Tag: travel


As a gift to a very good (and long-time) friend of mine, this weekend we moved 500km West this weekend for two days in Ukrainie’s ‘capital of culture’ – Lviv.

As a man who’s been to many ‘capitals of culture’ (and almost all European capitals) I can honestly say Lviv is one of the most beautiful. It’s not only unique from a Ukrainian perspective bit it’s as diverse, quirky, inspiring and enjoyable as anywhere I’ve ever been anywhere in Europe – including and perhaps even more so than Ljubljana in Slovenia.

For those who know me, you’ll understand the significance of that last statement.

Lviv is special and like it or not, Lviv will be the hottest ‘must see’ city in Europe within the next 5 years.

Despite the war thousands of kilometres to the East, or perhaps because of the war, Ukraine is opening to the world like never before and the world now knows where UA is. For now Lviv and Western Ukraine may be the best kept secret for Poles looking for a romantic weekend away and for those of us in Ukraine, but that won’t last. Easyjet or RyanAir will arrive soon and when they do you’ll all be wondering why you never came before.

This is all the more remarkable for a city which, just 10 years ago was as drab and depressing as any of its post-Soviet neighbours.

Go there!






City Guide: Kherson

A native’s guide to Kherson
By Жанна Кобылинская

A sunset view over the river

There is a city in Ukraine filled of special aura, green parks and romance…

This city is Kherson

If you want to visit a city filled with a special aura of love and romanticism, I recommend you to come to Kherson in the south of Ukraine.

The first stones of the city

The city was established by order of Catherine the Great and founded by one of the Empress’ favourite generals – Field Marshal Grigory Potemkin.

Being designed as the southern capital of the empire (which even had its own mint), the city witnessed a secret love affair between Catherine and Potemkin; and love is the feeling that makes impossible things to come true and inspires people to perform the greatest things.

Potemkin stands proud in the city

Grigory Potemkin referred to Kherson as the city of his dreams and asked to be buried in the city. His tomb is located on the territory of the city’s Catherine Cathedral.

Military power of the city

While travelling to Kherson don’t miss an opportunity to visit its old fortress and go along the city picturesque embankment where, apart from modern pleasure boats and yachts, you will see a stone statue of the first 66-gun ship of the Russian Empire «Glory of Catherine».

Kherson has always been a large shipping centre

Here you will learn that Kherson was the first base of the Black Sea Fleet. There are still river and sea navigated ports and ship building, repair and modern ship production remain major industries in the city.

A Multi-religious and multicultural city

If you visit Kherson, I highly recommend a walk around the city’s streets. It has always been a tolerant home for various nationalities and different religion belivers. Among the cosy streets of the old centre there has always been a peaceful coexistence between Greek, Polish, German, and Jewish communities and the city is dotted with synagogues, Greek temples, and the Polish Church and German Lutheran Church.

I am sure you will enjoy the special sound of Kherson, which is a combination of jazz overtones played over the street radio system, mixed with the bright melodies of the street musicians. The festive extravaganza of many street festivals includes fire-shows, a salsa-marathon, and a rock duel.  There are poetry competitions, costumed processions and many carnivals! The list goes on.

Enjoy Kherson’s green parks

I also recommend you visit the only planetarium in the South of Ukraine, the classic theatres, the city’s museums and their thousands of exhibits of local history. The art galleries include unique samples of avant-garde art  from the Kherson region.

There is a museum of modern art, and the department of rare books at the Kherson Regional Library has rare manuscripts and miniature books.

Where to eat and drink

While walking around the city one has a good choice of restaurants and cafes to have a snack or drink. You can drop in for a beer in ‘John Howard’ pub (http://vclub.johnhoward-pub.com.ua/contacts.html), and reflect on old times at ‘Nostalgia’ restaurant (http://nostalgie.net.ua/en/index.php?location=content&id=4).

The restaurants at the hotels ‘Muscat’ (http://www.muscat.kherson.ua/restaurant) and ‘Diligence’ (http://hotel-diligence.com.ua/restoran) offer service in English. Many foreigners coming to Kherson frequent these places due to high service level.

