10 questions to American who’s visited Ukraine 6 times!
Keenan Neighbors, fantastic person from the US and regular visitor to Ukraine who has been here 6 times kindly agreed to answer few question about his Ukrainian trips. Except Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, Keenan also visited Kryvyi Rih, Yevpatoria, Ternopil, Vinnytsia, Simferopol, Sevastopol and Yalta. So he has a lot of experiences to share with people who are just going to visit Ukrainian cities.
1. Tell us about your first visit to Kiev, what was your first impression?
My first visit to Kiev was surreal because I grew up during the Cold War.
I remember all about the Iron Curtain, the Soviet Union being our enemy and all the mass hysteria going on; however, I was always curious about what was actually going on behind the Iron Curtain.
Now, after my 6th trip there, Kiev is always the first stopping point for me I never get tired of going. I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface of things to see. In each time I go I do manage to see something new. And Ukraine impressed me so much! When I get home that’s all I talk about.
2. What was the purpose of your visit to Ukraine?
I always recommend Ukrainian trips to my friends; I tell them it’s an experience of a lifetime and everybody should go there at least once. I started coming to Ukraine looking for a wife; however, it was not every time that it worked out so I always managed to turn that into just a vacation and I enjoy myself.
3. How many times have you been to Ukraine? Is it safe in Kiev?
I’ve visited Ukraine 6 times. I’ve been all over the country: Kyiv, Kryvyi Rih, Yevpatoria, Ternopil, Vinnytsia, Simferopol, Sevastopol and Yalta, some places three and four times. I’ve never had a problem anywhere; I’ve always felt safe in the country. As long as you pay attention and know what you’re doing you should never have a problem.
4. What is the most interesting for you in our history?
I am very interested in World War II and the events that happened in Ukraine. As horrible as it was, it should never be forgotten. I always try to plan my trip around seeing something military wise. Wherever you go in Ukraine, you will learn something about the history of the country; this is how I started researching and studying history of Ukraine. This is truly is mind-boggling how all those events occurred to one country.
5. What restaurants, bars, night clubs do you like in the capital of Ukraine? Perhaps the places you regularly visited.
When it comes to restaurants and eating in Ukraine, I’m a very easy going person and I can eat just anywhere. The names of the restaurants – well, I don’t remember any just right now. And about bars and nightclubs – honestly, I’ve never been to one in Kiev.
6. How do you like Ukrainian prices? Can you share approximately how much you spent per day/week/month?
The prices in Ukraine are among the major attractions for me because when I come from America my money is 27 times more valuable than it is here; I can do a lot on little money. Besides, the prices in Ukraine are extremely fair and in Ukraine I always spend without any worries about money. In most cases, I actually bring back some money home after trying to spend it all in Ukraine.
One coffee cup to go for example is less than 1 dollar US, public transport now, in 2017, is about 5-7 hryvnas, which is 30 cents.
You may also take a lunch for 5 dollars per person or even less.
Ordinary Ukrainians live on 5000 UAH (185 dollars) per month, and pensioners on 1500 UAH (56 dollars) per month.
As for a daily sum of money, I would say with everything I do personally, places I go and see it is $50 a day at the very most, maybe even less. In 2012, I was there for 2 months and I don’t think I even spent over $2,000. I have spent so much time there and I did everything, so you can imagine the prices.
7. Have you found friends and acquaintances in Kiev, with who you are in contact? How would you describe the nature of these people and Ukrainians in general?
When I come to Kiev, I always have some friends I have to go see, people that I keep up with and I also meet new friends while I’m there. I love the people of Ukraine; they’re very helpful, friendly, polite and generous and I do enjoy talking to them. The only problem I have is the language barrier but I managed to cope with it. Normally I am with someone who can translate for me, so I’m never really alone, I’m always with somebody.
8. The most memorable (funny case) in Kiev?
I think for me the funniest thing in Kiev happen is in 2016; I was there in February and March. Taking into account from where I come, the weather was quite good for me; so normally I wear just a T-shirt and jeans in such weather, unless it’s just super cold. But at that time Ukrainian people were still dressed up like it’s winter time, so they were looking at me like I was crazy. Some were even following me around and taking my photo – crazy American wearing a t-shirt in what they still consider winter weather.
9. What do you expect from Ukrainians in the future? (How do you see our future?)
This question is kind of hard for me to answer because I don’t expect anything from anyone and I really don’t know enough about the political system in Ukraine to know what stands in your future. I do hope that you get everything straightened out and the country sees peace once again.
10. Do you plan to come to Ukraine again?
Yes, I do plan to visit Ukraine again, hopefully the spring of 2018.
We swear that we didn’t hold the gun over Keenan’s head when he answered the questions. So, dear people, if you are planning to travel to Eastern Europe, do not forget to add Ukraine and Kiev in particular to your list of places to visit. We are waiting for you with impatience!
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