Ukraine Part 2 – October 2018

Only two weeks had passed and I was on my way to Gatwick airport for another weekend in Ukraine, fascinated with my previous visit I drove along the M25 and over the Dartford crossing with a sense of headlining into the unknown. This time I was travelling solo.
For this journey I was flying with Ukrainian International Airways. A cheap last minute deal was available. UIA by way were in my opinion far worse that Wizz and other budget airlines. Which surprised me given it is the counties national airline.

The flight didn’t leave Gatwick until around 11:30pm so not landing at Kyiv-Borispol until around 4:30am. I can’t sleep on planes it’s something I struggle to do so this was an all nighter.
Arriving at Borispol I was met by a driver from the hotel named Sergai we had a great chat on the way to the hotel about many things. But his favourite subject was Brexit… I’m always up for talking about politics but on this occasion the last thing I wanted to discuss was the finer details of Brexit after being awake for 20+ hours.
Finally arriving at the hotel at around 5:30am I hit the pillow and immediately fell asleep!

Not wanting to loose the day I opted for a slightly leisurely start of 10:00 and headed back out into Kyiv. It was an odd sesnsation i’d only left Kyiv 2 weeks prior and I was back again.
I decided to head down to indipendence square for a look around and a small beer in the square. I hadn’t actually seen in the day time it’s still impressive but I must say more so at night with the light show and the fountains in full swing.

Once the sun begins to set in that time of year it begins to get quite cold dropping down to 4 or 5 degrees.
I opted to head back to the hotel to get my coat as I wanted to go for a walk around the park and garden where The Motherland Monument is situated.

By now it was dark and the park was lit up, I also found the Eternal Flame in the park a memorial to Ukraine’s deceased from military conflict.
Just next to the location of the flame I was greeted with a landscape of Kyiv lit up at night. What a sight, this is definitely something to consider if you find yourself here in an evening.
The Motherland Statute was just as impressive close up as it was from its view from the river trip I had taken on my last visit.

Satisfied with a day wandering around and a little weary from the previous days travelling I headed back for the night.

The next morning was an early start to go to Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi railway station, the destination was Lviv a city on the west of Ukraine near the Polish border.
Despite the fact this was a ‘high-speed service’ the journey time was around 7 hours a chance to catch up on sleep then!

The trains used are modern and clean and surprisingly spacious. I opted for a first-class ticket on this occasion as the entire journey was around £25 the difference between first and standard was about £4 and given the long train journey I figured I’d treat myself!
For those thinking of visiting Lviv Ryanair now operate a service from London Stansted with fairly reasonable prices.

My train was at 5 am from Kyiv which mean arriving at Lviv station around midday. The walk from Lviv station to the city centre takes about 15 min, there are tram services but if I’m honest they always looked very busy and a little complicated so I opted to avoid the trams on this occasion.

My hotel on this occasion was the Rius hotel in the city centre the normal pricing for this hotel is around £85 a night but on this occasion, it was free as I used up some British Airways points I had earned on previous adventures.
It was a little more luxurious than some of the hotels I’ve previously stayed at.

Having checked into the hotel and dropped off my bag I headed out into the city for the first time. Stopping first at Na Valakh Square, a 16th-century market square in the centre of the city.
In the middle of the square is the Gunpowder Tower also constructed in the 16th century used as a defensive position and later on for grain storage. Today the top of the tower has a cafe where you can buy local Lviv coffee.

Next, I moved onto a little cafe just off of the square and had a beer local to Lviv the waiter told me there is a fast-growing craft beer industry in Lviv, it was one of the nicer beers I’d had in Ukraine.

I moved onto another square this time it was Rynok Square with the impressive town hall in the middle for a small fee you can climb to the top of the tower, upon reaching the top of the tower you are greeted with a view of the whole city. For the money and the calories burnt it is definitely worth it.
Back downstairs and in each corner of the square, there is a statue of the Greek gods, Neptune, Diana, Amphitrite and Adonis. In 1998 the square was recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Saturday nights in Lviv it turned out are very busy, I tried a couple of recommended restaurants to find something to eat, but each place was rammed and told of waits of up to an hour. In the end, I settled for a restaurant that on the outside looked good. When I went in and was shown a table it was nearly empty. I soon found out why. I had a terribly overpriced steak that wasn’t worth the price I paid, it was awful.

I opted to solve my disappointment of dinner with some beers in a local bar, the bar owner was a chatty individual who was convinced I was German. He was a massive Bayern Munich fan and felt the need to tell me all about Bayerns latest signings and movements in the Bundesliga.
Still, now that I had become an honorary Bayern Munich fan and an apparent German earned me a free drink and some nuts, silver linings…

The next day I only had the morning before my train back to Kyiv at around midday. I used the time to have a little wander around to take in the city and its architecture.
An uneventful train ride back to Kyiv followed then back to my hotel for my final morning in Ukraine.

The next morning I had a little look at an aviation museum near Kyiv-Zhulyany airport. The museum is open-air with an impressive collection of ex-Soviet jet fighters, bombers, helicopters and the ex Ukrainian presidential plane.
Also, a large fleet of Russian built Aeroflot planes, little did I know at the time I’d fly Aeroflot to Russia in only a matter of months.

As I flew home from Ukraine back home, I reflected on my Ukrainian adventure. Ukraine is a wonderful country with wonderful people. Take time to visit this place sometime and visit somewhere a little different. I’d return in a heartbeat, hopefully, I can soon!

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