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Rob’s Trip to Ukraine: Tips for Travelers and Russian Bride Seekers

31. December 2009 by Admin 0 Comments

The following article comes from one of our members who went to Ukraine this past summer. Rob H. wanted to share with you his lessons learned with the hopes of giving all our members a more realistic understanding of what to expect on a similar trip. Rob’s destination was Sevastopol, on the Crimean Peninsula, home to some of Ukraine’s more exotic tourist hotspots and world-famous beaches. Enjoy!

 

Long Airplane Ride from Canada

On August 6th, I flew overnight from Toronto to Frankfurt, Germany (7 hours), then after a 90 minute layover, flew 3 hours to Istanbul, Turkey. Then after a 2 hour layover, flew 1.5 hours across the Black Sea to Simferopol, Ukraine. This is the only airport in the entire Crimean peninsula, which sticks out from the southernmost tip of Ukraine into the Black Sea. From Simferopol, it is easy to reach the coastal resort towns of Yalta, Fedosia, and Sevastopol (where I went for 15 days). It is a 1-2 hour car trip, depending on which town. My total travel time was about 17 hours!!

Traveler Tip: Drink plenty of water when traveling on long flights to prevent dehydration and stretch often to keep your blood moving.

Culture Shock

When your members first arrive, it is quite the culture shock and also a language shock, because everything is in Russian of course, and very few people speak English at all. However, many restaurants have English menus and they advertise this. In shops, I just pointed at things and held up 4 fingers if I wanted 4 of something. No problem. Before you go, It is a really good idea to learn as much of the Russian alphabet as possible, because many words are pronounced the same as in English, but you just can`t read it in their Russian alphabet!

Traveler Tip: Investing in a language course before your trip is a good way to learn the basics of Russian. If you don’t have that kind of leisure time, get a basic phrases audio course to listen to on your plane ride over or spend some time watching lessons on YouTube.

What to Do About Money and Cost of Living

There are banks everywhere, where a Canadian or U.S. bank card works to withdraw local currency (Hryvnia – Plural: Hryvni). However, you must contact your bank before you go to have them enable this. Same with credit cards. You must contact your bank before you go or your credit card will not work in Ukraine. Right now the exchange rate is US$1 = 8.4 Hryvni. Credit cards are widely accepted for payment, but debit cards do NOT work in Ukraine, so always carry local currency.

Things are unbelievably cheap in Ukraine, by our standards. There were days when I did not spend $10 all day, for food and drink. It is best not to flash a lot of money around when buying things, as the average income there is about one twentieth of what we make here and the unemployment rate is more than double, so lots of people are poor and desperate. Best not to tempt someone by showing off that you have the equivalent of 3 months’ salary, for them, in your wallet.

Traveler Tip: Do not pull out a large wad of cash in crowded places and do not count your money in public.

Pack Smartly

Do NOT pack currency, or other valuable items like a camera, in checked luggage. Ukrainian Customs will thoroughly go through your luggage. Carry these valuable items in your carry-on bag. Also, make several photocopies of your passport and always carry a copy on your person, as you may be requested to show this at any time by local police just walking down the street. Leave your actual passport and the majority of your cash in a secure place in your accommodations. I usually carried only 300-400 Hryvni ($35-50 U.S.) on my person along with just one credit card.

Traveler Tip: Make sure to arrange for travel and health insurance that is valid in Ukraine before you go. Get phone numbers that can be reached while there for this should the need arise.

Cell Phone Service and Communication Lags

Our cell phones and Blackberry devices work there, but make sure to subscribe to an international data roaming package before you go, or the cost there is just insane. You can easily obtain a local SIM card for your cell phone or Blackberry, to make it super cheap for local calls there.

EVERYONE has a cell phone, as it is extremely cheap. However, text messaging is not at all reliable. I learned that people who I sent a text message to frequently did NOT get it until the following day. I even tried text messaging myself there and would not get the message until the next day. The same can be said for e-mails. I would often text message or e-mail a lady there whom I had met, for example to arrange for a date time and place, but get no reply until the following day. Then, I would find out that she had been eagerly awaiting my invitation and asked me why didn’t I just phone her so I would at least know if she got the message or not.

Traveler Tip: Get a pre-paid or disposable phone while you are there (if available) or rent a cell phone through your agency contact (around $10 per day).

Punctuality is Relative, Not Universal

Women there are NOT as punctual or reliable, as we are here. Your members who go to Ukraine should know this in advance. The reason for this is that NO one has a car; everyone uses public transit, which is not very predictable as far as timing goes. Let your members know, that it is quite normal for their lady to arrive 15-30 minutes late for their agreed meeting time and place for a date. It is a result of the transit system there.

Traveler Tip: Be patient and plan for any changes in your schedule.

My Blue Heaven

The weather in Sevastopol, at the southern tip of the Crimean peninsula, was just amazing. It was a constant 76-82 degrees every day for the entire 15 days that I was there in August. Very little humidity there, right on the Black Sea. It never rained, and in fact there were never even any clouds or wind. This is typical for there at that time of the year, I have learned.

Traveler Tip: Use sunscreen liberally and protect yourself, especially if you don’t usually get much sun. The sun doesn’t “burn” the same in different parts of the world so don’t underestimate its potency.

The Gentleman Gets the Girl

Women in Ukraine are in general quite fascinated and amazed when they meet a man from Canada (or USA). North American tourists are quite rare there, even in the very tourist-popular area that I visited. Ukraine was closed to tourists from North America until just a few years ago. On my dates, the women that I met would just have endless questions. Be VERY patient and always explain things in great detail. Talk slow and expect that she may not totally understand. She may be afraid to ask for further explanation, so speak plainly and without slang as often as possible. Women there are very old fashioned and very proper, really appreciate chivalry, and always dress incredibly well.

A man should always be very clean shaven and dress up for a date. I recall my first date (who I did meet through your site) and she dressed up like an absolute princess when we met: perfect hair, nails, make-up, etc. She looked like she had spent $100 and 4 hours at a spa getting ready and I was very impressed. But then every other woman I met did the same thing!  I also learned that the women there are VERY impressed and flattered when a man tells them to take a taxi to meet him (and of course offers to pay for this). It is very cheap to do this, usually less than 50 Hryvni ($7 U.S.) but remember that this is a lot of money for her and otherwise she will sit on an unreliable bus for maybe 30 minutes to reach the date meeting location.

Traveler Tip: Ask the agency for a referral for a taxi service.

English Skills are Paramount

I do realize that the majority of the women on your web site have quite limited English skills, and that your site does offer excellent translation services for letters, and that many of the women are very quick with translation software (or using an interpreter) in live chats. However, when it comes to the actual live meeting in person, it is VERY difficult if the woman is not at least reasonably fluent in the English language. I would very strongly emphasize, that you should instruct your women members to make every possible effort that they can, to learn English as best that they can. None of the dates that I went on where the woman required an interpreter were of any success. The chemistry connection is just NOT possible with an interpreter there, or at least I could not make this happen, regardless of how attracted the woman and I may have been to each other.

I’m Going Back

A trip to Ukraine is an absolutely amazing and eye-opening experience, for any of your members!  The culture is just soooo very different, and the history is just amazing. One night we had dinner in a 600 year old castle!  Just go and discover it for yourself.  I am definitely going back!

Best regards,
Rob H.


Favorite Pizza Place


Favorite Local Beer


Favorite Restaurant


The Beach


Ukrainian McDonald's


War Memorial


Waterfront Jamaican Disco