OMG!!!! I cant believe you guys!!!! Why are you dicking this poor kid around like this???
First of all, If its your very first trip to Ukraine then 10 days is plenty. save the long stay
until after you get accustomed to the place. By the 3rd week Im often ready to come home. I just
returned again 3 weeks ago from there.
NEVER trust someone you havent met in person before.
NEVER carry much cash, either Ukrainian or Dollars ATMs are plentiful and most will dispense up to
Hr2000-2500 in one transaction. I did it 3 weeks ago multiple times from multiple machines.
If you are spending more than 50-100 bucks (Hr400-800) for a night out with a lady then you are
being ripped off. I can get a nice hooker for Hr400 and 1000 for high end stay the night types.
Travel by train is not bad if you can read/write Ukrainian and can by first class tickets(which are cheap)for
travel from kiev-Kharkov($22). Overnight trains have 2 or 4 bed options (from 12-18) I often buy the whole compartment for privacy but have met some interesting people when I havent bought all the beds.
Air travel has become expensive, but is the preferred method for country hopping as other posters have
commented on the border crossings by train although I havent had any troubles myself.
I typically use "Green Dot" debit mastercards and visa cards as they are easy to get in US at CVS, Walgreen and Wal-Mart, you can put up to 3000 on each one and they work in every ATM Ive ever tried them on in Ukraine. ATM fees average about 5 bucks per transaction which includes foreign transfer fees and both bank's charges. NEVER use your bank debit card and use credit cards sparingly and only when absolutely necessary.
This will reduce the chances of identity theft.
We're just giving the best advice we have. All of veteran travelers have tips that have worked for us and all of us have our preferences.
Personally I think its a LOUSY idea for him to bring $7,000 with him. On my first few trip - before feeling confident in the ATM system - I would bring $1,500 with me in cash, in $20's (new, undamaged) and I think THAT was way too much.
Also - unless someone can speak the language or has A LOT of experience traveling internationally- I would never try to meet more than a couple or three girls on a single trip. Train tickets are incredibly difficult to get by yourself - unless you use an agent. Train stations do NOT have english directions or english speaking ticket sales people. Finding the platofrm your train is on is tough enough without knowing the language.
A girl may be real sweet and inviting through emails - but as we know - often times those emails are agency written or done for a split of the proceeds.
If this guy is trusting the girls to be who they say they are - and planning to move around Ukraine like a native - by himself and with no langusage skills - I think he is going to be hit by reality real quick.
Some time ago we had a few writers here who recounted their horror stories.
Guy who went to small town and were unable to meet the girl they wanted to meet. "Heplful" girls who set up apartments at many multiples of going rates - even guys who were held prisoner literally until they paid ridiclous somes to get the hell out of wherever they were stuck.
Last time I was in KIev I met a guy who was an accomplished world traveler - I was told his passbook looked like a phone book it was so thick. This guy had been to more than 95 countries - including his most recent trip to N. Korea. Lets just say he knew the ropes about traveling.
Well - his luggage was lost on his trip to Kiev and he was notified, somehow that he was to go to the airpost the next day to pick it up. A corrupt customs guy met him and demanded that he list on paper everything that was in his luggage. Of course he made some mistakes - for which the customs guy insisted he was in a lot of trouble for trying to "smuggle" undeclared items into Ukraine. If memory serves me correctly he ended up paying something like $400 (per bag? not sure) just to collect his lost luggage. I KNOW that he was threated with incarceration if he didn't pay.
The police and governemnt people are very often NOT YOUR FRIENDS.
Think of Ukraine a littel like the Wild West (where you don't speak the language) and you might be better off.
Quote from jetmba - "Train tickets are incredibly difficult to get by yourself - unless you use an agent. Train stations do NOT have english directions or english speaking ticket sales people. Finding the platofrm your train is on is tough enough without knowing the language."
Why go without learning the language? I don't mean becoming fluent, but it's really not that hard to learn what my teacher calls "survival Russian" (and carry a good phrasebook at all times). What you pick up from just a few lessons (e.g. night school or a short university course) will impress the hell out of the woman or women you're going to meet, simply because so many men on this quest DON'T BOTHER! Even if you don't learn more than the five phrases you need in every language (yes, no, please, thank you and where's the toilet?) it will still get you smiles of appreciation from people who realise that you've actually made an effort.
The absolute minimum for the FSU, though, is to learn the alphabet. Even if it takes you five minutes to work out the spelling out a name (street, town or whatever) for yourself, think of the sense of achievement when you realise that you've got it right! Look at all the stories or trip reports you see where the guy starts off with some variation of "I landed in Moscow and had no idea where to go because I couldn't read the signs...!"