If you feel that you are ready to travel to Kherson and see all above-mentioned with your own eyes you can reach it by train or by bus. Overnight trains run from Kiev and Ukraine’s other main cities.

I’m sure that visit to this city will remain in your heart forever.

Жанна Кобылинская

Visit BlueToYellow’s gallery from Kherson here

How to: use the metro in Kiev

Kiev’s metro (subway) system can be quite intimidating, especially if you’re new to Ukraine, don’t speak the local language and can’t read cyrillic.

However, fear not because it is actually a very cheap, convenient, fast, safe and reliable way to travel around the city.

First, you will need to find a station, then you will need to access it, then you will need to locate and get to your stop. This guide will help you get there and will take the pain out of underground travel – Ukrainian style.

The full guide is available below, but first here’s some basic information and a short history of the metro system.

1. It was first proposed in 1916, put on hold during WWII (known at the Great Patriotic War here in Ukraine) and then restarted in 1949. Eleven years later, in 1960, the first line opened running from the central train station to the river.

2.  At the end of 2010 the Kiev Metro was using 774 individual carriages.

3. There are three lines. Red, Blue and Green. The lines cross each other in a triangle in the city centre. See the map.

4. The cost of a token/ticket is just 2 hrivna! (approximately 20 Euro cents). You pay once and you can travel as far as you like. You only repay if you leave the metro system and want to re-enter.

You can switch lines where they cross in the city centre. Also, ignore the dotted lines, they don't exist yet.

How To: Use the Metro in Kiev

The guide has the following sections

1. Finding the metro
2. Accessing the Metro
3. On the platform
4. Boarding and train etiquette
5. Leaving the train and the platform


1. Finding the metro. 

To find the entrance to the metro, look for the big green M.

The ‘M’ marks the stairs that lead underground, but be aware that there is often a busy collection of kiosks, tunnels, cash machines (ATMs) and grandma’s selling stuff like bread or knickers before you get to the metro itself.

2. Accessing the metro 

Enter > buy a ticket > get through the gates

Your first big challenge will be the swinging doors that guard the metro. These glass and metal doors swing (fast) in both directions, they are  heavy enough to kill a bear and unless you’re old, it is unlikely that the person in front of you will hold the door open for you.  So, just be ready and be careful to catch the thing as it swings back in your face.

TIP: If you’re clever, you can pass the door as the wind coming from the station blows it open, or as it swings open after the last person entered. However, both of these are advanced metro skills and shouldn’t be tried in your first week.

There are two sets of doors for each station. One set to enter (вхід) and one to exit (вихід). Can you see the difference? No?  Well, don’t worry, I still have trouble remembering the difference.

Enter (вхід)
Exit (вихід)

four letters = enter
five letters = exit

To make life more difficult, вхід (enter) is often written in red, while вихід (exit) can be written in green – but not always.  Hopefully they’ll fix all this before the EURO 2012 championships, but if they don’t the best thing to do is follow everyone else and try not to enter a door that people are walking out from.

 Buying a ‘ticket’ 

Actually you need a token or ‘zjeton’. These are small plastic coins and you need one token to enter.

A token costs 2 UAH and there are three ways to buy them.

1. Go to the window, give the woman your money and indicate the number of tokens you need with your fingers

2. Go to the small orange dispenser machines. It the dispenser has a 2 on it, enter 2 UAH and you’ll get one coin. If the dispenser has a 10 on it, enter a 10 UAH and you’ll get 5 coins.  NB, the machines only accept the exact notes. If you try to enter anything but a 2 or 10 you will get nowhere and people will get annoyed with you.

3. Use the new touch screen terminals that they have just installed. If you can understand the English – good luck to you.

TIP: For the benefit of everyone, please have your money ready BEFORE you get to the window or the machine. If you don’t you’ll get a lot of frustrated sighs.
TIP: The small blue tokens make for very cheap souvenirs

Go through the gates

Ukrainian access gates are the exact opposite of English gates.  The token goes in the right side, and you walk through the LEFT side. I repeat, token right, body left.

