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Hi, this is a repost of my report of going to Yalta Ukraine. Its brutally honest in my opinion.
Its in response to this post, and a few details about this post are the last (at the time of this writing) comments on this forum link: http://www.happierabroad.com/phpBB2/vie ... php?t=4661
My Trip to Yalta (probably long, or broken into many pieces)
PART A - GETTING THERE
I just got back from Yalta. Was there 21th August to 30th August.
I got quite a bit I want to say, so chances are this will be a haphazard post.
Got to Toronto Airport on time (Aug 20). Cant take any liquids anymore it seems. Some bureaucrats decided we could blow up planes with it.
Electronic ticket (booked through Orbitz). Hmmmm, so I have to use this weird machine thingy - they really should post that somewhere in big letters instead of having a poor rep explain it to about a third of the passengers one at a time.
Got the ticket/boarding pass - got through customs and on the plane.
Disembarked in Schipol, Amsterdam. Hmmm, no one seems to want or need to check my Passport/papers. After being a little lost - I get to the Ukraine International Waiting area.
First Sign of incompetence - no one is there.
I see some people lounging inside - after standing at the desk for 5 minutes - I go through the disconnected Scanner and join them. Some English speakers, and some seem to be exclusively Ukranian (Russian?) speakers.
Get on the plane - get to Kiev. Say, they use a Bus to get to the terminal. I havent seen that for a decade or so.
OMFG! Look at the line at Passport Control! The whole room - probably 2-3 times the size of an average McDonalds Restaurant - is full!
4 or 5 passport control people are working. A painfully small number. I prefill the Immigration form. A little confused about the departure side. I put down the same tour company that I bought the hotel booking from. Even though I only booked with them for 2 days of my intended 9 day stay.
Now in addition to being slow - someone might cut in line. And after he does so, will call his whole extended family over. And there isnt much recourse to a protest. Kiev Airport is still in the days of the Soviet Union - nothing works right. Nothing.
I get through in about 2 and a half hours. It took the agent about 30 seconds to actually do his job. If they want to encourage tourism, this is not the way to do it. There was also a Military guy - who seemed overproud to be in the military, once in a while telling the crowd to get back behind the yellow line in a pompous authoritative way. The agent, when I got to him, says in a condescending way that my Passport is Bangladesh ( Im a Canadian Permanent Resident, kinda like the US Green Card). Screw him. Over-important official from a third world country himself.
Of course I missed my connecting flight which was set at 2:50PM. IF YOU ARE GOING TO UKRAINE. ALWAYS. LISTEN, ALWAYS (!!!) have at least 3 and a half hours between flights. It isnt pleasant being lost when you dont speak the language, in a semi-hostile/indifferent third world type environment.
In the end I had to pay a USD45 fine to catch the next flight to Simferopol. The flight boarding time was set for 4:55 PM or something. I called Ihor (travel2crimea.com), the guy setting up the taxi in Simferopol to let him know of the later time. This was an adventure in itself.
It seems the Ukrainians are using some outdated technology or something for their public phones. Maybe x86 chips or smthing. Even after you go through the painful hassle and get a phone card (available at the post office, in a corner of Terminal B in Kiev Borispol Airport) it doesnt work properly. Fortuitously I found an American couple who were coming back from a Crimean cruise where the wife spoke Ukrainian - she tried. It STILL didnt work. She got a shopkeeper to help and he tried thrice before it worked. The thing is you have to press the buttons slowly and firmly. VERY SLOWLY. Like 2-3 seconds betweem numbers. But not TOO SLOWLY, or it will reset. Even then sometimes it doesnt work and you have to start all over. Hit and miss random shit. I kid you not! Does anything work in this country?
When I tried so many times, it was just resetting, and I assumed the number I was calling didnt work, or the phone card didnt work. Neither was the case. IT WAS THE PHONE ITSELF.
Now after all this, Im hot (Kiev is rather hot) and adrenalized. A mistake waiting to happen. And sure enough, it did.
To be Continued....
Heres the kicker. I forgot to set my clock to Kiev time. It was still stuck at Amsterdam Time an hour early.
So there I am. Its 4:00 on my watch and I think theres plenty of time. BUT ITS ACTUALLY 5:00PM in reality. As I figure this out, my heart-rate just about doubles. Im sitting in a seat in a room full of foreign language speakers ready to wet myself.
And then, as a sign from God himself - the Intercom buzzes on. First in Russian/Ukranian then in broken english: " The Aerosvit Flight 027 from Kiev to Simferopol is delayed due to technical problems. New boarding time is 19:15. We thank you for your patience"
Incompetence never sounded so good!
So I get to spend 2 hours 15 minutes in a hot terminal waiting for the plane. Then at about 6:45PM Intercom again : "The Aerosvit Flight 027 from Kiev to Simferopol is delayed because it has not arrived yet. New Boarding time is 20:30" (I am not making that up).
So I wait longer, alternating between carefully and nervously eyeing my luggage and dozing off. Then we board.
Bus again. Bumpy plane again. A few humurous things on the plane - but this post is already too long, so ill skip.
Got to Simferopol at about 10:00 PM or so. Driver was waiting. He called Ihor on his mobile who told me that I should give the Driver an extra 150 Grivnas for his wait, and he would give me a receipt for that so I can get reimbursed from the airline. Fat chance of me attempting that - so thats just more money down the toilet for me.
Tried calling my girl Nastya (Anastasia) on the Drivers mobile - but the signal was too weak.
The drive was nice. The Road to Yalta is bumpy and in a state of decay by Western Standards - but this is the Ukraine.
As its a mountainous area, the road goes up and down and snakes around in curves everywhere. Its rare to be able to see more than 100 meters ahead on 80% of the road.
Got to the Hotel Krimskiy (http://krimsky-otel.crimea.ua) around Midnight. As I was supposed to be there 6 hours earlier - thats wasted time and money for me. Decided not to call Nastya tonight again. Just call her tomorrow.
Will follow with another topic, or post.
Why did you go to Yalta? Crimea is overrated and overhyped, in my opinion. The girls are reserved there and not that open. If you spend a lot of time there, you can do better, but it's not the best place. It's just a place where many Russians go to on Holiday.
Did you try Kiev or Odessa? Those are considered the hot spots.
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Hey, I actually was in Yalta at ther same time - from August second till August 20th of 2008. Your description of the passport control room is very accurate. When I go there I try not to get stressed over these things, just expect them. Off course the fact that I speak Russian helps a lot.
Winston, I wouldn't advise any one who wants to find a woman for a serious relationship to go to Kiev or especially Odessa. These places have been over run with foreign sex tourists which created a whole industry serving them, but made it very difficult to find an untainted woman who is not a part of that industry. Because of no visa requirement most WESTERN men choose Ukraine rather than Russia, which is a huge misstake IMO if you are looking for a life partner. It will cost you a couple of hundred more to go to Russia, but the choice of women is 90% better.
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