Written by fizzytom on 19 Jun, 2010
The name Novy Svit means "New World" and, as one approaches the beautiful little bay flanked by two mountains and edged with dark green cypresses, it’s easy to see how it got its name. Situated on the southern coast of the Crimean peninsula, this little…Read More
The name Novy Svit means "New World" and, as one approaches the beautiful little bay flanked by two mountains and edged with dark green cypresses, it’s easy to see how it got its name. Situated on the southern coast of the Crimean peninsula, this little town is a popular resort for holidaying Russians and Ukrainians. Unlike Yalta, the best known of the Crimean resorts, and the slightly quieter but still fairly commercial Sudak, Novy Svit has little to interest tourists outside the summer months and even during the season activities are almost entirely limited to the beach and to climbing its mountains. It’s possible to get a feel for Novy Svit in just one day and many people staying in Sudak come on daytrips. We stayed for two nights and left on the third day. Although its unlikely to attract many conventional foreign holiday makers, Novy Svit is a fairly popular draw on the backpacking trail and it's an interesting place to visit to see how Ukrainians holiday. The town doesn’t have a train station and to get to it you must take a marshrutka (like a Turkish dolmus, a minibus that leaves when it’s full) from the town of Sudak. When leaving, the only option is to head back to Sudak which is a reasonably sized hub for bus travel. Novy Svit is between Sudak and Yalta.It’s a scenic (and sometimes hair-raising) journey which follows the coast for part of the way and the road climbs high as it nears Novy Svit which means that you get a glorious view of the bay as the bus gets to the crest of the hill before dropping back into the town. Our bus was packed with families carrying their holiday gear in plastic shopping bags and battered vinyl suitcases; the children clutched buckets and spades.There’s no bus station as such, just a turning point where the buses stop. As we got off the bus we were approached by a group of noisy old ladies each wanting us to rent a room in their apartment. We agreed a price with a lady who was wearing a lavender coloured shell suit and followed her to her flat. When the Iron Curtain fell, the financial security of people all over Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union crumbled with it. In towns that attract tourists, many people take in holiday makers and back packers to earn some extra money. This lady was lucky enough to have a three roomed apartment, of which she let out two rooms over the summer. Our room shared a balcony with the one next to it and had a great view of the Black Sea. There are few hotels in Novy Svit; even families stay with local people, many of them visiting the same week every year so they don’t even need to look for accommodation. A handful of hotels are former sanatoria, huge complexes that used to belong to large Soviet firms. Those lucky enough to work for such a firm would have been able to take their family for a fortnight’s holiday there every summer; they were a bit like holiday camps with additional spa (and I use the term loosely) facilities. Some accept independent guests but most have to be booked in advance and are hard to get into if you are not with a Russian tour group. You can, however, walk through the grounds and take a look at the interesting architecture and beautifully laid out gardens. We must have arrived quite early in the season as some of the beach side bars and restaurants were still being built. Each year they are erected than taken down again at the end of the season. There are one or two rides for children and a few stalls where you can win a variety of kitsch items, but most of these tents are for the selling of beer and fast food such as burgers and pizzas. There are some temporary restaurants including a couple where, rather than eating your meal at a conventional table, you climb onto a high bed-type structure and eat while reclining on richly embroidered cushions, Tatar-style. In keeping with the Tatar theme the food is mostly meaty, in the form of tasty kebabs with soft cheeses and flat breads. We ate out one night and at our apartment the other. There’s a small market between the beach and the "town centre" number of traders sell the most delicious fresh produce. We bought the ingredients for a salad which we ate with a big bag of prawns which we shelled as we ate them, while sitting on our balcony looking out to see. We finished with the sweetest strawberries and washed our meal down with a bottle of (very sweet) Novy Svit champagne. A shop in town sells locally made champagne and the assistant will direct you to the most dry (and therefore most palatable to most westerners) variety. A big bottle of moderately priced champagne cost around £2.00.If you’re interested in champagne and the history of champagne making in Novy Svit you can visit a museum in the house that belonged to Prince Golitsyn, a nineteenth century fop who started the whole business off in this area when, in the 1870s, he acquired some land and had Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir vines planted. The rest is history.We spent