Travelling to Ukraine
If you are all about embarking on new journeys of adventure, Ukraine is the place for you. Situated in Eastern Europe, Ukraine is blessed with surreal landscapes, vibrant cities, waterfalls, wine regions and more. It is bordered by numerous countries with the Black Sea to its South. Ukraine is great for budget travellers as it is a relatively cheap country, therefore, you can really get your money’s worth. Kiev, the capital, is ranked as one of the ‘cheapest’ capitals in Europe. Ukrainian culture is a composition of material and spiritual values that have been formed throughout history. The flag of Ukraine is a banner of two equally sized horizontal bands of blue and yellow. It is said that the blue represents the sky, and the yellow symbolises wheat. If you are intrigued by this mysterious country, you can find out more by completing GG Treasure Hunts online Ukraine wanderlust treasure hunt!!
The Tunnel of Love
The Tunnel of Love is a long-arched tunnel of trees, branches and greenery over a section of an industrial railway near Klevan. The track is three to five kilometres in length and is known to be a romantic destination where couples stroll through the magical garden. The train that powers through the green corridor delivers timber to the fibreboard factory at the end of the railway three times a day. During the height of the Cold War, a time wrought with paranoia and secrecy, Soviet forces planted trees alongside the tracks to hide transport of equipment to a nearby military base. The tunnel was relatively unknown to the general public until it became widely popular on social media in 2011. It is one of the most photographed places in Ukraine and you will understand why when you visit! Some say its straight out of a fairy tale and many lovers have got engaged under its arches. Legend says that if you and your beloved come to the Tunnel of Love and sincerely make a wish, it will come true. The best time to visit would be during summer or spring when the trees around reach the peak of their leafiness. However, locals say that it is also beautiful after a heavy snowfall in Winter.
Kamianets – Podilskyi Castle
Located on a giant rock, surrounded by a 40 metres deep Smotrych River Canyon, Kamianets–Podilskyi Castle is one of the most picturesque and well-preserved medieval castles in Ukraine. Originally constructed in the 14th century, the castle is a former Ruthenian – Lithuanian castle and then became a Polish fortress in the historic city of Kamianets–Podilskyi. Its name is attributed to the root word Kamin, which is the Slavic word for stone. Due to its location, the castle is best seen in the morning right before the sunset and at night when they turn on the lights to illuminate the fortress. You could also find an observation deck that overlooks the castle during these periods. One of the best observation decks is the platform right before the castle bridge, where you will be able to get an unmatched panoramic view of the castle and the striking landscape behind it. Depending on the time of year, you should be able to see hot air balloons flying above the fortress before the sunset from the platform. Additionally, booking a guided tour around the castle and its grounds is a wonderful day out. If you’re planning on staying in the area for a few days, the Hostel Svit Hub and the Art House Hostel are very warm and welcoming places to stay.
Kiev also known as Kyiv is the capital and most populous city in Ukraine. It is an important modern centre for industry, education and culture, and is home to impressive architecture, street art and golden dome churches. I would recommend taking the three-hour guided tour of the city by foot or private vehicle. By doing this you will be able to view landmark monuments from the 11th to the 17th century and explore the local streets to get a feel for everyday life and learn about the ancient Kievan Rus civilisation and modern-day Kiev. The most distinctive structure in Kiev is the Motherland Monument, built in 1981. Known locally as ‘Brezhners Daughter’ the monument is a giant titanium statue that celebrates the Soviet Union victory over the Nazi Germany. Towering approximately 62 metres high and visible from various points around Kiev, the statue is of a winged female figure holding a sword aloft. It is a part of the National Museum of the history of Ukraine in the second world war. You can travel up the Motherland Monument, either to the pedestal or to the shield; both options offer fantastic sights, but the shield is definitely more thrilling. Hotels near the monument include the Black Sea Hotel and the Bonapart Hotel.
In 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant near the city of Pripyat in Ukraine exploded. This was caused by a flawed reactor design that was operated with inadequately trained personnel. The resulting steam explosion and fires released at least 5% of the radioactive rector core into the environment. The accident had a major impact on both agricultural and natural ecosystems therefore, most of the residents of Chernobyl and Pripyat were evacuated immediately. Many of the animals and plants in the area have mutated and it is estimated that 4,000 to 27,000 individuals died as a result of the radioactivity. Thirty-five years later, Chernobyl radioactivity is still circulating and the land surrounding the power plant is still contaminated. You can now visit this ghost town on a guided tour, as it was labelled as safe to visit in September 2010. Chernobyl is about a two-hour drive north of Kiev and remember to pre book your tickets and to take precautions. You can find out more about the Chernobyl disaster by watching the hit mini-series ‘Chernobyl’ by HBO.
The Ukrainian Revolution & Crimea
The 2014 Ukrainian Revolution, also known as the Euromaidan Revolution, took place in Ukraine from November 2013 to February 2014. The crisis began when the president Viktor Yanukovich suspended preparations for the implementation of an association with the European Union. The decision sparked mass protests from proponents of the agreement. What started as peaceful protests turned into a series of violent events involving protestors, riot police and unknown shooters. The final death toll from these clashes was 103 protestors and 13 police officers. There were many other gunshot wounds and bodily injuries. Yanukovich was then impeached by the parliament and an interim government was formed with new elections.
Before the country could recover from the revolution, pro-Russian protests emerged from countries of the south east. Russian forces began moving around Ukraine and formally annexed Crimea in March 2014, incorporating the republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol as the 84th and 85th federal subjects of Russia. The status of Crimea is disputed. It is claimed by Ukraine and recognised as Ukrainian by the United Nations and most other countries.
Ukrainians Unique Cuisine
If you are a foodie, you will love it here. Not only will you find quality food in Ukraine, but it’s practically at bargain prices. Ukrainian cuisine is a collection of various cooking traditions accumulated over many years. The cuisine is heavily influenced by the rich dark soils from which its ingredients come from and often involves multiple components. Their national dish is a sweet and sour soup called Borscht; it is made with beetroots, cabbage, garlic and dill, served with a dollop of sour cream and rye bread. Traditionally, every Ukrainian girl learns how to cook Borscht before getting married. Another popular dish is Varenyky, which are dumplings filled with a variety of delicious ingredients such as vegetables, meat, cheese, eggs and mushrooms. These stuffed dumplings are usually shaped into squares or half-moons, boiled or steamed, then drizzled with oil or melted butter and paired with sour cream. Ukraine consists of three major wine-growing regions. The city of Odessa is by far the largest region as it is home to 50% of the country’s vineyards. Ukraine might not be your first holiday choice, but I can tell you now it is totally worth visiting and should be on your bucket list!