A layover in Ukraine? Sure!

I’m always checking flights for my Eurotrip this summer and today I came across a great deal… $341 from Paris to New York. Not quite as great as the $280 I got for my flight to Europe, but still a good deal. The only “problem” is a long layover in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.

Am I crazy for considering a 16-hour layover in Kiev? I don’t think so. But Ukraine hasn’t had the best press (at least in the US) in the last year. With the plane crash of Malaysia Airlines’ MH17 and Russia and Ukraine blaming each other for it, tensions are high between these two countries. Russian forces are occupying Crimea and the US Government has issued warnings against traveling to the eastern parts of the country.

I could also pay $10 more to have just a 1-hour layover in Kiev. So why choose an overnight one in this “dangerous” country?

Well, one big reason is the 1-hour layover flight starts at 5:50am and I’m no morning person. But I also want to show my friends and family that Kiev is safe. The capital is actually 600km from the “danger zone.” (Not to mention Kiev is dirt cheap! $5 for a private room in a hostel!)

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The real question is why wouldn’t I want to go to Ukraine? I want to be a traveller, not a tourist. I want to see and experience places not everyone goes to. I want to take chances and leave my comfort zone (I have zero knowledge of the Cyrillic writing system, so street signs will be a pain to figure out!).

So for 16 hours, I’m going to leave my comfort zone (and the airport) and explore Kiev. And I’m really, really excited about it!

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5 thoughts on “A layover in Ukraine? Sure!

  1. Katya Starfish says:

    Sara, where do I begin?… Russia is not exactly illegally occupying Ukraine, but that’s a long story… Ukraine is a very beautiful country with some gorgeous spots and tourist friendly. You definitely should not be afraid of going there (well, except for the places where shootings are happening right now, which is all over the news). Kiev is safe and so worth visiting! And since I see you’ve been visiting Ecuador, I am pretty sure there is no need in leaving your comfort zone in Ukraine 🙂

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    • saraglasbrenner says:

      Katya, thank you for the comment! I based my information in this post off of the US Gov’s travel warnings for Ukraine, here: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings/ukraine-travel-warning.html. I agree that Ukraine is a beautiful country with lots to see, and I’m really looking forward to my short time there! I wrote this post mainly to justify my decision to go there despite my family and friends’ concerns. Based on their reactions to my decision, I realized a lot of people (at least here in the states) think all of Ukraine is unsafe. Just the mention of using Ukraine International airlines made my family nervous 😦 Hopefully now they can read this post and see that the capital and a lot of the country is perfectly safe!
      Also, I think I’ll be a little more out of my comfort zone in Ukraine language-wise than in Ecuador because I’m proficient in Spanish but have no knowledge whatsoever of the Cyrillic writing system. But hopefully I can learn a few phrases before I go/the locals will help me out!
      Have you been to Kiev before? If so, do you have any recommendations on what to see?

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  2. Katya says:

    Thanks for the link!
    You and your family should not worry about going to Kiev at all. I have many friends who live in Kiev and it’s perfectly safe. The unrest is happening in the Eastern Ukraine only.
    I did not know you spoke Spanish 🙂 In this case, yes, you will probably have to leave your comfort zone a bit – not too much though, cause in tourist popular places most Ukrainians do speak some English.
    I have friends in Kiev, but I haven’t actually visited the city, so no advice here, sorry:(

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  3. Marie King says:

    Go for it! I think it’s very cool that you are taking the chance to experience a new place, even if for a short time. Stepping out of your comfort zone is something that gets easier with time, so consider it a great experience for growth. Also, I didn’t realize it was so cheap! I’m sure it will be an awesome time that you won’t regret. Cheers!

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