Its also wise to leave a 1 second pause before you enter to give the token time to register. Listen for the beep.

If you don’t do this, or you forget the token altogether the turnstile wont open (if it has a turnstile) or an angry barrier will shoot-out from both sides and squash you.

Assuming, you get through OK – Congratulations! you’re in the system.

Now get down to the platform.

Usually, this means a trip on a long and fast escalator, but don’t worry – you’ll survive it. I’ve seen 90-year-old bag-carrying women get onto those escalators and blind people. They move fast, but the steps are quite big so don’t be scared.

3. On the platform

Once you’re on the platform, you’ve made it. All you need to do is wait by the correct side (one side for each direction) and then wait for the Metro train.

Unlike the London Underground, each station serves one line. So, one side of the platform goes in one direction, the other side goes in the opposite direction. Its simple.

By the time you arrive here in Kiev, you should find that each station has a name and a number. If you don’t speak Russian or Ukrainian, I would use the numbers because the names can be hard to say.  However, if you are asking for a station, you will need to know the name. The station numbers are new and have been introduced in March 2012. They don’t mean anything to the locals who live here.

4. Boarding and train etiquette


Getting on or off the train can be fun and/or annoying because Ukrainians do not like to wait. They will try to get on the train before you have time to get off and they will push straight past you in order to get on first.

You’ll encounter this ‘me first’ attitude a lot in Ukraine where in other countries you might expect a queue. However, try not to get angry. Ukrainians are often pushy, but they are very rarely (if ever) violent. Just accept that they don’t queue, and join in the fun.

Also, don’t expect to get on the train before any middle-aged or old women. They will push there way on before you. Get over it.

On the train

If you’re lucky you’ll have space to breath or even a seat, but its unlikely. Normally you’ll need to stand, squeezed firmly in the middle of a crowd of train ‘friends’ .

To keep these train friends happy, try to remember these three rules:

1. give up your seat for old people, for people with kids (even if the kid is old enough to stand) and for couples. Yes, the last one is strange, but you’ll love it when someone moves so you can sit by your lover.

2. Don’t move or talk too much. Ukrainians are very well behaved in public, and they like it when other people are too. Joking loudly with your friends or waving your arms during conversation is frowned upon. Talking or moving is not illegal, but its not encouraged either.

3. Don’t stand on peoples shoes. Shoes are a big deal in Ukraine, a very big deal. You have been warned 🙂

Finally, please note how clean and tidy the metro stations are. They are meticulously cared for and regularly cleaned by hand. Ukrainians almost never drop litter inside the metro system and you shouldn’t either. If you have any rubbish, hold onto it until you exit the station, there are bins next to each entrance and exit.

5. Leaving the train and the platform

When you get to your platform, gently push your way off the train, try not to hit the people who are trying to get on the train (as you’re still getting off)  and look for your exit/вихід.

6. Useful info

Here’s the best map of the Metro network

The head office is located on, Prospekt Pobedy 35, next to the “Polytechnic Institute” metro station on the red line.

You can call them on:
+38 (044) 238-58-55
+38 (044) 238-58-98
+38 (044) 238-58-73

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City guide: Dnipropetrovsk

A native’s guide to Dnipropetrovsk

By Yulia Pentko


I would be happy to tell you more about my hometown Dnipropetrovsk. Although it has very long and difficult to pronounce name Dni-pro-pet-ro-vsk a long time ago it used to have a shorter one: Ekaterinoslav.  It was named and founded in honor of Ekaterina the Great (Catherine the Great) who was a  Russian empress more than two centuries ago. Dnipro (this is a short little name for my beautiful city) is situated in the heart of central Ukraine, exactly in the middle of the country. And the river Dnipro takes its long way through the city.

Dnipro is big industrial and business center.  You can find a lot of highly developed industrial plants and a few government classified institutions, such as “Yuzhmash” (The A.M. Makarov Yuzhny Machine-Building Plant) which specializes on space technologies.

