I knew when I embarked on my resolution this year to travel to 12 countries in 12 months, i’d visit many new and exciting destinations. Ukraine though hadn’t been on the agenda, in fact it hadn’t occurred to me that it was a viable destination considering the unrest in the southern region of the country. A couple of weeks ago however, when I was planning my next trip with a friend, some flights came up which were just too exciting to turn down! The possibility of flying Ukraine Airlines to Kiev, for the May bank holiday weekend.
Ok… to many the prospect of flying on a Ukrainian airline may perhaps not resonate particularly well, but Ukrainian airlines actually have a remarkably young fleet of planes, and all adhering to the strict aviation requirements which the European aviation authority dictate. I am of course excited to get to try out a new airline, I make a habit of trying new airline products if I can whenever I fly, for example my flight on SAS last weekend.
So what have I booked?
I’ve booked my Ukranian Airlines flight out of London Gatwick bound for Kiev, on Thursday 21st May, departing at 11pm and touching down in Kiev at around 4am local time (you’ll be pleased to know I didn’t pay anywhere near the listed price below!). Yes, it may seem the flight times are less than desirable but it works well for me considering i’m working up until the Thursday evening. This way I can drive over to Gatwick, link up with a friend who’s flying into Gatwick and most importantly have plenty of time to enjoy the business lounge (drink..) prior to departure. Upon arrival in Kiev, we’ll transfer to our hotel, the Ibis, located in the centre of town.
Due to the offers I leveraged to get cut price flights for this trip, I booked two one way journeys rather than a return trip. This can often work out cheaper, so it’s always worth checking both return/one way combos. My flight will return me to the UK on Monday 25th May, touching down in Gatwick at 11am. I chose against the Wizz air option because I’ll be leaving my car at Gatwick and won’t want to have to make my way from Luton on bank holiday Monday in order to collect it. Sometimes convenience over price.
After some researching I’ve found the Ibis to be just what we want. Centrally located and highly rated, this will serve the perfect “base” for our trip to Kiev.
I’ll be providing a full review of the hotel complete with video in a couple of weeks.
So what is there to do in Kiev?
Isn’t this an easy one? I’ve dying to try Chicken Kiev’s of course!? Despite popular belief, Chicken Kiev is not a national dish of Ukraine but was invented by a French chef in the 1800s. It is however widely embraced in Ukraine as a popular dish so I will of course be indulging in this as well as other local delicacies.
So in terms of key landmarks and what I’ll be seeing..
Chernobyl National Museum
Being that Chernobyl is located only 110km away, I feel this would be a rare opportunity to see close hand what happened. Now seeing as i’m only here for a few days I won’t be making the journey to Pripyat to see the site of the Nuclear meltdown, coupled with the fact you need to gain a government day pass to view the area however: there is a spectacular Museum located in central Kiev, displaying all things Chernobyl which is a highly rated and recommended attraction.
Jurassic Dream Island Aquapark
To me waterparks and Kiev don’t go hand in hand. But why not? Whilst a few of the reviews throughout the winter left rather colourful feedback the vast majority suggest it’s a real experience! I’m still not so sure so i’ll give you my honest feedback in a couple of weeks!
Great Patriotic War Museum
Seeing that Kiev was well and truly behind the Iron certain until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, this will be an interesting visit, with tanks, planes, ammunition and guns I feel this could be quite the experience.
Kiev Perchersk Lavra
Think catacombs, monks and golden and you’ve got this famous landmark in one. I’m keen to see what makes this the number one attraction in Kiev, known locally as a wonder of Kiev!
I’ll update you before I go, but this looks to be quite the Eastern European experience. I’ve had some strange remarks already in reference to my planned trip, due to the civil unrest throughout Ukraine. For me, i’ve done a lot of research on the safety and current situation in Kiev, and I’m more than comfortable in visiting. I’m not one to comment on any political / wartime situation but it’s a shame that the damage that this has done to the tourism industry for what has historically been a well trodden tourist honeypot.
Extended weather forecast for my visit… looks pretty sunny to me!
Photo credit – Ukraine International Airlines & Trip Adviser