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Kyiv Virtual Tour guide report

I wanted to do a quick report on a virtual tour I took 2 weeks ago with Ekateryna Prokhorchuk. Before the war she was a tour guide in Kyiv but now moves between Budapest and Kyiv (depending on how long she can stand having her two sons in Kyiv with bombing).

I knew nothing about Kyiv but she walked me through video (and Google street view) of the areas she would lead her normal live tours in, along with the information she would normally be sharing. But what I really liked is that, since it was only me, we could intersperse conversation about life right now (she was actually back in Kyiv when I did mine).

She has no set price - just by donation through PayPal. She was such an engaging and open person to talk with that I would absolutely take a live tour with her if possible and I have no qualms about recommending her for a virtual tour. I know lots of us took virtual tours during Covid (I took 6 or 7, most of which were 5-10 people in size). With this being just me, the interaction was significantly better than any others I did - plus it was a way for me to help a real person with a regular family who (both husband and wife) are struggling with the ongoing war and no income. All while gaining more knowledge myself.

I had success just emailing her here: ekateryna.prokhorchuk@gmail.com but you can also fill out your contact info here: https://yourkievguide.com/support-ukraine-book-virtual-tour-kyiv/ (plus it tells a bit more about the process). Feel free to message me if you have questions.

Posted by
3146 posts

Thanks for this info, TexasTravelMom. Do you think this would be appropriate for our Virtual Travel Group meeting one month?

I would be willing to host a session with her and donate to learn more about Kyiv and Ukraine. I wonder if others would be interested in joining online as a small group, on a donation basis.

Posted by
2282 posts

Oh CWsocial, I think she would be wonderful! What a great idea! You might decide ahead of time whether you want to focus on current situation or just the tour through old Kyiv, though. Or how much of either.

Posted by
1191 posts

CW, this is a wonderful idea!
I would be happy to chip in to a donation and I bet that others would as well.

Posted by
14200 posts

CWSocial, you might read this before you start, just to get come context. https://blog.ricksteves.com/cameron/2022/02/kyiv-hope/ Just like any other tour it always makes sense to do some research to get the most out of it.

In 2016 in a fit of boredom I started watching NetFlix documentaries. Two days after seeing this, I was on my first flight to Kyiv and have been returning ever since. It's a marvelous place; all of Ukraine. https://www.netflix.com/title/80031666

If you do the event and If it moves you in any way, it might not hurt to look for other ways to reach out or provide passive support by dealing with travel companies that provide support. The list of who has chosen to become involved includes most every major brand and name: Marriott, AirBnb, Uber, Holland America, TripAdvisor, Deutsche Bahn, Air France, Beachcomber Tours , Go Cruise & Travel, Intrepid Travel, United Airlines, Wizz Air, Accor, Carnival Corporation, the European Travel Commission, InterContinental Hotels Group, Hilton, MSC Cruises, AMAWaterways; and the list goes on and on. It’s harder to find a hotel or transportation or tour provider that isn’t helping than one that is.

RS has this:
https://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/russia-ukraine/

Posted by
3146 posts

TexasTravelMom, thanks for the suggestions! I sent a message to Ekateryna through her website and will let you know as our connection progresses.

SharYn, terrific, thanks for your interest, which gives me further encouragement to move forward. If things progress, I will publish a group announcement with the details.

James E, thank you for the resources. It's perfect timing as my parents have Netflix and I'm at their house for a few more days. And I hadn't previously seen the 2 blogs.

Posted by
3146 posts

This is a wonderful article that you pointed me (us) to, James E:
https://blog.ricksteves.com/cameron/2022/02/kyiv-hope/

So poignant how the "People’s Friendship Arch" - a gift from Moscow to the people of Ukraine - has become the "Arch of Freedom of the Ukrainian People." And the statue depicting "two workers: one Russian, the other Ukrainian" has come down.

Excellent materials for a better understanding of a history which, like Cameron, I admit I knew very little about.

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14200 posts

On that first trip I felt like I was standing in the center of one of the most profound historical events in my lifetime. It has only been six years now, but with each return the progress and change has reflected well on the people of Ukraine. If you want to earn your PhD in “Travel and a Political Act” you have to spend time in Ukraine. https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/read/articles/10-tips-for-traveling-as-a-political-act

I met a gentleman on my first trip to Kyiv that said Gorbachev gave us our independence, but Putin made us a Nation; and as an outsider looking in there appears to be a lot of truth to that.

I want to say that no other minority group in the Soviet Union was driven back harder, tortured more, and suffered the efforts of rewriting their identity. I want to say no other, but I know the same has gone on and continues to go on across Russia.

Some more background work and topics to ask about on your virtual tour:
2014 EuroMaidan (the documentary on Netflix)
At least one Episode of “Servant of the People” staring Zelenskiy for the sole purpose of seeing the society as it was before the war. Normal, European and some of it may remind the older generation of 1960’s Italy. Also on Netflix
The Tatars of Crimea: https://theconversation.com/why-crimean-tatars-are-fearful-as-russia-invades-ukraine-178396
Holodomor: https://holodomormuseum.org.ua/en/the-history-of-the-holodomor/

Mr. Webmaster, I beg your indulgence….

Posted by
2282 posts

Well, we are all the time asking for books and movies to help us understand other countries, so makes sense to have some resources for Ukraine.

But on an even simpler level, I hate to admit a pretty high level of ignorance of the beauty of Kyiv as a city before my tour.

Posted by
3146 posts

Well, I can't say that I've earned my PhD, but I've at least taken a class tonight by watching the Netflix documentary "Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom." It makes the current war that much more heartbreaking, after all they did to win their independence.

