AutoVAZ-2101 was the choice of wheels amongst Ukrainians able to afford a car, mainly because there was little other choice available during Soviet times, & today it's impossible to visit Ukraine & not see them all over the place...
Better known to many as the Lada 1200/1300, the VAZ-2101 was designed by Fiat as model 124, & licensed to be manufactured in the Russian AvtoVAZ (pronounced 'Aftavaz', in Russian, but 'Autovaz', in Ukrainian) factory in Togliatti, but not to be sold outside Soviet frontiers, where it would be in competition with the Italian made original...
Popularly called the Zhiguli within the Russian-speaking markets where it was sold, the VAZ-2101 differed on the outside from a Fiat 124, only in its manufacturer's badge, displaying a Viking longship, (incidentally, also a motif chosen by the British Rover company...)
However, the bodywork itself, was made of thicker quality steel than that on the Fiat 124, with its notorious corrosion problems in markets with damp climates, & also had a non-Fiat overhead camshaft engine, but only drum rear brakes...
Early models had a starter handle & auxiliary fuel pump, in attempt to make the car startable during the notoriously cold winters where AvtoVAZ were supplying...
Modifications to the carburettor, & especially the suspension, to make the car resistant to Eastern bloc, mud & gravel tracks, meant that though the Lada was something of a joke in western markets, it was a much better built car than the equivalent Fiat 124
The practical, status-free, Zhiguli, put Ukrainians on the road, from country-dwellers & city commuters, to taxi-eests, & the militia & Darozhna Transportniy Processhyestviy (DTP = transport police...)
There was even a long-wheelbase version for dignitaries!
Although a commonplace 3-box saloon, which was never a revolution in car styling, & outstanding only for its total lack of Italian auto-design flare, the Russian makeover of the Fiat 124 certainly created a durable vehicle, considering how many are still running on Ukrainian roads - some of the worst surfaced on the entire planet!
While in Ukraine, I received lifts in many Zhiguli's, & to be fair to them, they're comfortable enough mashines (colloquial Ukrainian/Russian for car, is simply: 'masheena' - nobody says 'automobil', like the textbooks tell you to...)
They have plenty of legroom & stretching space on the backseat (...I'm sure a countless amount of courting has been done in Zhiguli's, & no doubt many Ukrainians conceived in 1, but I digress...)
Ukrainians tend to personalise their Zhiguli's, often with traditionally embroidered cushions & rugs ('skaterky'), thrown over the seatbacks, much like they do to their home furniture...
However, my personal favourites are the boy racer Zhiguli's, transformed visually by stickers along the sides, with brandnames associated with touring car racing, such as Recaro, Sparco, Pirelli,etc...
For me, the VAZ-2101 is an icon of the former Soviet Union, a political superpower which led the spacerace, but when it came to consumer products such as cars, had to base upon an inferior western design, but ultimately improved upon it...
(If you've an enthusiasm for this idiosyncratic machine, check out the 'facebook' page - 'zhiguli'...)
Marshroutka is a derivative of the word, 'marshrout'; meaning - route/itinerary/schedule...
In western countries, this type of transport is either of a mini/microbus, & the design is familiar as elsewhere; either a Transit, or long-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz...
However, the procedure for travelling by marshroutka differs in Ukraine, & there are 2 different types of journey served by them...
City to city; (or city to airport); & to board such a marshroutka is as that of riding a bus elsewhere, in that the itinerary for route & times, is displayed where the vehicle leaves from, & you pay the driver upon entering...
The other type of marshroutka is an around town bus, which has set stops along the route, & the cost of journey differs according to distance the passenger intends to go...
This service differs from the long haul marshroutkee, in that the passenger boards & takes a seat, without paying the driver; the fare being passed down the aisle by giving a note to the passenger in front, who hands it in turn to the next seat...
It therefore makes sense to pay exact fare, or else you'll be travelling through inner city traffic, with a driver delving through his change purse - not really to be reccommended on Ukraine's obstacle ridden roads...
