Scrolling through my Facebook feed, many articles tailored to my interests jump out at me. Most recently one particular article has made a reappearance ‘five countries to avoid in 2016’. Being overseas, and embarrassingly always drawn to click bait articles, I opened it. Amongst some obvious choices like Syria, was Ukraine, a country I was hoping to visit in the next few weeks.
I had been keeping up with the current affairs for the war in Ukraine, as much as our local media in Australia chose to broadcast, and so knew a little about their war.
However, in recent times with terror attacks, Ukraine has been pushed aside and almost forgotten about, painting the image that the war is over.
My impression on the country was it was a war torn country in 2014, but since then it is safe. Both of these images painted by the media were wrong.
Yes, in 2014 the war over Crimea had started, but it wasn’t over. The eastern part of the country is still suffering due to the conflict, and in tern it is still affecting the rest of Ukraine.
Apart from the impact on the economy, the Western side of the country isn’t nearly affected as the East, and it is still safe to travel in. I never thought I would entre a country experiencing war, but here I was crossing the border into Ukraine.
Apart from my perception of the war, I had little knowledge on Ukraine prior to entry (only that they charged Australians a ridiculous amount of a visa!)
Ukraine was an incredibly beautiful and diverse country. It surprised me with its diversity between cities, their architecture and the amazing food. Not once during my 19-day stay did I feel unsafe or like I was in a country being affected by war.
Because of the crisis, many tourists have chosen to boycott the country, apart from Belarusians and Russians we didn’t meet too many other tourists. Locals questioned us if we were scared to be in their country during war, but they were all extremely ecstatic to have us there. In a country that is already cheap to eat and live in, with the fall of their currency it’s made everything extremely cheap for tourists. We ate some of the best food I’ve had on my trip for under $5AUD for two people. Restaurants haven’t been able to raise their prices; other wise locals wouldn’t be able to afford eating out, so meals are almost half the price they usually are for foreigners.
It’s an extremely sad time for the people of Ukraine, and the faces of fallen soldiers around larger cities were a constant reminder that it’s struggling. But don’t let this be an excuse or turn off for visiting this remarkable country. For a place I knew hardly anything about, it quickly became one of my favourite countries.
Top 3 places to visit if you don’t have much time
Lviv, an old European style city is the capital for coffee, entertainment and tourism. Its cobble streets and amazing eateries made it by far my favourite city of my tip.
Kiev, the home of the chicken Kiev, is the capital of Ukraine. It’s diverse, having an old town section with hilly streets and historical buildings, but has many other areas to offer. With open area pubs, islands to sit on with a beer and a bit of an underground feeling too it, I felt a connection to Germany’s Berlin while here.
Odessa, a favourite spot for Ukrainian’s to holiday at, is the countries version of Miami. A wonderfully charming city with a great main drag full of life, with great food and charm. The sea side is full of children and adults enjoying the sun and live music if you’re lucky.