a lot of time on the beach. Novy Svit is notable because it has the closest thing to a sandy beach on the south coast of the Crimea. Admittedly it’s a yellowy grey rather than golden or white but it is certainly more comfortable than either the pebbly beaches at Yalta or the shingle at Sudak. Unfortunately the beach gets so crowded that sitting on it is a bit like being part of a huge breeding colony for seabirds; this is not somewhere to get away from it all. That said, it was very lively and full of entertainment. The swimming is good and there are lots of enterprising locals trudging up and down selling snacks and drinks. The tiny shrimps are deliciously sweet and are so small that you can eat the whole lot without peeling them; we used to call them "krill". The seller carries them in a big tin bucket and starts filling a plastic bag until you tell him to stop.Away from the beach we explored the town a little but there is not a great deal to see. We decided to do the costal walk instead; this takes you along to the far end of the bay and into a botanic reserve which winds around the bottom of Mount Orel. Part way round there’s a grotto where Prince Holitsyn used to hold lavish parties. Although it wasn’t available when we visited, I’ve since heard that you can pay to swing on a bungee rope over the mouth of the grotto. You can also now pay to don some outlandish costumes (think camp biker, pirate or nineteenth century Russian aristocrat) and have your photograph taken; this is one of the most popular side shows at Ukrainian and Russian seaside resorts. Fortunately this is something that has started since our visit but I’ve heard from friends who have been since that the grotto, which was once a charming and secluded spot, is now very commercialised. Better to put on your walking shoes and walk up Mount Sokil (it means "falcon mountain") instead. While this is higher than the mountain on the other side of the bay, you are allowed to climb this one unescorted. Mount Orel (the name means "Eagle Mountain" in Tatar) is about 470 metres high and, because it’s a reserve, you must have a guide to climb it. We weren’t able to organise this from Novy Svit but it’s possible you can find someone in the tourist office in Sudak who can help.Novy Svit is a really pleasant stop off on the southern part of the Crimea and I’d recommend it for either a day trip from Sudak or a stop off while exploring the peninsula as a whole. It’s fun without being brash like Yalta and much quieter than Sudak which can get very crowded. It doesn’t have the historic attractions of Yalta and its environs but it does make a welcome break because it is so laid back. You do have to be quite a self sufficient traveller to stay in Novy Svit; few people speak English and there isn’t a great deal of entertainment. A Russian phrasebook is a useful item to pack and you’ll need a smattering of the language in restaurants and to get accommodation. This is a stunning part of the Crimea and merits a visit if you are in this part of Ukraine. Some cruises and organised tours do include Novy Svit in their itineraries and, even if they don’t, it’s certainly worth asking whether there is time to include it. Close
Written by michaelhudson on 24 May, 2010
"What condition is the road in?" asked one of the passengers. "Normal," laughed the driver, "the same as normal." "Are they repairing it?" "They say they're going to.""You can't call that thing a road anymore," my student had warned me about the state of the…Read More
"What condition is the road in?" asked one of the passengers. "Normal," laughed the driver, "the same as normal." "Are they repairing it?" "They say they're going to.""You can't call that thing a road anymore," my student had warned me about the state of the route between Odessa and Mykolaiv, two cities with a combined population of over one and a half million. When the road was good it was bad, but when it was bad it was absolutely awful. Cracked, buckled and warped by the sun, the tarmac had been washed away completely on both sides and what was left in the middle looked like it had just been shelled. It was if someone had taken a nine-iron to a putting green, a bucket and spade to a patch of wet sand. It reminded you of India or Cambodia or any of a dozen other places that are nowhere near Europe. There were potholes as deep as manhole covers and cracks as big as furrows. The central line had almost disappeared, and in the worst sections most people simply gave up the pretence of following any rules. Buses crept past articulated lorries, battered Ladas jolted up and down past both, cars turned off the road onto flattened patches of dirt that ran alongside farmers' fields.The driver held a cigarette in one hand and a mobile phone in the other as he picked his way slowly around the holes. We moved side to side, up and down, until my lower back ached from all the sudden movements. Sometimes we drove on the right of the road, sometimes in the middle and occasionally we just drove on any piece of tarmac we could. It took two and a half hours to get back to Odessa. "It wasn't quite as bad as everyone made out," said the person sitting next to me, "but I really, really need a bath." Close
Written by michaelhudson on 20 May, 2010
