Western Black Sea - Travel Experiences
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Sep 30, 2012 6:15 AM Last Post By: ericspanner
Aug 15, 2012 12:11 PM
Western Black Sea - Travel Experienceshi,
this summer i've made a trip around the western part of the black sea, and i would like to tell you some of my experiences as this forum was very helpful while planning this trip.
i was travelling alone and this was my first real "trip". the route was cologne - kiew - yalta - odessa - constanta - istanbul - cologne
i won't tell you all my experiences on this trip, mostly because it's too much to write down. but i can honestly say that this was the best travelling i ever did and ukraine is of stunning beauty!
i am german, capable of speaking rather good english, but i don't speak one word of russian. i learned the cyrillic alphabet on the plane, though, and that turned out to be one of the best ideas.
i bought both fitting lonely planet phrase books, ukrainian and russian, but only took the ukrainian with me - i just wanted to save some weight. well, that wasn't a good idea, as it turned out.
anyway, here are my ways of getting around:
cologne - kiew // plane
you all know planes, not much to write about. wizz air.
cost: around 100 €.
kiew - yalta // train & taxi
nighttrain from kiew to simferopol, dep. 20:16, arr. 10:15.
booked my ticket online (you should really book beforehand - the trains were all full!) via this website: http://www.e-kvytok.com.ua/wps/portal
it's all in cyrillic, so you might need this guide for getting along with it: http://blog.activeukraine.com/the-how-to-train-series-buying-your-ticket-online/
payment is with credit card and you'll get an pdf with the confirmation sent to you. you need to print that out and collect your ticket at an ukrainian ticket booth yourself - worked perfectly.
cost: 280 hrn.
taxi from simferopol to yalta, about 2 h
in simferopol there are several busses to yalta, you just have to go to the big parking lot for busses. i, myself, got tricked into taking a taxi. negotiated fee was 100 hrn, but the driver took me directly to the hostel, which was very hard to find and wanted additional 50 hrn for it. well...clearly i was sort of ripped off. but i would have got to take a taxi in yalta to get to the hostel anyway.
cost: 150 hrn.
yalta - odessa // trolley bus, marschrutka, train
trolley bus from city center to bus station, about 20 minutes
cost: 1,50 hrn.
marschrutka from yalta to simferopol, about 2,5 h
got a ticket at the ticket booth, it's a confusing station, but somehow you'll be able to find the right bus (in my case an old spanish one;)
cost: 28 hrn.
nighttrain from simferopol to odessa, dep. 17:05, arr. 4:46
the above website didn't provide this route so i found this other reservation site: http://booking.uz.gov.ua/en/ - it's english and very easy to understand. got my ticket handed with no problem at all, too.
cost: 142 hrn.
odessa - (braila) - constanta // marschrutka, taxi, walk, hitchhike, train
marschrutka from odessa to reni, about 6 h
the bus station in odessa is a bit outside of the town, got my ticket easily for the next bus - but i went there 1,5 h before departure! make sure to be early, and to be early on the right bus. there was one woman with a ticket that had to stand for 3 h. well, you'll get the idea.
cost: 78 hrn.
taxi from reni to boarder, about 20 minutes
there was only one taxi and the reni "bus station" (you can't really call it that way) isn't a place you want to get stuck. first rate offer was 640 hrn to romania (don't do that!), second was 150 hrn to the boarder to moldova, we agreed at 120 hrn. still, hell of a price. but there was no real choice.
cost: 120 hrn.
walking through moldova, about 20 minutes
do it, it's only 1,5 km :)
cost: 0 €
hitchhike from romanian border to galati bus station, about 2 h
you're not allowed to enter romania by foot, so i had to stop a car and went through customs with that guy. worked pretty good, but controls at customs took ages! be aware of that!
cost: 10 € (didn't have to, but he was really nice driving me all the way to the bus station)
i arrived at the station at about 18:15 and there was no bus or train left to constanta, so i searched for a place to sleep on the road between these cities and went to braila istead (and i just wanted to end this this day's journey...) fortunatelly the distance between bus and train station is only 400 m.
