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Snow closes Kyiv

It seems a spring snow storm has closed KBP the main airport for Kyiv and the city is almost shut down with public transportation all shut down. They have received more snow from this one storm than they normally receive for a month. The Metro has increased the number of passenger they can handle during the storm.

While there has been heavy snow in parts of Europe including the UK, in Kiev it has been so bad that a state of emergency has been declared.

As the snow has slowed cars to a crawl a few clever youth travel by snowboard.

How to save a few dollars when you travel

To save a few dollars when you travel around Ukraine you need to do your homework first. A few tips that can save you money is to use local transportation such as the bus or Metro. Taxi drivers can spot a tourist in a second and will charge as much as they think they can get. The locals always negotiate a rate before a ride. Since most people arrive at KBP we will tell about how to get to Kiev from there. You will be using the bus and the metro to get to Kiev, the bus from the airport is 25 grivna, to get local currency go to terminals A/B and they have a place to exchange a few dollars to grivna. The bus will go to the train station where you can take the metro for 2 grivna each way. The name of the train station is vokzal or vokzalna you should spend some time learning to read a little Russian.

metro sign The metro has signs in English so as long as you know where you are going there should be no problem, there is a map on our Kiev page to help. I use my map on my iphone to find where I need to go. If your phone is unlocked you can buy a local sim card and data for your phone, I use MTC for local sim. The cost is relatively cheap in Ukraine compared to most places. Most places who rent out apartments will offer to have a taxi meet you for around  35 dollars and if you have a lot of baggage you might consider it. Most rental company's who cater to tourists offer Wi Fi and renovated apartments with hot water on demand (check our links page).

Iphone in Ukraine

Kyiv Domino'sOn my last trip to Ukraine I used my Iphone 4, It is unlocked so I just used my local sim card and purchased some data for my phone. I used the standard map program on my phone to see where we were as we traveled in the Carpathian mountains. The thing that surprised me was that when we went to Kyiv for a day we wanted to find the Metro that was closest to our apartment. I opened the map put in Metro and up came the map, to my surprise it worked and after clicking on bus it gave the bus number as well as walking directions. We went to the bus stop and waited for our bus then took the metro to Khreschatik to find Sushi Ya, one of our favorite places. Another surprise was the Pizza places all have scooters for delivery. Domino's is one of the newest pizza chains to enter Ukraine.

Bukovel where to shop

Bukovel Ukraine ski shopI was doing great loving the 50 KM of trails on one of the 17 lifts when I noticed I lost one of my gloves. Well after checking a few of the stores I found one with a decent discount, now knowing I am at a resort I expected to have to pay more than if I found some at home. To my surprise I found a place that had a decent discount and wound up paying around 20 dollars for a new pair of gloves.

You may notice the sign is in English but don't be fooled the local language is Russian, not many speak English but as the resort expands I expect more will offer Emglish in the future. I did find a few shop owners who spoke limited English but mostly it was Russian. Ski rental is much cheaper than snowboard rental at about 3-4 dollars a day, Snowboard rental should be no more than 10-11 a day and all rentals include a helmet since they are required on the slopes.

Ski and snowboard rental This is a chain rental place, This one has some employees who speak a little English. All of them are located along the road to Bukovel starting in Uremchey. If you count to number 3 this one is it, located at the bus stop in Mykulychyn so its hard to miss. My advice is to hire a guide since English isn't spoken much and a local interpreter (if you can find one) can cost more for a day then a guide will cost for a week. Another advantage of having a guide is they will find cheaper accommodations since they do not receive commission from local hotels, you will find some on our links page. A guide can save you more on accommodations than they cost to have them with you. Hotels can cost from 110 dollars and up per night depending on what you choose. To stay in a rooming house starts at 10 dollars a night up to 50 dollars and normally includes two meals a day. Transportation normally costs just under 1 dollars for a bus to around 4 dollars for a taxi each way. Buses run about every 20 minutes or so and its normal for them to pack you in until its standing room only.

Bukovel ski and snowboard

Bukovel lift

We traveled to Ivano-frankivs’k by train from Kyiv, It was an overnight train ( like most trains in Ukraine) so we arrived about 9 am, We then took a mini bus about an hour to our room in Mykulychyn a small city just past Yaremche. Our rooming house was nice and fairly new. It is quite common to use a rooming house that will normally include 2 meals a day for a small price. We stayed for 6 days and the cost was close to 50 dollars per person for the whole time including the 2 meals a day. Read more here.

Hotel in Kyiv

It seems the Ukrainian concierge in hi class hotels seem to be up to the standard of there counterparts around the world.Need a helicopter in 30 minutes to fly to Lviv? Airport pickup on a carriage pulled by three white horses? Same-day tickets to the opera? A pair of shoes repaired quickly before a meeting? more

medical care in Ukraine

Medical travel is getting popular in Ukraine, most travel for dental care. There are quite a few mediacal facilities opening in Ukraine who speak English. The Kyiv post has a list of places. More

History of Kiev

August of 2012 the history museum opened in a new building close to khreschatik, the main thurofare in Kyiv. It was closed for 9 years due to not having a place to display the artifacts.

Kyiv’s history museum dates to 1978 when it was established inside the Klovsky Palace, an 18th-century building located in the heart of the city. It was once one of Kyiv’s top landmarks. read more

AeroSvit flights canceled

It seems Aerosvit has canceled a number of flight. The company seems to have had some trouble paying its bills in the past. No information has come out yet but it seems the Ukrainian embassy has helped some stranded travelers. Wizz Air is offering a special price for passengers who re book on there flights. Ukraine has decided to look into the problem with the airline. Wizz Air is a discount airline operating in major hubs thru out Europe.

cell phones in Ukraine

Most of Europe uses sim cards for phones. Ukraine has has a couple carriers Kyivstar GSM, MTC (former UMC), Djuice, Jeans, Beeline, Life :), U'TEL, Mobilych, UNI.

AT&T and T-MOBILE use the same technology and will unlock your phone for free if you meet certain requirements. Once your phone is unlocked you can just buy a sim card that fits and you can make cheep local calls. Ebay and Amazon also sell unlocked quad band phones for use over seas. For a small fee you can use internet on your smart phone. MTC charges .01 UAH for a month of unlimited ( rates subject to change). There are a few places at the airport to purchase a sim and recharge, there are also kiosk all over the city and many small shops offer sim and recharge. There are also automated machines to purchase more time and internet service. Data for smart phones is really cheap compared to other country's. Check with the carrier about terms and fees for usage, most offer unlimited for a very reasonable fee.