One of the reasons some people visit Ukraine is that tourists do not step on each other to go there. There are some common misconceptions about Ukraine that make this country avoidable. The place looks gloomy, or there is an ongoing war in Ukraine are just two of the many reasons why people skip it while looking for a vacation destination. While those things are real, they are not entirely accurate. First of all, all countries with a temperate climate look gloomy in the fall and winter. Nature dies, there is a lot of rain, cold temperatures, and heavy snowing. However, when the spring and summer arrive, the country blooms, there are a few heat waves, and the place looks excellent.
As to the war part, unfortunately, there are still some regions that are active war zones. However, that is far east. If you take a look at a map of Ukraine, you will see how large it is. There are still come political conflicts with Russia, and the Ukrainians believe that Crimea is illegally occupied by the Russians, but you can stay far away from that area. It is not like you do not have hundreds of other places where you can go and be safe at the same time.
You may be wondering if you are able to speak to the locals as well as to people in service. It is a natural concern, but you may be a bit disappointed. People in Ukraine speak Ukrainian and Russian, but English not so much. You may meet some younger people who will know how to offer you directions and maybe explain some basic things to you, but it is not as frequent as you may expect. It is true that English is taught in schools, but the older generations will barely understand what you are saying. As a result, you need to learn some phrases in Ukrainian before your departure. It is not the easiest language to learn, but unless you want to end up in the middle of a crowd with nobody understanding you, you do not have much of a choice.
One thing that is surprising about Ukrainians is that they speak both Ukrainian and Russian, sometimes at the same time. That is because of the country's ties with Russia.
Speaking of languages, one thing that you must also learn before you leave for Ukraine is the Cyrillic alphabet. Chances are that this is the first time you hear about it. However, in Ukraine, they do not use the ABC. They have their own alphabet, and it will confuse you greatly. Even so, you need to learn it if you want to be able to read signs. Unlike other countries, the signs are not translated into English.
If you want to break the chain of misconceptions about Ukraine being cold and gloomy, you should go to Odessa. That is the place everyone goes to when they visit Ukraine. You should too. Why? Because you have the beach near the Black Sea, the nightlife, the fun, and the adventure. Odessa is rich in history and mystery. Do not miss the opportunity to explore them both. You are going to have an amazing time.
The best way to get around Ukraine is by train. It covers the majority of the country's surface, and it is cheap. The trains may not be up to your standards, and some of them look bad, but any other means of transportation is either slow or expensive. Even so, you can take the night train, which is quite comfortable. However, one thing that you should keep in mind is that they do not provide food on these rides, which means that you need to hit a supermarket before you get on.
If you are looking for a more local way to get around, you can try the mashrutkas. They are tiny buses that connect the rural area to the urban area. You do not have to buy tickets anywhere. When you get in, the driver will ask you what your destination is, and then you will get a price. Tourists do not really use the mashrutkas, so you may have a lot of curious people around you.
Have you ever heard about informal taxis? If not, it is some sort of hitchhiking, but on a more local level. This may come as a surprise, but people in Ukraine actually do this. They will stop on the side of the road if you are signaling, and they will take you here and there for a small fee. Salaries are low in Ukraine, so some extra cash is always welcomed.
The cuisine in Ukraine is similar to the rest of that side of Europe and Russia. You can find some delicious local dishes such as borsch, varenyky, okroshka, kompot, uzvar, and many others. This restaurant is widely spread in Ukraine. It is the Ukrainian version of Burger King, let's say. Even so, you will like the food.
The people in Ukraine are usually very friendly and hospitable. If you are in luck and find some that speak English, you will see just how sociable they are. However, the country is known for its corruption, and while the regular people are nice, the authorities are not. One thing that may come as surprising for you is the behavior of the officers at the borders.
If you go by land, you are in for a treat. They always expect for a bribe, and they come up with all kinds of excuses not to let you pass. That is usually a sign that they want to be bribed. There were some cases when tourists refused to bribe them, and as a result, the officers turned their car upside down. And I mean down to the tires and gas tank. You may not go through something as extreme as that, but if you can, you should better enter the country by air. You never know.
Overall, Ukraine has a lot to offer. It is a country full of history, and the culture is fascinating. If you know where to go, you will experience vibrant cities, and the sightseeing is not bad either. It may have its cons like all countries do, but when you put it into perspective, Ukraine is a country you should go to. It is not crowded by tourists yet, which may lead to a more pleasant trip.