It was just after a thunderstorm and the carriage was in near-darkness as the train pulled out of Odessa. None of the lights seemed to be working, the windows didn't open, and there was nothing coming out of the air conditioning vents but dust. There…Read More
It was just after a thunderstorm and the carriage was in near-darkness as the train pulled out of Odessa. None of the lights seemed to be working, the windows didn't open, and there was nothing coming out of the air conditioning vents but dust. There were three middle-aged women sitting in the compartment, talking between ringtones. I answered their first question in Russian, the second in English. "He doesn't understand," they said, turning away.The toilet was at the end of the carriage, a rusty metal bowl and a puddle on the floor. When I came out the conductor was pointing to a sign I hadn't seen and screaming something about zones. All I could manage was a shrug in return.We made our beds at midnight and I jumped up onto a bunk as hard as a police station floor. My head touched the wall by the window, my feet touched the wall by the door. The door didn't close, the train rocked so much you felt you were on horseback, and the woman below had already started snoring. There are times when it's better to arrive than it is to travel. Three hours after leaving the train at Simferopol, I reached Sevastopol on the half past two bus, passing kick-off at the football ground and an armoured train with Death to the Fascists! written across the front. There were groups of men in flat white hats and black naval uniforms, wild poppies by the roadside, Hare Krishnas dancing at the seafront, and a statue of Lenin on a hilltop, facing out to sea, his right arm pointing forwards in the direction of a huge Russian flag.At the hostel I was met by a man in a Red Army Officer's uniform, who pulled up on the cobbles in a World War II jeep. "Michael? Sorry about the wait," he said, extending his hand. "Welcome to Crimea." Close
Yalta has been Russia's southern playground for almost as long as it's needed one. The Romanovs had a summer house built here, where Stalin later brought Churchill and Roosevelt to decide the fate of the post-war world. Chekhov wrote The Three Sisters and The Cherry…Read More
Yalta has been Russia's southern playground for almost as long as it's needed one. The Romanovs had a summer house built here, where Stalin later brought Churchill and Roosevelt to decide the fate of the post-war world. Chekhov wrote The Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard in a villa on the edge of town, Rachmaninoff was a frequent visitor, and the Gorbachevs were just a few miles down the coast when they were arrested during the failed coup of 1991. Part Riviera chic, part Old School Sovietism, and part Imperial lament, it has a street named after Marx, pizza parlours and western chain stores, and a statue of Lenin opposite a drive-through McDonald's and a children's toy shop called Bambi Land.The seafront had a pebble beach, palm trees and flowerbeds, people eating candyfloss, drunks stumbling along with their eyes closed, pensioners playing chess with their backs to the water and old women attempting to sell home-pickled gherkins. There were sushi bars in full-sized pirate ships parked by the sea, street signs in Russian and English, people dancing in the street, and outdoor stalls where tourists could have their photos taken sitting on motorbikes or thrones, dressed up in samurai armour, Mickey Mouse costumes, a Roman centurion's uniform or 18th century ball gowns.The main street, Naberezhnaya Lenina feels more like Nice than Ukraine. Pavement cafes, expensive for Crimea but still cheap compared to Odessa or Kiev, the same shops you'd find on an English highstreet and benches looking out to sea. It ends at Primorsky Park, where a path continues to Livadia Palace, where Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt met, and the Swallow's Nest, still Crimea's main tourist trap, a turreted castle which juts out of a cliff. "You must take the cable car up Ai-Petri," someone recommended. "Don't miss Livadia," said someone else. "The Swallow's Nest is the best thing to see." "You have to see Uchan-Su. It's Europe's highest waterfall." In the end, with only a few hours in town, I didn't manage to see any.You could spend weeks here doing nothing, or the best part of a day just ticking off the sights. Whichever you prefer, it's worth the journey. Close
Sevastopol, my students told me, celebrates Victory Day like no other city in Ukraine. By ten o'clock it seemed the whole of the city had lined up along Lenin Street. The 1945 victory address was pumping out of tannoys, a military band struck up a…Read More