Marshroutka drivers do not operate on behalf of a bus company, but like taxi drivers, are owner-drivers, but charge much less than a taxi service, because of the volume of passengers catered to...
A typical fare will be about twice that of the equivalent bus route, for which you receive a seat, which is not guaranteed by the cheaper alternative, & the journey will probably be slightly quicker...
Marshroutkee are symbolic of Ukraine, many of them with personally decorated cabs by their drivers, though they do tend to be painted yellow outside, with route number & stops listed on a card inside the windscreen...
When we traveled to Ukraine in 2013, arranging train travel was probably the most confusing part of the whole experience, almost entirely out of language barrier. That being said, it certainly wasn't stressful enough for us to consider using an online agency who all have hilariously high markups on ticket prices. If you speak Ukrainian or Russian you will likely have no problems. For those who don't, here are some pointers:
Language: Nobody we encountered working for the railway, ticket windows or phone lines spoke English. We found even asking "Do you speak English?" would result in being hung up on, or the ticket window closing and us having to go to the back of the line. Save yourself some time and write down everything about where you want to go and when in Cyrillic, hand it to the ticket salesperson, and do your best to navigate any follow-up questions. As an aside, I'm not complaining about this; obviously people working in Ukraine shouldn't be expected to speak English!
Online Tickets: This worked out very well for us. The Ukrainian Railways website at http://booking.uz.gov.ua/en/ (English version) allows you to buy tickets with foreign credit cards then provides you with a confirmation code you can give at any ticket window, and the salesperson will retrieve your tickets. You can print out the confirmation. We didn't have access to a printer so we wrote something like "Please we have buy internet ticket" and the confirmation number in Ukrainian on a piece of paper and we got our tickets smoothly every time. The seating charts online are not accurate, so some seats pictured as together are actually in separate rows.
Book in advance: If you can, by a few days at least. We traveled over Orthodox Christmas and had trouble finding seats and sleepers together. I heard the summer months especially Fridays and Mondays are very busy as well. The 4-person sleeper cars are two sets of top and bottom bunks, and the bottom bunks always sell first.
Connections: The trains seem to mostly run on time but ticket salespeople warned us occasionally if our connection was shorter than 15-20 minutes, and one didn't want to sell us the tickets because if we missed it there were no other trains that day. We went for it anyways and the train was delayed by 10 minutes but we made it. A friend we met explained that if we ever did miss our train it would not be difficult to hire a private taxi basically from anywhere to anywhere in Ukraine if the price offered is high enough, but we never had to do it.
Train travel is the best way to see pretty much any country, Ukraine included. The trains are safe, comfortable, inexpensive, and we met some really great people. Please see my other tip about ticket booking if you're interested. We took some long trips in both sleeper cars, 1st class and 2nd class seats, and found all to be comfortable.
4-berth sleeper car: This was the first time I had ever been in this type of train car, and I honestly made a total ass of myself in front of a nice Ukrainian family. First of all, I didn't realize there was a ladder to the top bunk (I know, not too bright) so I was pulling some gymnastics to get myself and my giant bag up there. That's also worth mentioning- my bag is large and kind of rounded, and once someone pointed out that luggage is stowed under the bottom bunk, I had a hard time fitting it into the compartment and an even harder time getting it out. The train is slow and steady and the bunks are comfortable enough to sleep. Protocol seems to be for all passengers to sit on the bottom bunks until about 2200hrs, then beds are made with the kits provided and people climb up to the top bunks to sleep. There is no dining car so pack all the food and drinks you'll need.
Seats: The express trains and shorter routes have individual seats in 1st or 2nd class. The 2nd class seats were comfortable. Some were pretty old but nothing broken or dirty. The 1st class seats we traveled in (pictured) were in small separate compartments with a glass dividing door. The TV, radio and climate control didn't work but none were missed. The bathrooms were closed while at the station and were pretty clean; the most comfortable washrooms were not surprisingly in the 1st class cars and don't seem to close.
We really enjoyed the view and the totally interesting Ukrainian villages we passed through, and found traveling by train to be the easiest way to meet people and a highlight of our trip.