As for getting train tickets, you can buy them online for any trains in the FSU (although you may find that your non-FSU credit card won't be accepted - Visa is definitely accepted at the stations). If you have to get them at the station, basically all you need is the name of the city you're going to, the time the train departs, and the number of tickets you need. Write it down (in Cyrillic - it will be good practice), give it to the ticket clerk, hand over the money...what's so difficult? Also, several of the railway stations I used in Russia did have English alternating with Russian on the electronic displays.
For me, the biggest hassle with train travel is having to heave a full suitcase up to the train from a platform which is way too low or has a big gap between it and the carriage! Getting ready in a compartment in an overnight sleeper for the first time is also quite an experience. The people you meet on the train will be the friendliest you meet in your trip. It won't matter if you can't say more than a few words to each other - just enjoy the moment!
Zarky,, you are seriously doing this the hard way, you are a trooper:)
are you sure you arnt irish? i reckon keep to one country first trip..
dont know about the funds, i feel it could be inadequate for the time you are suggesting and what you are up to, nothing is simple there like Canada for anything other the alcohol.
i travel as cheap as i can, the place really just wants to fleece ya.
also you cannot trust anyone there, specially if they know you are stuck..
if you don't speaky the language it makes things real painful there, if you dont do your homework and pre-organise stuff.
then there's Russia, its worse, it makes Ukraine a holiday,, business visa"s, been there done that, bad bad idea.
have railed up into Russia from Kharkov , custom police were interesting but ok to me.
2 half months on that visa,,, thats when the system can really have a field day with you, these supposedly need to be stamped (any visa) in each city if you are there for more then three days in each city, bloody nightmare, no hotels will stamp business visa's, only the business sponsoring you and associates are involved with this, so you need to bribe "dont know who the f**k to keep yourself legal, cost me $100us for that stamp, i sure wasn't going to carry on with that, i was lucky i got checked by cops only when i was legaly sweet.
but hey, finding that someone to stamp it in any city, f**k sakes,,, it was lucky i was staying mainly in that one city and traveling back and fourth from it.
backpackers are 50US$ a night in Kiev or Moscow, people do not like renting apartments to forigners , so you can see the issues of sleeping.
language barrier is half a problem and the system is the other,,, good luck..
Jetma, Im not disagreeing with you on advice. just the picking on the new guy stuff,lol.
I know my first trip by myself I did write all those things required to buy train tickets on a small notebook
and then had sample tickets to read and make sure I got right ticket. (Kiev has dual language platform signs at train station).
I had learned language some, and the ladies did like it but I still was amazed at what I was lacking
especially when people were talking fast. I never did that to myself again. i learned to read decent
and speak right so I dont stand out so much:)
Of course we know if a person and his gal end up spending lots of time or living together then its imperative
to learn the language.
just some things I'd like to point out...
'I am visiting many cities and meeting many ladies...
'I know they are real because I saw them on the webcam...
'I have no problem spending money on someone I love...
'I want to cross over into russia - any advice?...
the only real advice I can give to zarkey is to register with the embassy, get travel insurance - make sure there is an emergency medical evacuation clause - and make sure someone from your home town knows how to get in touch with you. and also read some info on HIV in Ukraine.
I took very low risk trips but I did all of the above. I only visited Kiev but I studied the map weeks before I left, learned the streets etc - the boy scout in me.
When I went to Russia I had no clue because it was a big city. But the Russian people were much friendlier and helpful than the average schmo in NYC. Although very different, travel into Russia was a very pleasant and memorable experience. And I believe what may be a factor in the difference between Russia and Ukraine is that Russians are not used to Americans being all over their towns hunting down the local women. Ukraine on the other hand Ukraine has a bunch of pissed off men who think of American men as the enemy coming to steal their women. Just an opinion of course. Am I trying to scare zarkey? Not in the least. Just want the lad to understand that it not like visiting California scoping the beach for Betties.
The Bankomats seem to have their own (relatively low) limits of how much cash they will dispense per transaction. This is annoying for me, because my US bank charges a fee each time, and with limit amounts this fee costs me 2 or 3 percent.
Do you know what these limits are, and which Bankomats have the highest limits?
Our is Bank of New Zealand
We use Global Visa from them
I usually have it in Credit before I leave (or top up via internet transfers from here)
We get charged $7NZ each withdrawal so that why we have got wise to which Kiev ATM spit out the max limit of 8000grv or $1000US
Underground shopping complex in kreschatik never fails
Middle level (2nd level same level as access to Metro) – there are 3 ATM’s together by steps.
But as I said above – most of the big Malls inside will give max.
If you try for 8000 or 6000 and it does not give – you wont incur a Bank charge and you need to try another one.