Please sign in to post.

Ukraine

I had an earlier post, but now have some updates.

As this tends to be a controversial issue, out of respect for the RS forum and in an effort to prevent this from being taken down, comment all you want on the topic (but the topic does not include discussing the war if you dont mind) but PM me if you have serious questions or if you want some more information so you can make informed comments.

I have a visit I designed and the guide can accommodate up to 5. I am posting here to: find a way to share the cost and provide some comfort in numbers which I think is the purpose of this RS forum category. I have two interested parties at present. I suspect only 1 of the 2 will go forward because of timing and dates. The guide is selling this, not me.

Date:

Still flexible. The interested parties will decide when it is comfortable for the group to go. I suspect late March to late April. We travel with about 3 weeks notice.

Form:

Fully guided and escorted by a Ukrainian licensed guide who has traveled the same route on a number of occasions since February of last year.
I suspect we will spend some time with a local family or two and maybe get some home cooking.
I have asked the guide to make it 50% sites (historical and current importance) and 50% culture and spending time with people in the places we visit.
Still, it's a substantial trip. A lot of walking and a couple of long overnight train rides. Traveling light will be helpful. If you do this as a part of a longer trip I can arrange luggage storage in Budapest.

Itinerary (rough as things can change quickly, but in general):

Saturday: We meet in Budapest for dinner and discuss the days to come. Why Budapest, the crossings from Poland are the principal crossings for supplies right now and as a result are a bit chaotic. The Hungarian border is more manageable.

Sunday: Private transfer to the Ukrainian border where we are met by the guide/escort. Overnight train to Kyiv with two bed compartments.

Monday: Full day guided visit of Kyiv. Four Star hotel near Maidan which we keep for the duration of the time in Kyiv.

Tuesday: Full day guided visit outside of Kyiv.

Wednesday: Full day guided visit of Kyiv.

Thursday: Full day guided visit outside of Kyiv.

Friday: Half day guided visit of Kyiv (this is a large city with a lot to take in, so it will not be boring). Night train to the Hungarian border.

Saturday: Private transfer to Budapest. We should be in Budapest by late afternoon.

Sunday: Departure day (or hang around Budapest).

Cost:

Independently, by myself, it's a bit of a stretch, but with four it is amazingly affordable because 75% of the cost is in the guide. PM and I will give you the numbers.

UPDATE
*So far the interest is:
3 RS Members
1 Travel Writer (fascinating individual)

Still room for one more solid and one on standby.

Odds are 2 RS members with a very high likelihood and the travel writer with a very high likelihood.

So I think we have a quorum

Date is still anyone's guess, but my hope would be Friday, 14 April through Friday, 21 April as that would put us in Kyiv for Orthodox Easter Sunday and Mass. But any date after 1 April, if conditions permit, would be fine with me.*

Posted by
992 posts

Putin and the Russian army are still bombing and destroying Ukraine. I heard Kiev was being bombed or missiles were being exploded in Kiev. 20 years from now Ukraine will probably be safe. Maybe in ten years it will be safe. Or maybe in 60 years it still won't be safe. The war in Bosnia-Serbia-Croatia-Kosovo seems to have ended and those countries are safe now. The war in Korea technically never ended; North Korea is off limits but you can go to South Korea. World Wat II ended; Germany is safe enough now; or maybe people from arab countries who got brainwashed to hate Israel and Jews are moving to Europe and making it unsafe for Jews again; I was raised Jewish. I guess I have a lifetime increased chance of getting killed or assaulted compared to you; I still traveled to Europe 6 times but I wouldn't go to a war zone. I would be fine with going to Germany.

Are you sure that Ukraine will require a guide? Why would Ukraine require a guide? I went to Spain without a guide. I went to Lithuania for a Yiddish class I got college credit for, in August 2005. I walked in Vilnius alone.