I was born here over twenty years ago and I still live here. Why?  Because I have been traveling abroad and I have seen another completely different cities, but the fun is here. It is also a good place for business.

What you should defiantly know about Dnipropetrovsk is that it has such a funny and chaotic type of transportation – the Marshrutki (mini-buses). You should always tell the driver when and where you need to stop before you arrive there.

Also, our Dnipro citizens like beer very much and there are plenty of places where you can buy a drink. If someone takes you for a beer somewhere you should expect some adventures.

And don’t underestimate “babushkas” (old grannies), they can always overtake, fight, kick and swear you. It’s not a joke it’s a caste!

I don’t advise you to eat on the streets alone, but if you still want to, try to find a local friend to tell you what the best place is. We have a joke about it: “Buy four shaurmas (special meal) and collect a cat!”

What to see

If you are going to spend some time in Dnipropetrovsk there are a few places which would be interesting for you:

First of all it is our riverside. It is the longest embankment in Europe and it is very beautiful.  Many citizens prefer to spend their time on the riverside on warm summer, spring and autumn days, evenings and afternoons. You can meet many different types of people there. Such as bikers on their Harley-Davidson and Yamaha, hip-hop dancers, yoga masters doing their exercises on fresh green grass,  guys with slack line and poi, fish men, musicians and usual walkers.

Europe's longest embankment - Dnipropetrovsk

Europe's longest embankment - Dnipropetrovsk

You also have to see Monastirsky island. Different from Dnipropetrovsk, it has thousands of years of history.  Starting from the ancient Skiff tribes and ending with a story about Potemkin’s treasures inside the Island.  Nowadays there is a big park with many different attractions.  And on the park side above the Island there is a very beautiful view on the riverside.

If you go over the bridge to this Island, exactly under the bridge (you have to climb down to get there) you will find another very beautiful view of the river.  If you go below the bridge you will also find a nice climbing wall, where climbers and tourists practice.

Our city has a very good theater for an act called “Krik”, they perform ones a week. And I haven’t met anyone who was unsatisfied with it. The actor Michael Melnik is the only actor and director of the performances. He has won many theater awards.  Among his famous performances you can see “Lolita”, “Mollis”, “Taras Bulba”, “Perfume” etc.

If you are a football fan you would be  very happy to visit our new Stadium, which we have built for Euro 2012. It is exactly in the downtown and it has a name “Metallurg”.

The next place is not famous by any means, but I really like Barikadnaya str., it is in the downtown, next toKarla Marksa Central Avenue. There are many Tilia trees and a big rose supermarket. If you walk along the street when Tilia blossoms you can smell all the wealth of flavor of them around you. I really enjoy such walks.  By the way there is a very nice small restaurant “Pastoral” where you can have a cup of very nice coffee and some sweets.

If you go further along the street you will meet the biggest Jewish culture center in the world “Menorah”. It has the form of seven-branched ancient lamp stand Menorah.

The botanical gardens, many wild beaches, and an old pinewood on the city line, – all these places are awesome to visit during summer. I would also take you to “Balka”, this is a huge deep gorge not far from center, my friends and I use to have picnics there, camp and walk on slack line above the valley. It is a very quiet and wild natural place.


If you come in winter you can go skiing or snowboarding at “Lavina” sport center.

Finally, if you want to have a cup of a good coffee you better go to “Coffee room” café. It is small and nice place with very delicious coffee. But if you want to feed yourself well go to Puzata Hata. They serve traditional Ukranian dishes.


If you want to visit Dnipropetrovsk, you can always use the railway and bus services. Trains and buses come here from any big city inUkraineand few cities abroad, such asWarsaw,Moscow,Baku, Kishenev etc. Indeed, you can fly by plane. But the easiest way would be to travel here fromKiev.

Good luck in your journey and enjoy Dnipropetrovsk!