'0stanovka' is the word for bus stop in Russian, & they are a characteristic feature throughout Ukraine, especially noticeable in the countryside...
A great feature about Ukraine, is that you can never really be 'lost' 'cos every bus shelter has the name of the place where it's located, plainly cut-out of the concrete roof in bold letters, or written in individual, projecting metal type...
What a relief this is to find, if you've crossed the border after a lengthy ride through Poland, where nowhere has a proper placename signed to the traveller!
But what I really love about Ukrainian bus shelters, is what they say about the locality you happen to be passing through, because so many are decorated by locals, who obviously care about their community...
No 2 'ostanovy' appear quite the same, despite the standard 'soviet-style' construction in slab-sided, grey concrete cuboid with cut-out windows...
By the idiosyncratic use of etching, painting, or tiling with mosaic ceramic, some of these shelters are decorated enough to be worthy as works of art...
0ther 'ostanovky' have detailed murals drawn on the walls, & some are very brightly painted - blue & yellow, the national colours being a favourite pattern...
But even the dullest, greyest, most municipal of these functional structures, fulfils an important role to the foreign traveller, by instantly identifying where you are, as long as you can read the Cyrillic alphabet...
& in a country where you can easily feel alienated by being 'nyeroosskiy', this is a great comfort...
Travelling around Ukraine by Aeroplane can be very difficult. This is due to the fact that because Ukraine isn't a popular tourist destination you will only be able to get an international flight to Kyiv. Smaller cities such as Ivano-Frankivsk for example can only be reached via Aeroplane from Kyiv so it is important to do your research before you travel and look for alternative options of travel. The trains in Ukraine are very good and many of them are night trains where you can sleep and arrive at your destination the next morning, they are very well priced and will offer much more flexibility to your travel rather than having to go back to Kyiv every time you want to travel anywhere.
Cars can be hired at most Airports but again you have to think about where you are travelling to. If you are travelling outside of the cities and into more rural areas or small towns then it is almost guarenteed that the roads will have pot holes and you will have to drive slower to avoid damaging the hire car.
Buses are also a good option but are not as comfortable as trains and are ofcourse much slower, but the buses are very cheap.
Ukraine has some very unique and interesting places to visit and you should not be deterred from visiting there but in a nutshell I would advice you to plan your travel in advance to make the most out of your trip.
With this timetable type the first letter of the town in the "Timetable" box (the "Journey planner" box is appearantly more fussy about your input) and select then the station from the drop down menue (this works well with Firefox and Chrome browser but not with Internet Explorer)
Are you going to spend the night in Kryvyj Rih? I don't know any good places to stay in this city and there is nothing to do in this place at all, but in other case you will need to sleep in your car, because that is really long distance :-)))
i think if you use night trains you won't lose 2 days of your trip for a road and these days you can spend for excursion, but in other case your car will be useful to visit a lot of beautiful places around Yalta because many of Yalta’s attractions a short distance away.
Recently Ukrzaliznytsya (Ukraine Givermental Railway Authority) introduce new system of buying train tickets on-line.
Unfortunately the system is designed only in Ukrainian or Russian the the whole process of buying tickets is pretty complicated even for locals.
However you can find step by step guidelines in English how to buy train tickets directly and avoid commissions here: http://www.ukraine-travel-secrets.com/ukraine-train-ticket.html
Don't forget that even after paying you still have to collect your ticket in one of ticket offices in Ukraine.
All the best :-)
You can see these old license plates everywhere in the country.
Although there are new license plates now (see below), the old and the new ones coexist together.
13 means a region of Ukraine.
The biggest number of the region was 28,
Luhansk region being 13,
Crimea being 01,
Kiev being 10 and 11,
Odessa - 16, etc.
