the scenery in Ukraine will knock your socks off but the public displays of drunkeness will sometimes provide amusing scenes.
Ukraine's Road Quality
Ukraine's roads look like they were scatterbombed some time in the 70s and then just left to rot. They are, to be blunt, shit.
While in Prague I met a young Ukrainian. I told him I would be cycling to Kiev. He laughed in my face and said, "That's stupid. Nobody does that." And he was right. They don't. But this is the biggest thing in your favour. As an oddity the drivers might find you an interesting diversion rather than ploughing into you at seventy miles an hour. I say might. One nearly took me out. Generally though, away from the big cities, traffic was light.
Ukraine's Accommodation & Costs
It's hard to give a guide price for Ukraine. On my first day there I got the cheapest room of the entire trip for €8. On the other hand, I struggled to find any room at all in Kiev and when I did it was €52. The other four hotels I stayed at ranged from €22 to €28.
Food was cheap and usually very tasty. Beer could be had for less than €1 per pint outside of Kiev.
As you can probably sense from what's happening at the moment, there's a section of Ukraine's population that's very pro-Russia and another that feels the opposite. Therefore, attempting a few words in Russian might be worse than nothing at all. I got one snotty look from a checkout girl when I tried some Russki but maybe she had the 'dekoratori' in. Everyone else seemed fine with it.
It would really, really help you if you learnt the Cyrilic alphabet or at least took a cheat sheet. It's surprising how many words that look like Martian make some sort of sense when you just translate the letters. It's also a good idea to learn a few generic foody words - like chicken, soup, potato, etc. - if you plan to eat in restaurants. And you should. The food was always tasty and very cheap.
Reasons To Go To Ukraine
The 'Russian' experience, cheap, tasty food, giveaway beer, very friendly people (well, the ones I met anyway).
Your Opinions & Questions
Have you cycled in Ukraine? Tell me what you think and I'll include your comments here. Also, if you have a blog, web site or Facebook page that includes an account of your trip, send me the URL and I'll include a link below. Include your name if you want your comment to be attributed to you. Or do you have a question about Ukraine? Ask me and if I can answer it I'll add the information to the page.
Amazon Reviews for
No Place Like Home,
"...by far the best cycle-based travel book I have read."
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"Thought-provoking and funny"
"Very useful website. I love it."
(Marianne, UniCycle50 comment)
"Sweet website, super layout, very clean."
(Anon, UniCycle50 comment)
"Love your descriptions of European food!"
"This is great. There needs to be one for the whole world. Loved your descriptions of the UK and Russia!"
"Very good website."
"This looks great."
"Love the site."
(theDaveB, CTC Forum)