Posted by
18302 posts

Good G-d, wow, you are all over, relax, and I will respond to the on topic comments:

Ukraine Guide: On topic, excellent and for a couple of reasons:
1) In the East I have been to Czech Rep, russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia and Albania; sometimes without guides, sometimes with guides …. never about “need”.
2) I have found it helpful on past trips to Ukraine to have a guide for language issues, transportation and for the information they impart (usually just half day tours about half the days I am there) never would have found the ultralight flights in Odesa any other way and that will be a highpoint of my travels last year.
3) On this trip, given the confusion in the country and the changing circumstances I think a guide that understands the news on the tv and radio and has the air raid app on their phone and knows where the support facilities are locared and knows the ins and outs of life recently is just good judgment.

Safety, one of the details I suggest those interested in the idea PM me for discussion to prevent the thread going sideways.

Posted by
727 posts

Of all the people I see on RS forum, you're one of the people who seem to have the most experience on that part of the continent. So, something you haven't mentioned is WHY now & why the Ukraine? Please let us know how it goes! I hope this thread isn't taken down, I'm fascinated.

Posted by
15897 posts

I'd agree that you're likely one of very few on these forums who know the country well enough to organize - or even consider - a trip to Ukraine at this point in time. I do have a question, and please don't yell at me 'cause I'm genuinely curious. How does it work with insurance if the US Department has issued a Level 4 "Do Not travel" advisory for the entire country?

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/ukraine-travel-advisory.html

As well, specifics for Kyiv:
https://ua.usembassy.gov/security-alert-missile-threats-u-s-embassy-kyiv/

I understand that there are travelers who feel many State Dept. warnings are too extreme but maybe that feeling more often applies to general threats of civil unrest than an active war zone?

I've never had reason to read through a "Travel to high risk areas" checklist, and will admit that I find some of the bullet points a bit unsettling. Leave DNA samples with your medical provider? Draft a will? Have a contingency plan that does not rely on U.S. government assistance? Again, just curious but intrepid traveler that you are, how many points on the lists do you personally check?

Posted by
18302 posts

Sandansisco, thank you, but you would be surprised at the volume of traffic moving in and out and through most of the country; there isn't a lot unique about this.

The reason touches on a lot of personal issues also best left for a PM, and my reasoning may have nothing to do with someone else's so I am just stating an availability nothing more.

Kathy, no yelling, very fair question; the State Department has a difficult charge and I think they do as good a job as can be expected; thank you for pointing out the list.

Excellent point about insurance as I don't know of a policy that will cover you for injuries received as an act of war; but (mine at least) dose not address State Department warnings and its a huge consideration in the timing.

This is a very delicate thread and if I am not careful it could go bust (and I still haveq room for 2 more to join), so let's save the risk discussion for a PM if you are interested in my point of view (but happy to discuss).

Good thought provoking questions and I wish we could discuss more as it's a fascinating topic which could provide some interesting context for other trips (parts of the Balkans right now for example).

Posted by
8542 posts

I commend you for doing this and offering the opportunity to others. Everyone has their own perception of risk, and should follow their instincts. I would consider it if I was solo. Contemporary history is more interesting to me than ancient ruins.

Posted by
3923 posts

Contemporary history is more interesting to me than ancient ruins.

Ah well both are linked you know, our supposed "modern history" is often shaped by events that happened 100s or even 1000s of years ago. For example Putin is using the history of the millennia old Kyivan Rus State as one of the main pretexts for his invasion. Understanding ancient history can, more often than not, help make sense of modern history.

I'm think that perhaps this sense of interlinking of modern and ancient history is more difficult to appreciate for those who have grown up in the New World.

Posted by
15897 posts

Thanks for not yelling at me. :O)
So one more question? As you are organizing this trip, can you be held liable in any way for any injury (or worse) which might occur to your traveling companions? Again, having never ventured into a war zone, I'm genuinely interested. This is sort of a learning opportunity.

To my great regret, I passed on the opportunity to travel to Ukraine some years ago with a group of people I'd been virtual friends with for some time. Silly me.

Posted by
222 posts

Sounds like a wonderful trip. Unfortunately my current health issues makes this impossible at this time. :(