Dnipropetrovsk central train station

Dnipropetrovsk central train station

About this guide

Our city guides are written for you by Ukrainian’s who live, or have lived in the guide city. If you would like to write a guide to your city or become a city ambassador, please write to Ian at: ian@bluetoyellow.com

Can you explain Ukraine?

This website (bluetoyellow.com) was set up with a simple mission: uncover Ukraine.

It is a fun mission and it is a fascinating mission – but we need your help. We need you to help us explain Ukraine.

Our writers and editors all work full-time on other projects and for other companies, but we write whatever we can, whenever we can and then we share this with you and with the world. The problem is, Ukraine is a big place.  Actually it is very big place and it is incredibly varied.  Even if we never slept and wrote non-stop 24 hours a day – it would still be too big for us to cover.

So, we want all our readers and followers to help us. We want you to send us stories about Ukraine.

Do you live in Ukraine? Are you Ukrainian? Have you spent some time in Ukraine? If so, then I’m sure you have a story to tell  …and we are all waiting to hear it!

We want this site to be a detailed collection of essays, articles, opinions, stories and videos which will lift the lid on Ukraine and shine light on the many curious aspects of Ukrainian life.

Don’t worry if you are not a native English speaker, we will work with you to correct your grammar and in some cases we could even translate articles from Ukrainian and Russian.

Unfortunately, we can’t pay you (we don’t make any money) and writing for us won’t get you an invitation to the Oscars. But you will earn the love and admiration of our readers, and you will be able to sleep well – happy in the knowledge that you are helping to promote this country around the globe.

Here are some ideas for articles:

We all love stories, and somehow life in Ukraine leads us on the craziest of journeys. So, please share your experiences with us. This could be something short (maybe something happened while you were out walking, riding the metro or during your work) or perhaps you’re a keen writer and have written a longer story about a journey or other mission.

The obvious option is to review businesses, events and restaurants, and these are all very good. However, we also want to read about interesting buildings, or places. Do you have a favourite place to sit and relax? Where can you see an amazing view? and where’s the best place to drink vodka and eat shashlik on a summer day?

Tell us about the Ukrainians. The good the bad, the ugly and the incredible. What do they do, how did you meet them, why are they interesting? what did you learn from them? Do they have interesting or strange jobs? We want to know about them.

Photos and funny stuff
We all know Ukrainians LOVE taking pictures, so please share the best/most interesting/funniest with us.

Here’s your chance to help others. Help us survive in Ukraine, share your expertise and teach us something useful. Where should we shop and how do we get there? How do you find an apartment? What about studying here? or booking a holiday? What should I do if I want to eat salo in a Ukrainian village in spring?

Nature and the Environment
Ukraine is a large and diverse place. From the mountains in the West, to the wonderful Black Sea coast in Crimea – the country has some inspiring natural sites and some unique wildlife.

Food and Drink
We all love food, share your recipes or suggest a good place to eat.

Tell us how you keep fit. What’s happening in the sporting world? Where can we try these sports? What are the latest health crazes sweeping the nation? From pilates to parachute jumping, we want to know.

We look forward to working with you and we look forward to sharing your stories with the world.

For submissions, or if you have any further questions please write to Ian Bearder at ian@bluetoyellow.com

Kind Regards
The bluetoyellow team

PS, many thanks to all of you who have already submitted articles and work.

State Air Museum

Have you every wanted to see a MiG-28 do a 4G negative dive?

Well, you can’t because MiG 28’s don’t exist. However, the State Air Museum of Ukraine does and it is paradise for Top Gun movie fans, plane enthusiasts, and everyone else in Kiev with some time to kill.

The museum is actually located on the same airfield as Kiev’s Zhulanay airport in the south East of the city (see map below) but you’ll need to find the museum entrance because its different from the main airport. The address is: 1,  Medova street, Kiev, Ukraine, 03048,

What’s there? well, lots of planes, helicopters and missiles.

Ukraine today may not be wealthy, but this country has a rich history of military innovation and the USSR built some amazing flying machines. This is the place to see them.