Sevastopol, my students told me, celebrates Victory Day like no other city in Ukraine. By ten o'clock it seemed the whole of the city had lined up along Lenin Street. The 1945 victory address was pumping out of tannoys, a military band struck up a marching tune, and the admirals of the Black Sea Fleet drove up and down the street taking the salute from each of the units in turn. The mood was entirely celebratory. "For us today is a smiling day," said the Ukrainian couple I'd met back at the hostel. Women held flowers, children balloons, and the men either flags or bottles of beer. There were white-haired survivors of Afghanistan in camouflage jackets and hats and hunched old men with medals pinned to their chests. "Thank you! Thank you!" the crowd chanted as the veterans marched past.The Ukrainians wheeled left, the Russians to the right. The band played one national anthem then the other, but there were more Russian flags than Ukrainian ones in the hands of those along the road. I saw hammers and sickles next to Hondas, and Stalin's face on a carrier bag in the queue for the Raiffeisenbank cash point. After the parade everything was in chaos. I gave up trying to reach Balaclava after forty traffic-clogged minutes and walked an hour to the site of Chersonesos, the remains of Ukraine's oldest city, instead. The entrance was like a football stadium. "Good luck," laughed the man behind me as I joined the scrum for tickets.The day ended with a firework display in the sky above the port. I stood by the Lenin statue, listening to the chants of "Se-va-sto-pol, Se-va-sto-pol" that greeted each explosion. "Is it like this in Britain on Victory Day?" asked the people I was with. "Not really, no." Close
Written by michaelhudson on 17 Apr, 2010
Chornomorets Odessa should be one of the giants of Ukrainian football. A one club city of a million people, Odessa was the place where Ukrainians first saw the game being played. In 1878, the Odessa British Athletic Club was the first football club anywhere in…Read More
Chornomorets Odessa should be one of the giants of Ukrainian football. A one club city of a million people, Odessa was the place where Ukrainians first saw the game being played. In 1878, the Odessa British Athletic Club was the first football club anywhere in the Russian Empire. The first international game to feature a Ukrainian team took place here in 1914 and Dynamo Odessa were founded a quarter of a century later. Renamed Chornomorets (Black Sea Men), they qualified for the UEFA Cup in 1975, finishing third (thereby ending my run of firsts) in the USSR Top League behind only Dinamo Kiev and Spartak Moscow. Independence brought two Ukrainian Cups and a pair of runner-up finishes (again behind Kiev) to Odessa, but also relegation. In the past three seasons they've finished sixth, seventh and tenth.This year they're even worse. Fourth from bottom of a sixteen-team league, before kick-off they'd scored just eighteen goals in twenty-three games and were only three points off relegation. Their opponents, Vorskla Poltava, were only very slightly better: played twenty three, points twenty four, goal difference zero.Due to the sluggish redevelopment of their 35,000-capacity stadium, Odessa are playing at the two-sided Spartak Stadium, a few hundred metres seawards of the city's main railway station, where matchday tickets cost 20 hryva (about two euro). Outside the ground the newspaper vendors were doing a roaring trade thanks to the new law requiring drinkers to wrap their bottles of beer in paper. What was left came in handy as a cover for the filthy seats. Chornomorets came out in Inter Milan stripes but any similarities ended right there. I spent the first twenty minutes trying to get through a handful of sunflower seeds I'd mistakenly accepted from my neighbour - then wished I'd asked for more. The game had goalless written all over it: Poltava were so happy with a point they rarely bothered to cross halfway and Odessa so toothless up front they couldn't even muster a shot on target after half-time. Their best player was the right back, a former Brazilian Under-17 international who'd failed to make the grade with Marseille, but that wasn't saying very much. By the end of the game the centre-forward had dropped so deep he was playing in defence, hitting a simple square ball straight out for a throw. The crowd thinned immediately from four thousand down to two. "This is the worst game I've seen," said the bloke sitting next to me. Nobody disagreed. Close
Written by michaelhudson on 15 Apr, 2010
Despite its fame, Odessa is a surprisingly young city. Founded by Catherine the Great in 1794, two years after the end of the Russo-Turkish War, it was built on the remains of a small Muslim settlement. Before that there were the Scythians, a nomadic tribe…Read More
Despite its fame, Odessa is a surprisingly young city. Founded by Catherine the Great in 1794, two years after the end of the Russo-Turkish War, it was built on the remains of a small Muslim settlement. Before that there were the Scythians, a nomadic tribe of Ancient Iranians who once ruled most of what is now Ukraine, but would have probably passed out of history entirely if it hadn't been for Herodotus. All that's left of them in Odessa is an ersatz, glass-covered burial chamber near the top of the Potemkin Steps - the only thing in the entire city that's always spotlessly clean.When Mark Twain visited in the 1860s he described Odessa as "having no sights to see". Nonetheless, he spent an enjoyable few days wandering about the streets and eating ice cream. Nothing much changes. Even allowing for local pride, most of the people I know wouldn't disagree with him. "What are the main tourist attractions in Odessa?" I asked my students. "The Opera House," they replied as one. "Anything else?" "Maybe the cow in front of Steakhouse."Redesigned