Train leavung Station








                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   



My first experience travelling, long before I ever dreamed of getting on an airplane, was riding the overland trains in the country that was then the Soviet Union.

From Siberia, where we lived and where I went to college to train as a nurse, the train took us through the vastness of Northern Russia to Moscow which is the hub of the railway lines. From here we would connect to Tambov where my grandparents lived and also to Ukraine.

Russian Train in Winter

I loved these long journeys; I could look out the window at the countryside for hours or read. We enjoyed the food that we had brought, and on the trains were woodburning Samovars to provide us with tea.
In later years, after immigrating to Canada, I still loved to travel back to the old country every year, and have been fortunate enough to visit other European Countries. On this page I will share some of my travel experiences(and hopefully yours!), and we will look at interesting places and travel opportunities!Trans Siberian Express








An old Poster advertising the famous Trans Siberian Express





One of my favourite cities to visit in Ukraine is Odessa on the Black Sea.It is such a diverse place with beautiful architecture and an almost mediterranean feel about it. Privos is a great  roofed outdoor market in the center of town where you can find any kind of regional food you can imagine; vegetables, herbs, meats, seafood and fresh, salted, and smoked fish. It is full of life and amazing sights and smells

                    
Black Sea
                                           

In Old OdessaLighthouse at the Seaport


                    Houses in old Odessa                                                   Odessa Lighthouse being dwarfed by a container ship                         


                                                                                                                                              Whaling Harpoon     

        Old Whaling Harpoon by a museum downtown

Fish Vendors at Privos Market




Fish Vendors at Privos Market Halls




Monastery Church Tower



    The golden tower of a Monastary Church






Aeroflot Logo


        Old Logo of Russian Airline Aeroflot





I have relatives in Kiev, the Capital of Ukraine, which is a city I love to visit. One of its best known landmarks is the monumental statue of Rodina Mat.




Rodina Mat





Symbolizing the Motherland, it is part of the vast World War II Museum. Inside the statue, you can take an elevator up to a viewing platform. I took this picture from a ship while taking a tour on the Dnieper river.








Perchersk Lavra






Not far from Rodina Mat, as it is situated on the same range of hills just downriver,lies Perchersk Lavra or the Monastery of the Caves. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can see the sun reflecting off the golden towers for miles. I took the picture from the same ship on the river.



Andreyevski Uzvez




                                Andriyivskyy Descent, which has been described as the "Montmartre of Kiev", leads up to St.Andrews  Cathedral from the commercial district by the river.
                                    Apart from great old architecture, here you will find some of the best stores and street vendors selling  traditional folk art as well as antiques and Soviet memorabilia





I am fortunate to have a network of relatives and friends over there when I travel. If you don’t know anyone, maybe don’t  speak the language but still would like to experience all that Ukraine has to offer, we have found a tour operator which might be helpful to you:  Green Ukraine  offers city tours as well as excursions in the Carpathian mountains where they offer hiking, fishing, rafting and mushroom picking trips and a variety of other interesting activities. They will help with travel and accommodation arrangements and their guides are multilingual.







It is also possible to travel Russia and Uraine by taking a cruise on the vast rivers and waterways. Check out this link for cruises from Moscow to St.Petersburg and others:

Russian Cruises




Lviv, Lvov in Russian, or Lemberg as it was called in the days of the Austro - Hungarian Empire, is a beautiful city in the very west of Ukraine. On a recent trip there I discovered a very unique dining place - Kryivka. The word means hideaway, and refers to the secret underground bases of the Ukrainian National Liberation Army, which after WW I fought first against the Polish occupation, in WW II against the Nazi invaders, and later Soviet Russia. In true style, they do not advertise(I had heard about it from friends as have most first time patrons), and there is no sign. It is known that it is somewhere by the central market square, so you have to find it, which is part of the fun.



Lviv, the old Market Square
Kryivka Door



Once you arrive at the door, you knock and will be asked for the password which I disclose here: it is “Slava Ukraine”, which means Glory to Ukraine. Upon entering, you find yourself in a tiny room decorated 1930’s style where a uniformed guard complete with submachine gun pours you a shot from a canteen. After downing the shot, and no sooner, the left wall slides back and you follow a flight of stairs down into the bunker, which is decorated with memorabilia, old weapons and equipment and just oozes authentic atmosphere.



Kryivka Restaurant Food on the Table



The food is traditional Ukrainian, of the first quality, the portions are huge and best accompanied by their excellent cellar beer and the house vodka flavoured with honey and pepper. And yes - you will be eating from army tin plates. There is live traditional folk music, and after the meal you may want to handle the weapons on display, wander a cave system filled with interesting exhibits, buy souvenirs at a small store( I did); and finally follow a flight of stairs up to the roof of the building where you can enjoy the view over Lviv from the seat of an honest to God 20 millimetre gun.






Cannon on the roof of Kryivka Restaurant




http://www.fest.lviv.ua/en/restaurants/kryjivka/





Maybe the most pleasant and exiting way to travel in the east is by train. Check out this video about the Trans Siberian train:














Village Silhouette