This is the table of old Ukrainian license plates just in case:
01 KP,KO, KT = Republic of Crimea
02 BI, BT, BX = Vinnitsa region
03 BO, BK, BM = Volyn region
04 AA,AB,AE,AK,AH = Dnipropetrovsk region
05 EA, EB, EE, EK, EH, EO, EC = Donetsk region
06 BA, BB = Zhytomyr region
07 PE = Transcarpathian region
08 HA, HE, HO, HP, HC = Zaporizhia region
09 IB, IC = Ivano-Frankivsk region
10 KK, KX, KM = Kiev region
11 KA, KI, KB, KH, KE = City of Kiev
12 OM, OH, OC = Kirovohrad region
13 AM, AO, AP, AT, AX = Luhansk region
14 TA, TB, TH, TC = Lviv region
15 HI, HK, HT = Mykolayiv region
16 OA, OB, OE, OK = Odessa region
17 CK, CH, CC = Poltava region
18 PB, PA, PO = Rovny region
19 CA, CB, CE = Sumy region
20 TE, TI, TK = Ternopil region
21 XA, XE, XI, XK = Kharkiv region
22 XO, XH = Kherson region
23 XM, XT = Khmelnitsk region
24 MA, MB, ME = Cherkassy region
25 MK, MM, MH = Chernihiv region
26 MO, MP, MC = Chernovtsy region
27 KC = City of Sevastopil
Don't be surprised to see such different colors.
White means : cars;
Blue means militia (police) vehicles;
Yellow means shuttle mini-buses and city buses (city transport);
Green stands for vehicles taken off the register. This color os rather rare for such license plates are temporary and are issued as a makeshift to deliver a vehicle from one part of the country to another. I personally have not seen any green plates yet.
Ukraine has a very good railway system. It is probably the best way to get around the country. Cheap and comfortable.
The cheapest compartment is "General"-"Obshchiy vagon". Not recommended. Just sitting places, a lot of people, in winter it could be cold there.
Next is so called "Platskart". Not bad for money. Major of local people travel in platskart carriage. You'll get a bed to sleep, but no doors in your compartment. So it'll be like a big hostel room. Only 2 bathrooms for about 56 people. Some of my foreign friends were brave enough to go in platskart, just out of curiosity, and found it not so scary as some ukrainians can describe it for you. (of course it's better to travel not alone :-))
Third is "Koopey". More comfortable carriage. You will get only 4 people in your compartment, beds are softer than in "platskart". A little more expensive than the "platskart" and it's worth the money:-)
You'll have to pay extra money to get sheets for your bed. Will be a little more than $1...
And finally, forth, and the best is a LUX carriage. 2 people at the compartment. Usually business people are traveling at such carriages.... but there are sometimes more chances to loose your belongings at such places if you are traveling alone.
Nearly all trains have a restaurant/bar carriage where you can have a snack and a drink.
They also offer you tea/coffee at "platskart"/"koopey"/lux carriages.
There are also new express trains from /to Kiev - Donetsk - Kharkiv - Dniepropetrovsk. Very fast, comfortable, with TVs, special carriage for traveling with kids, also a carriage for cars.
The best way to travel to Ukraine is to arrive to Boryspil International Airport in Kiev.
If your place of destination is in other regions of Ukraine, you can take a direct flight there from Terminal A at "Boryspil" International Airport.
If you choose to travel by car (using the car rentals - $100 a day, by the way!),
you will have to be very careful about the traffic regulations,
you will hardly find any road signs in English
and you will have to study some Ukrainian to get around
and, what's more, you will have to overcome all the charms of our Spartan roads containing lots of decent portholes.
You may hire a taxi from ranks at any bus stop throughout the city or a town in Ukraine.
The taxi fare about the city is $5 (around the city) depending on the city and distance.
If you wish to make a longer journey, say, out of the city area, it's a good idea to arrange fare calculations with the driver before starting.
***NEWS: Citizens of the following countries can now visit Ukraine
without a visa for periods of up to 90 days over a 180 day period
with a valid passport:
USA, Canada, Japan, EU nations, Switzerland,
Liechtenstein, Andorra, Vatican, Iceland, Monaco,
Norway, San Marino, Mongolia, Lithuania and the
countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States
Citizens of these countries can stay in Ukraine for up
to 90 days within any 180 day period without a visa.