in Italian Baroque style in the early-1880s, the Opera House is undeniably magnificent, but it was the Potemkin Steps that I'd always wanted to see. Unfortunately, they don't exactly live up to the Eisenstein image. From the top, the view is not so much of the Black Sea than of the oblong sprawl of the 1960s ferry passenger terminal and all nineteen stories of the post-Soviet Hotel Odessa, which is blue, white and irredeemably ugly. Damaged by erosion, the stairs no longer sweep right down to the waterfront, the original Trieste sandstone was covered over with granite in the 1930s, and an extension to the port cut the number of landings - famously invisible from the bottom, despite being so broad that the stairs can't be seen from above - in half, reducing the two-hundred steps to one hundred and ninety two. At the bottom there's a busy road. Close
Written by dangaroo on 13 Jan, 2009
Chernivtsi is a city of around 240,000 in South Western Ukraine about 650km south of Kiev, I paid it a visit during a trip in Ukraine about 2 years ago. In retrospect the 1 day was not really enough.HistoryChernivtsi started off as a modest ancient…Read More
Chernivtsi is a city of around 240,000 in South Western Ukraine about 650km south of Kiev, I paid it a visit during a trip in Ukraine about 2 years ago. In retrospect the 1 day was not really enough.HistoryChernivtsi started off as a modest ancient Slavic settlement on the left bank of the River Prut which starts off in the Ukrainian Carpathian mountains, joins the Danube in the Delta in Romania before entering the Black Sea. This site saw the Galician prince (most likely Yaroslav Osmomysl (1153-1187) set up a fortress to protect the borders and the trade route along the river, the fortress was known as Chern (black) and this is where the town's name is thought to have derived. The Tatar-Mongol war put an end to the fortress as it was burnt to the ground in 1259.The residents of Chern crossed over to the right bank of the river whilst more fortifications were re-built on the left where a bastion can still be found today and the neighbouring settlement of Lenkivtsi remained. Circa 1350, Galicia was split up and whilst the majority of it joined Poland, this area joined neighbouring Moldova instead. The town's economy boosted during this time as it was used as an important town on the trade route between L'viv and the Black Sea and was used as a customs check point by the Moldovans, it was in a document at this time that the town was first mentioned as Chernivtsi, it was also said that it was a humble country town with several churches, 5 artisans and mostly farmers.This economic growth stopped when Moldova became part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, the area that Chernivtsi was then known as Bukovina which became Austrian due to the result of the Russian-Tukrish war in the early 1770's. The city once again started to do better and the population swelled as it became the center of Galicia and then towards the late 1800's the capital of Bukovina.The last century saw Bukovina change hands several times, it became part of Romania in 1918 as Austro-Hungary was dissolved at the end of WW1. The Red Army of the Soviet Ukraine took over the city in 1940 during WW2. WW2 also saw Theodor Criveanu a Romanian lawyer who eventually married a Jewish girl rescue up to 25,000 Jews by giving them permits saying that they were needed for work, many of them were in fact not needed but Criveanu faked the documents to save them. The remaining 25,000 of the Jewish population could not be saved though and were sent to Transnistria. A year later, Romania took back Chernivtsi but in 1944 it was returned to the Soviet Ukraine. In 1991, it remained part of Ukraine as they gained their independency.The city is still rather multi-cultural but most of the Jews moved to Israel or the USA in the early 90's, many of the Romanians either fled to Romania or Moldova or were sent to prison camps in Siberia by the Soviets, they still emigrate to Romania due to the improved economic situation and many of the Poles and Germans re-patriated.The city is currently 79.8% Ukrainian, 11.3% Russian, 4.4% Romanian, 1.6% Moldovan, 0.6% Jewish, 0.6% Polish and 1.2% mixed minorities.SightsOne of the main thing that sticks in my memory is the amazing Chernivtsi University, it was once a great estate but is now full of young students! The train station is also incredibly overpowering, the center is very grand with buildings like the Chernivtsi Drama Theater and the Regional Museum of Fine Arts that come to mind in particulare there isn't really an ugly building in the centre at all and the town centre has a mixture of old fashioned shops, modern cafes. Chernivtsi is a bit of a cultural centre with plenty of museums and art galleries, I preferred sitting in the park on a hot summer's day drinking a fresh glass of Kvas though. The town is quite hilly and the trolley buses speed around the bumpy streets at a pace in an attempt to keep up with the marshrutkas (mini bus taxis), they have no chance really though.Getting ThereBus services are cheap and regular in Ukraine whilst trains are a bit slower, they often travel through the night which is an enjoyable experience with a fair share of vodka drinking