Scarred by frequent unpleasant experiences with local authorities in rural parts of Russia, I have to admit that I had similar expectations for my trip to Ukraine. Instead I left Ukraine thinking that this very well might be the best former Soviet country to visit. I found the capital Kiev to be an interesting and beautiful city while the balmy seaport town of Odessa had some of the best World War II history I had ever seen. A trip to the time capsule known as Chernobyl gave me a chance to explore the Soviet Union while seeing the eerie devastation left behind from a failed nuclear power plant. Following my trip here one of my best friends spent his New Years in Kiev and had an equally great experience. Much of Ukraine still remains unexplored for me and this is a place I definitely plan to revisit. I look forward to spending time in the subtropical towns along the Black Sea and doing some hiking and camping in western Ukraine’s vast national parks.
One of the former Soviet Union’s most beautiful and amazing cities, Kiev stands out today with its proud history of survival and strong willed population. Kiev experienced harsh times from medieval battles to the horrors of World War II and what they now call genocide, the Holodomor. Kiev has several historical wonders and museums, some of the best night life in all Europe, and all at affordable prices!
In the short 200 years that Odessa has existed, it grew from a small town to a major city and the largest seaport in Ukraine. During World War II, Odessa was the site of several major battles against the invading Nazis. Odessa has some of the most interesting World War II history in the world, particularly with the thousands of kilometers of underground catacombs where the resistance lived. Odessa is home to lots of beaches, famous architecture and plenty of places for upscale restaurants and great night life.
Once a city unknown to the rest of the world, Chernobyl became infamous after a nuclear powerplant there melted down spewing deadly amounts of radiation into the air. Many Soviets were permanently forced to leave their homes and abandon most of their belongings, leaving Chernobyl frozen in time. Since its been more than a quarter of a century, danger levels have dropped enough to allow those willing to expose themselves to a little radiation to visit the remains.