Over Christmas, Katya and I decided to go on a trip around Ukraine, with our final destination being Slavske in the Carpathian mountains.
First we went to her home city of Nikolaev or Mykolaiv depending on whether you identify with the Russian or Ukrainian spelling. It’s a mid sized city and used to be a ship building port. Mykolaiv also features a city hall building that was modelled on Buckingham Palace.
After Mykolaiv, we went to Kiev, Lviv and then onwards to the mountains. I’d been wanting to go here for a while, all my students rave about it during classes. We arrived at our destination, Slavske late in the evening to heavy snowfall and sub zero temperatures. Normal for Katya but bloody freezing for me!
It’s a fairly small town consisting of a restaurant, a few small convenience stores and an array of ski rental shops. It does have a train station though, which is very handy. The restaurant Maxim was well priced, offered good food and the waitress spoke English. We went there a few times, since it was easier than cooking in the hotel.
Travelling around the town is made possible by the use of snow taxis or as I like to call them, crazy Ukrainian drivers! Hammering down a snowy road at breakneck speed and then side skidding to a halt. Still, nothing compares them to Albanian drivers. The really were crazy.
We had split accommodation, a couple of nights in one place and then a 3rd in another. Our first dwelling was Sadyba Viktor. We found it easy enough in the dark, since it was lit up like the Griswold’s house.
I really liked this hotel, it was friendly, comfortable, reasonably priced and there was a kitchen available, which is ideal if you have a gluten free/lactose free diet like me. I’d definitely stay there again.
We then moved to the Smerekova Hata hotel. I would describe this place as a bit soulless. The room was lovely but there was just an unfriendly feel in the air and the reception guy wasn’t exactly the happiest or the most helpful. I wouldn’t recommend it.
Katya was keen to go on an excursion, I wasn’t too sure at first but once we got going I warmed up to the idea.The original plan was to see bears in the wild but that particular trip wasn’t running so we opted for a different one. So we bundled into a minibus and set off down the snowy highway.
After drinking from rivers and wells we hiked up a mountain to see a frozen lake, trying our best not to fall arse over tit! We also met 2 bears, Masha and Dasha, in a small wildlife sanctuary.
All in all, I enjoyed it. The scenery was spectacular and we got to see more of the mountains. Next time I’d quite like to try some off-road quad biking.
I’m an avid skier and have been many times over the years. Katya put skis on for the first time in Kiev. The intention was to do a couple of days skiing in Slavske but it didn’t work out that way. Skiing is hard and teaching someone to ski is even harder.
I’m not known for my lasting patience so I wasn’t the best or most understanding person in trying to teach Katya to ski. Maybe we’ll go somewhere again and she can have more lessons with a professional. Once you learn how to ski, there’s nothing quite like it.