friends and comfy beds. I personally hitchhiked there from Romania and can say that it shouldn't be a problem getting a ride since loads of Romanians drive up to Chernivtsi to fill up on fuel as it's at least half the price. You also have pretty good connections to Moldova and a bus once a day to and from Suceava in Romania. There are cheap flights from Uk to Rzeszow in Poland and Bucharest in Romania and these would be your nearest cheap options.General OpinionChernivtsi earned the name little Vienna and with pleasant streets and unbelievably cheap prices plus and quite an active night life I imagine due to the amount of students there, it's a fun place to go. It's a bit out of the way and with no flight connections to Western Europe, it would have to be part of a trip but you will be rewarded with a pleasant town with a nice atmosphere. Close
Lviv is more than worth visiting, just 70km's from the Polish border (which can normally be crossed much faster than the average waiting time of 4 hours if you just drive down the side of the front of the queue with 50zl inside your passport).…Read More
Lviv is more than worth visiting, just 70km's from the Polish border (which can normally be crossed much faster than the average waiting time of 4 hours if you just drive down the side of the front of the queue with 50zl inside your passport). Lviv has been Austro-Hungarian, Swedish, Polish, Russian and finally in its own right Ukrainian.Lviv's population was annihilated by WW2 a Currently there is only 1% Polish there officially after the Soviets expelled them all but Ukrainian and Polish are the languages of choice although people will speak Russian and there is a Russian minority. Lviv is like a quieter, older, cheaper and more peaceful version of Krakow. The cobbled streets graced by lada taxis, old trolley buses, trams and marshrutkas (mini vans) give it a special feeling as well as allow you to travel around the city in ease.The Church of the Assumption, St. George's Cathedral, the Market Square, City Hall and the Lviv Opera and Ballet Theatre are all must visits. Even the train station stands in great stature and you'll find things to do in all corners of the city. Friendly people with a genuine curiosity, yet not overly in your face or up your arse to get a sale. This is the kind of place I like.I can't comment much on hotels as I've always stayed with friends, I wouldn't expect the standard to be particularly high and water is often turned off between the hours of 6pm and 8am and occasionally throughout the day in bars, restaurants and hotels.The city is well connected with the rest of Ukraine and indeed anywhere from Italy to Vladivostok.Should you have any questions about getting there from neighbouring countries let me know. Lviv is known for it's great universities and therefore hot girls! It also goes without saying that food, drink and most things are unbelievably cheap. Close
Written by dinkime on 16 Jun, 2006
We started the planning for our trip (for summer 2005) in the late summer/early fall of 2004. We secured our funding in November 2004 and started the mounds of paperwork as soon as possible following that. Emails were frequent between myself and the organization we…Read More
We started the planning for our trip (for summer 2005) in the late summer/early fall of 2004. We secured our funding in November 2004 and started the mounds of paperwork as soon as possible following that. Emails were frequent between myself and the organization we were going with. I was the "go-to" gal for the group from my church, so I got ALL the information.
When we left, VISAS were still required for entry into Ukraine, although that law changed on July 1, 2005 (about 3 days into our trip!). This will save others going time and money since the Visa process took well over a month of paperwork going between us locally in Missouri, the office for our organization in Wisconsin and the Ukraine consulate in Chicago.
Before we left I made sure that my tetanus shot was up-to-date (I was only 1 year overdue). I also got a prescription for Cipro to use in case of traveler's diarrhea or other sickness because Ukraine is not known for sparkling clean drinking water (residents boil the water or drink bottled water). I also made sure to take some sort of pain reliever/fever reducer and a good decongestant. I ended up not needing them for anything too severe. I took a first aid kit. I did use a few of the band aids! I also made sure to take a bottle of BUG SPRAY! This turned out to be VERY essential--windows do not have screens in most homes, so we were inundated with mosquitoes every night while we slept.
I packed clothes for nicer/warmer weather. I checked weather websites to see what the averages might be. I also made sure to take one pair of jeans and a lighter sweater for cooler evenings. I also took 2 to 3 pairs of VERY comfortable shoes. People walk EVERYWHERE in Ukraine, so I knew I would need them! I planned clothes for about a week and a half, I knew I would be able to wash out clothes if I needed to or else wear them more than once. I also made sure to take a couple skirts (to the knee and below) because we would be visiting several monasteries. I also took along some head coverings (scarves and bandannas) for those tours.