The museum is all outdoors, so choose a nice day to visit (or take your hat and gloves) and if you plan to stay for along time take some food and drinks because I didn’t see anywhere there to buy any.

Oh, and this day trip wont break the bank because it cost about 10UAH – that’s about 1 Euro.

State Air Museum, Ukraine

State Air Museum, Ukraine

State Air Museum, Kiev

State Air Museum, Kiev

State Air Museum, Kiev

State Air Museum, Kiev

For a more detailed explanation about the planes on show, follow this link

To see a lot more pictures, follow this link.

Gallery: Kiev

Scenes and shots from the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

Gallery: Kiev

A selection of photos from Ukraine’s capital city.

Riding the Forest Tram

Tram 12 to Pushcha-Voditsa

Tram 12 takes you through the forest to Pushcha-Voditsa

Like most Slavic people, Ukrainians have a deeply held belief that cold drafts can cause all kinds of serious illness, up-to and including death. Or worse. They also have ‘proven’ information to suggest that sitting on a cold hard seat can lead to infertility.

Feeling brave I decided to risk both and to head off on a Ukrainian tram mission.

A few months ago my manager told me about a spa resort outside of Kiev which you could reach by tram, and that the tram itself was pretty cool because it goes through a forest. I knew then that I had to check this out and despite the freezing weather, now was that time. I didn’t know the name of the place or which tram to take, but I wanted out of the city and a quick google search for ‘Kiev’, ‘tram’ and ‘forest’ provided the answers. I was set.

The town/spa resort is called Pushcha-Voditsa, and the tram line is number 12. It leaves from Kontractova Ploscha – next to the metro station. Luckily, that’s only a 15 minute walk from my home.

If you’re unfamiliar with the trams in Kiev, let me explain…

Built in Czechoslovakia in the bronze age, they are almost always driven by tough looking women, they are cold, they are uncomfortable and they are slow. However, this just adds to the experience. They are also super-cheap at just 10p a ride. So, if I didn’t go crazy, I could do the whole day out on less than 50p!

The tram was waiting to leave when I arrived, so I jumped on, paid the woman driver my 10p fare and settled my arse down on a rock-solid, ice-cold plastic seat. I was expecting it to be uncomfortable and I wasn’t disappointed.

For the most part, the tram chugs along through some average Kiev districts, some suburbs and past a few strange roadside markets. I shifted around in my seat to keep the blood flowing to my legs, I watched two school kids playing wraps (a game which involves punching your opponents knuckles until you miss) and I thought about life. What else can you do on a tram? Anyway, after 45 minutes boredom (and pain) gave way to a sense of adventure as the tram stopped on the edge of the city and then rolled off into the forest.

This is what I paid my 10p for, but to be honest, there wasn’t a lot to see, just tall autumnal trees and a rusty looking tram line weaving off into the future and back into the past. However, that’s why its cool. Within minutes you’re in a woodland corridor and could be a million miles from anywhere …but you’re there on a bloody-old tram, going very slowly with a bunch of locals and their shopping.

Anyway, the woodland voyage ends after about 15 minutes when you arrive in the perfectly peaceful town (village?) of Pushcha-Voditsa. I didn’t know where to got off so I decided I’d stay until the driver kicked me off. This was about 6 stops later at the end of the line and next to a small kiosk where I bought a Mars bar.

Then I realised that I had no idea about anything in P-Voditsa and no plan, so I started walking in the opposite direction of the town, up the road to a small lake and into the forest. The place is definitely sleepy, but it’s also beautiful, quiet and, like many towns in Ukraine, it feels like its stuck in a time gone by. Personally, I love this feeling but it did occur to me that this would also be the perfect setting for a low-budget horror film with kids camping and crazy people with chainsaws etc…

I’ll save you the rambling details of the rest of the day. You can see the beauty of the place in the pictures below. If the Ukrainians are right about cold seats – I may never have any kids (my buttocks get cold just thinking about those plastic tram seats), but it’s still a nice day out. Oh, and with the cost of a Mars bar the whole shebang cost me a pocket warming 55p!

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