train from galati to braila, 1 h
very shaky local train
cost: 5,20 ron
train from braila to constanta, 3,5 h
booked my ticket in galati already and went on to constanta with the first train. nothing special to say about that.
cost: 58,20 ron
constanta - istanbul // bus, 12 h
the bus station in constanta is right next to the train station as well, in the morning i went there to get my name on the list for the daily drive at 15:00 (actually i could have just gone to the ticket booth 10 minutes before departure - there were only 6 people on this trip. but, you never know). nice modern mercedes bus, awesome view as most part of the street is right next to the coast. worst part of this way is that you arrive at 3 in the morning is some strange neighbourhood.
cost: 128 ron.
istanbul - cologne // ferry, bus & plane
ferry and bus from istanbul center to airport, about 1 h
best way to get to the airport (sabiha) is taking a ferry to the eastern side, which is a beautiful view, too and then take a bus. took me some time to figure out which one to take, but it worked out in the end.
cost: 2 tl (ferry), 8 tl (bus)
plane from istanbul to cologne
nothing to say. pegusus airline.
cost: about 200 €
well, that's it. i hoped i can help some people planning a similiar trip.
if you have any further questions, please ask.
Aug 15, 2012 2:23 PM
Many thanks for your posting. We are from NZ and leave for the Ukraine in 2 weeks travelling much the same route there as you did, but including Sevastopol.
Never having travelled by overnight train before we're not sure what to expect. I presume there is a dining/food car of some description. Any hints/advice?
One book I read said there was only 20 minutes between announcing the departure platform and time of actual departure. Did you have enough time to find the platform given the language difference?
Thanks for your comment on the language. I've been learning Russian (essential phrases) with their equivalent in Ukrainian but am not sure which one to use, although I have read that Russian is mainly spoken in the Crimea. What did you find in Kiev and Odessa?
Aug 16, 2012 2:22 AM
well, i experienced the trains in ukraine as very well organised. i never had a problem to find the right train. and even if not: just ask :)
by the way, you have to enter the train at the correct wagon and show your ticket when entering.
i guess there are some sort of dining cars, but i never searched for it. i buyed myself some supplys at the supermarket, so i was fine. the wagon conductors sells cold and hot beverages, too.
if you're not sure which language to use: use russian. i was travelling with an ukrainian phrase book only and i had a hard time getting myself understood at some occasions.
general advice: don't expect anyone to speak english - because nearly nobody does :)
Aug 16, 2012 1:46 PM
3Hi i just travelled to Ukraine i bought a book on web for 3 $ or something like that written by one of Ukraine locals guy called Igor i must admit he had really accurate info in there and really helped me saving money on my trip he had in this book a local web site of schedules i used to lookup train and bus routes and schedules i must admit it helped i cannot remeber the exact web address. His book was not many pages so i printed it out and basically used the info as i traveled my first visit was a disaster but second i had some time i must admit i managed to save money on taxi's accomodation even on food and all sorts of stuff taking advice i quite managed to find my way around this place very well even had barbaque with some of the locals. I basically just have a printed version left but will see if i can find the url where i bought this book. Ps my first visit cost me lots of money but this time i find Ukraine as the cheapest country i visited.
Aug 30, 2012 12:28 AM
Sep 30, 2012 6:15 AM
I took some overnight train in UA last year. I found no catering car along the train. As Tobias mentioned, you may bought your own food and bring to the train. If you ride in kupe (2nd class) or platzkart (3rd class), the passengers near you may share their food with you. Sometimes the stops along the route may have hawkers selling food. For train itself, the staff sells tea and coffee, and sometimes with a cart have more choices, but do not expect booze. Drinking (of alcohol) is banned.
You may read the platform your train leaving on the electronic board. I found Odessa main terminal using a board displaying English information, I don't know if there is more after Euro 2012. Even though it is using Cyrillic, the information is still easy to be follow. The "platform no." (spelt like Koni or something like that) appears at the right hand side of the information.
For Kyiv and Odessa, Russian is supposed commonly used.
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