Ukraine 101 – the class for beginners/ Автор: Габріела Сєвковська

There is my short story from my last (second) trip to Kiev. I hope I’ll explain to you Kiev’s magic happens. And how to find yourself there. But let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

From Warsaw to Kiev in a budget

After years of many internships and small jobs from time to time finally, I can say to everyone that I have a full-time job which allows me to support myself. I pay my bills and pay for my drinks. I’m officially an adult. And I’m taking my vacation days and I’m going to Kiev ASAP (I work in the corporation and sell my soul there, forgive me my language). Nobody will stop me. I’ll finally meet my Ukrainian friends. We’ll have a good time. No, pardon — GREAT time! My real adventure. Ukraine, Kiev. Yes. Let’s go, girl! So I decided. I called my trip «Bieda trip» In polish «bieda» means «poor» but lemme explain — by that, I meant that I’ll spend the minimum amount of money for transportation and accommodation and at the same time enjoy the city the most. Yes, I like making my life more difficult. The struggle is my second name. Yup. I will face the consequences of my recklessness and miserliness, just hear my story be patient. Party hasn’t even started.

My fabulously cheap budget:

— second-hand pro backpack form OLX. pl — 70 PLN

— tickets Warsaw-Winnitsa by bus. YES, by BUS, YES I’m crazy — 82 PLN (btw, paid online in rubles)

— ticket Kiev-Winnica

— I honestly do not remember how much — maybe 30 hryvnia

— ticket Kiev-Warsaw, 82 PLN

— hostel in Kiev — 300 hryvnia

If you know the zloty exchange rate you already knew that my trip is really cheap. And If you have ever been in Ukraine you can say two more things. ONE: ‘You gonna regret your choice of traveling by bus, this is like 16 hours ride’. Yes I admit this it can be exhausting but I took the night bus so it wasn’t so bad. But traveling back was a big pain. THE ULTIMATE AGONY OF WAITING 10 EXTRA HOURS ON THE POLISH BORDER. This is the serious issue for a serious article. One day I’ll address it. Soon!

Photo by the author

TWO: Hostel can’t be so cheap! Yyy… yes can be. You have to look carefully or have kind Ukrainian friends who will help you with that.

The first stop — Vinnitsa

My good old friend Vaska and her husband live in Vinnitsa , the second best city to live in Ukraine. This is a fact, research shows it! And yes, this is the lovely city! When you are in Vinnitsa please stay for the night! You must fountain show — it’s amazing! Thank you Vaska for hosting me and showing me the city! Se you soon somewhere in the world 🙂

Taxi in Kiev

My level of Ukrainian and Russian is poor, to be honest. I’m really ashamed of it and make that fact public by putting this information here to motivates myself to finally do something about it. It already costs me 270 hryvnias for a taxi ride from the railway station to my hostel, approx 6km. Yeah, that sucked. But, this is the obvious thing — tourist without language more likely pays more. This rule works everywhere, I’m sorry to say that. At least I had really interesting and challenging conversation with my taxi driver. The really funny mix of Russian, Polish and English.

The Independence Square changed 

Photo by the author

I would even say this place become a big fountains complex. Very useful in the summer time! Even stairs are covered by running water on hot days. And on Saturday evening I really enjoyed the impressive fountain show.


I like metro. It’s fast and in most cases the cheapest way to travel in the city. My two favorites are in Kiev and Tbilisi. So this is what happened. Metro station Ukraine Palace. The token machine is broken so I’m waiting in the line to the cash. Holding in my hand 10 hryvnias and praying for being understood by the lady behind the glass. I started observing how people in the line before me approach her. Basically, they give her a money and collect tokens without a single word. Oh, thank you, Kiev for making this so simple. Lovely lady with no word gave me two blue old tokens. I could start my ride! If you are a fan of architecture you will appreciate Kiev’s metro. Every station is different in style and design. They are the typical example of soviet architecture but in a good way.

Dnepr, shisha and Kiev in night

Photo by the author

Sasha and have our little tradition. No matter what, when seeing each other (this is not happening every week, believe me, ok?) we always going for shisha, no matter what. Then we
discuss everything — what we are up to, what’s going on in politics. Our meeting in Kiev wasn’t an exception. We decided to go for shisha to place at the Dniepr’s beach. Beautiful view in front of us, we are enjoying damn good shisha and just behind us we had huge orthodox’s church. Like 100 meters behind me. In Poland, this situation would never happen. Believe me, nobody would dare to have shisha bar in open air in front any church. Event in this sweet location on the beach. Here in Kiev nobody sees that inappropriate or strange. People in the swim suits (swimming in Dnepr is not recommended! Do not to that, the same case like Vistula, to much unknown substances in the water.), kids are playing in the water. And a church is behind them, but who cares? It’s just another normal Sunday summer afternoon in Kiev. I found this scene refreshing and intrigue. Especially after next day when I saw how many people celebrated the Makovey holiday. Sitting on the beach I thought ’yeah, This is Kiev’. No worries, just enjoy the moment and relax. For those moments of pure happiness, I love traveling so much.