SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- Back in the mid-1990s, I didn’t have a TV or internet access, and newspapers were largely preoccupied with the political and economic chaos in Ukraine. Therefore, I grew up oblivious of the war in the Balkans.
Sri Lanka, known as Ceylon during British imperial rule from 1815 to 1948, is an evergreen island in the Indian Ocean. Famed for tea and elephants, some people go there to relax on its paradise beaches, but for others it is a perfect destination for adventures.
Most people I know do not believe that the Black Sea shore can be crystal clear. And they have reasons. Popular sea resorts are overcrowded and, therefore, quite dirty. But there are still some perfectly clean secluded places. And Katranka is one of them.
With Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the Kremlin-backed war in
Ukraine’s southeast, many of Ukraine’s prized Black and Azov sea resorts
are now in enemy hands or have closed indefinitely.
But a team of travelers from Kyiv is challenging the notion that all is lost. To prove their point, they trekked around Ukraine to find lesser-known resorts and attractions not under Russian control or in war zones.
Our trip to Vyzhniy Bereziv, a small western Ukrainian village in the Carpathians, started in a shuttle bus full of locals and their newly purchased piglets and chickens. It was Saturday, a market day in the nearest town Kolomyia.
CHISINAU, Moldova – In Chisinau, it must be impossible to keep a secret.
Everybody seem to know everyone in this small city of some 720,000 people - although the population numbers are never right in Moldova, where up to 25 percent of people permanently work and live abroad.
Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the Kremlin-backed war in eastern Ukraine are changing travel plans.
The EuroMaidan Revolution left Ukraine with one new and extremely popular tourist attraction. Thousands of Ukrainians and foreigners come every week to the unremarkable village of Novi Petrivtsi north of Kyiv. Here stands Mezhyhirya, a hilariously luxurious mansion and 140-hectare estate that belonged to former President Viktor Yanukovych.
In response to a number of myths about western Ukrainians, shared by Russian-backed separatists in the east and fueled by Kremlin propaganda, the Lviv-based Ukrainian Catholic University has started an exchange program.
Clear skies and sandy beaches will not be enough to draw Ukrainians to the Crimean coast during the May holidays. After Russia’s annexation of the peninsula on March 18, Crimea is scratched off the travel list of many Ukrainians. Some say they won’t go until Russia returns the territory to Ukraine.
The May holidays usually kick off Crimea's tourist season, but the web cameras on the Russian-seized peninsula show empty beaches and streets. None of the expected millions of tourists are in sight yet as Ukraine and Russia both take holidays on May 1-2 for Labor Day and on May 9 for Victory Day.
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- We all know Rio’s best known for its colorful, world-famous carnival, but the city has plenty of other exciting events to offer, such as New Year’s celebration in the middle of Brazilian summer. Some tourist guides advise you to plan New Year's in Rio up to one year in advance. So, it's right about time to start planning the most exotic and unforgettable New Year celebration in your life.
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – Ukraine’s neighboring countries offer tourists great travel opportunities at modest prices on short notice, thanks to plenty of cheap economy airlines. The capital of Slovakia, Bratislava, is one destination option. The city is bright, cozy and friendly, living up to this traveler’s expectations.
KHERSON – The sweltering late-summer heat, the lights of approaching ships and the smell of fresh fish welcomes visitors to this southern port city of nearly 300,000 residents.
Built upon the remnants of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires at the junction between East and West, the Balkans are made up of a distinctive patchwork of states that one could spend years enthusiastically exploring. These countries have high mountains, a warm sea, Mediterranean wine and Turkish coffee, Austrian architecture and Slavic hospitality.
The Curonian Spit is a nearly 100-kilometer stretch of white sand, dunes and pine tree forests on the Baltic Sea coast on one side and the Curonian Lagoon on the other. Though this area is shared almost equally between Russia and Lithuania, there is a striking difference between the two parts.
NOVHOROD-SIVERSKY, Chernihiv Oblast — After passing through the deep woods, our shabby bus reached the peaceful town of Novhorod-Siversky in Ukraine’s far north. Here, the very concept of time seemed to fade away along with the trees outside the windows. There, a walk that seemed to last half an hour, turned out to have taken just a few minutes, and a day felt like a week.
ARTEMIVSK, Donetsk Oblast – Hit hard by the collapse of the Soviet Union, signs of the once flourishing region dot its highways: some columned factory buildings still have pro-communist slogans adorned on their walls that read, “Our goal – Communism!” and “Lenin’s ideas are immortal!”
Visiting new cities is like meeting new people. You can fall in love, make friends or even enemies. Some people become a natural part of your life; the others never manage to fit in. The eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk is definitely not my type, but it is also unlikely to ever be forgotten.