For longer stays a visa will be required. Until recently
there was no 180 day stipulation, which meant that
foreigners could simply cross the Ukrainian border
every 3 months and avoid getting a visa. Now, as of July 11, 2007
this is no longer possible . If you intend to stay in Ukraine for
more than 3 months, you will have to get a visa.
Entry Requirements to Ukraine for U.S. Citizens
(from the site of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv — also applicable to all countries listed above)
A passport valid for six months beyond the planned date
of travel is required.
According to Ukrainian Presidential Decree #1008 dated June 30, 2005
(with amendment dated August 18, 2005), U.S. citizens traveling to
Ukraine on short-term tourist, business or private travel do not need a
visa to enter Ukraine. Visas are still required of other categories of
travelers including those who intend to study, reside, or work in Ukraine.
Short-term travelers entering Ukraine under the auspices of this decree
can stay in Ukraine up to 90 days... >>
However, you still must have a passport with you to enter Ukraine!
Starting with April 1, 2004 new Ukrainian cars should only receive new license plates representing a stripe with Ukrainian colors and inscription UA on the left, two letters that stand for the region, four digits and two more letters showing the ordinal series.
The initial two letters were taken one by one from the alphabet and represent the following regions:
II 1234 AB: the initial II means state number, it does not refer to any region and is only given to different state bodies (and, as an exception, to some very respectable V.I.Ps);
whereas such license plates as BB 0707 MI clearly indicate that the vehicle is from the militia, although of late the militia has given up that habit and now anybody can get the MI license plate;
such license plates as BB 0211 XX indicate by the final XX that the vehicle is a cargo trailer (by the way, XX is pronounced in Russian and Ukrainian as "ha-ha"): BH 7090 XX means: a cargo truck from Odessa region.
However, some V.I.P.s prefer to order such a license plate to distinguish themselevs from the "small fry". So, if I had a car with a modest license plate BB 1408 XX, you would think I am a well-connected (and perhaps respectable) guy...
Some V.I.P.s who wish to have a state body plate II, can have it too. If they want to stress they are VIP squared, they can get the last letters XX, which means, "Don't you dare to stop me!" or something like that... So, a car with a license plate II 0124 XX only shows you belong to the elite... And, of course, if one has a license plate II 2222 XX, it means a lot...:-)
Ukrainian regions and their letters now:
AI Kiev region;
AK Crimean Republic;
AB Vinnytsya region;
AC Volyn region;
AE Dnipropetrovsk region;
AH Donetsk region;
AM Zhytomyr region;
AP Transcarpathian region;
AO Zaporizhya region;
AT Ivano-Frankivsk region;
BA Kirovohrad region;
BB Luhansk region;
BC Lviv region;
BE Mykolayiv region;
BH Odessa region;
BI Poltava region;
BK Rovny region;
BM Sumy region;
BO Ternopil region;
AX Kharkiv region;
BT Kherson region;
BX Khmelnitsky region;
CA Cherkassy region;
CB Chernihiv region;
CE Chernovtsy region.
The letters standing after the four digits indicate each series and are issued in turn: AA, AB, AC, AE, AH, AI, AK, AM, AO, AP, AT, AX, which is followed by BA, BB, BC, etc.
Yes, you will get hassled trying to arrive in Ukraine on a one way ticket without some type of work or residency visa. I had been attempting to a similar thing - arriving via a one way ticket. (I will be teaching English - getting the proper work visa wherever - so I don't know when I would be returning.) Basically you need to have a round trip ticket that has dates within what your ticket states.
I will be arriving in Warsaw instead, as Poland has no problem (I spoke to an honorary consulate in the USA who told me I will have no problem.)
This was one of the few hotels my colleague and I could find free rooms. We were visiting the day...more
Super Hotel, just perfekt. Best location, at the end of Franko park 5-700 m south of city center.more
My American friend Jack stayed at this new hotel for several days and he was kind enough to take me...more
More Regions in Ukraine