Ekateryna has replied and I hope to gauge interest and set up a virtual tour soon.

Posted by
14200 posts

I guess you are trying to see how many from the forum you can get on the same virtual tour? Sign me up I guess (that's 3? we can do better). ..
Someone should invite Rick and our friendly webmaster.

And if anyone wants links to Ukrainian official information services to follow what is going on and how people are coping, PM me (I think the Webmaster would prefer it that way). ...

Posted by
3146 posts

I'll share the virtual tour idea with my travel group when we meet virtually next Saturday, July 23, with the idea of inviting her as a guest to one of our meetings.

I've asked Ekateryna about her availability and will pick a date and publish it as a travel group announcement.

Our virtual meetings are always open to, and attended by, forum members anywhere. At the same time, I want to be cautious that I do not cross a line of propriety for forum use.

Thoughts on that are welcome, including from the webmaster.

Posted by
3146 posts

Someone should invite Rick and our friendly webmaster.

I'll email our friendly webmaster and check on this concept to make sure I'm staying within forum bounds. Tomorrow.... it's 2am!

Posted by
3146 posts

Good news! I e-mailed the Webmaster and he has approved having Ekateryna join one of our Travel Group meetings to give us a virtual tour of Kyiv!

Now, I need to sort out the technology aspect. Unless I can solve bandwidth issues, we may have to participate in small groups, no more than 4 or 5. We'll see if hosting the meeting on our end allows more, or if the restriction is on her end.

Please watch for the usual East Bay (SF Area) Travel Group meeting announcements for details.

Posted by
2282 posts

Yay! And while it may be harder to organize, small groups do make asking questions easier.

Posted by
3146 posts

Excellent point and I may just organize it that way.

Posted by
227 posts

Hi. I would love to have her give a virtual tour on Kviv to our travel group. That’s a great idea! I’d be happy to chip in to a donation.

Posted by
3146 posts

Excellent, Valerie and TexasTravelMom! By the end of this week, I hope to pick a date for a small group event. If there is interest, I can schedule more, and people can also get in touch with Ekateryna and schedule with her directly.

Posted by
2282 posts

CSsocial, thanks for all your work on setting up a virtual tour for the group!

If anyone wants to join one a little later, I am also happy to set one up and host. :) Ekateryna has recommended no more than 4-5 as a good number at one time.

Posted by
3146 posts

We had a wonderful "Highlights of Kyiv" virtual 75 minute tour with Ekateryna this morning. We saw lovely architecture, landscapes of Kyiv, some whimsical street art and the poignant "Arch of Freedom of the Ukrainian People." And we learned a bit about the history of the city.

Katya is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide, very easy to listen to, and has obviously spent time organizing a virtual tour that served during COVID times and serves now in this time of war.

Thank you TexasTravelMom and James E for your reports!

Posted by
9115 posts

I did the “tour” with CW Social and it was very interesting. Seeing Kyiv through the photos makes me want to go there when it’s safe.

Posted by
3146 posts

I'm scheduling the Ukrainian Folk and Traditions virtual tour with Ekateryna and really looking forward to it! If anyone else is interested, send me a message ... this Monday, August 22 at 11am PT. We've got room for 2 or possibly 3 more people.

Posted by
14200 posts

CW. About 3 weeks ago I had the distinct pleasure of meeting your guide. I can honestly and truthfully say, with absolutely no exaggeration, that I have met no person finer or deserving of admiration.

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9115 posts

Just a heads up to anyone wanting to do a tour with her, and I do recommend doing one. I got my credit card bill the other day and I noticed that there was a cash advance. Since I’ve never taken a cash advance, which also incurred a $15 fee plus interest on the advance, I scoured my bill and saw the only thing that matched the advance dollar amount was the money I sent to Ekateryna via Pay Pal. I called my cc company and they referred me to Pay Pal. Apparently if you are paying an individual as opposed to paying for a product it is considered a cash advance. They gave me a $15 credit and it wasn’t worth hassling over the interest. I just want people to know this ahead of time.

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2282 posts

Arg, Andrea, I hate that. I HATE making phone calls to sort things out…..

However for accuracy for anyone else reading, it depends on how your PayPal account is set up (and of course, your comfort level with how it is set up). Blanket statement: Anything you use a credit card for via PayPal incurs fees of some kind, no matter what you do.

My account links to my bank account (I have been using PayPal for at least 10 years personally and probably that long with a work account and never had an issue with security) and I can pay anyone Friends and Family with no fees at all (but you have to choose that instead of sending “payment for a service”). Occasionally I wind up with a balance in my Paypal account after someone sends me money and I can choose to use that balance instead of drawing from my checking account, also with no fees. I now link it to my online CapOne 360 for travel that never has a lot of money in it but I certainly didn’t start that way.

I have had people send me money via credit card on PayPal - and the fee for that is not insignificant. However it just deducted the fee from what PayPal sent me - did not add fees on their end.

As a PayPal aside, I have used it as a fallback for other international purchases (I think my first was Renfe tickets in 2016 after advice from the Forum) and most recently something last month I was buying while in Scotland, when my credit card either wasn’t working or I needed that stupid code via text. You certainly couldn’t say the exchange rate is fabulous, but it is really useful upon occasion.

Posted by
3146 posts

Andrea, this is a good heads up, thank you.

I paid Ekateryna through PayPal from my checking account, so I did not incur fees. And I've paid many times using PayPal from my credit card, but always to businesses, so again, no "cash advance" fee.

It wouldn't have occurred to me that paying an individual through PayPal from my credit card would be billed as a cash advance, though it makes sense now that you say it. Thanks again.