TRAVEL NEWS: Celebrate The Seven Wonders of Ukraine, Catherine the Great and 22 Years of Independence

Slide Show: The Seven Wonders of Ukraine

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Ukraine Celebrates 22 Years of Independence

Ukraine just celebrated 22 anniversary of its independence. Throughout the period of more than one thousand years, Ukraine has faced the glory and power of the Kyivan Rus Empire (late 9th to mid-13th centuries), was divided by the Austrian – Hungarian and Russian Empires, eventually becoming an occupied by the Bolsheviks state that was forcefully inducted into the Soviet Union. After many years as part of the USSR, Ukraine declared its independence in December of 1991.

Ukraine has gone through numerous reforms and transformations during its 22 years of independence. Despite noticeable political disputes, Ukraine has remained truthful to its European roots and is currently on its way to signing the long-expected Association Agreement with the European Union.

To read more about Ukraine’s independence, click here.

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Ukraine – Cheapest Tourist Destination Among UNWTO’s Top 20

On average, a tourist visiting Ukraine in 2012 spent little over USD 200. This is the absolute lowest among the 20 most popular tourist destinations, according to the UN World Tourism Organization. Rich historical heritage as well as the UEFA European Football Championship EURO 2012 attracted tourists to the Eastern European country. A total of 23 million tourists visited Ukraine in 2012 and spent USD 4.8 billion.
Cultural wealth, the warmth of the people, and the fact that travelers can live large for under USD 50 a day lure the tourists in, reckons Christine Sarkis of Smarter Travel, popular tourism portal. In the website’s rating Ukraine became number one destination to visit while it’s still cheap.
While the capital city Kyiv remains one of the most expensive places to visit in Ukraine, its other gems, like western cities of Lviv and Kamianets-Podilskyi, offer cheap accommodation and meals. Comparably, a night at Kyiv’s 3* hotel will cost about USD 100, while Lviv offers decent lodging for USD 50. An average lunch in the Ukrainian capital will cost about USD 15, in Lviv – 7.
While Kyiv offers spectacular city tours, during which its guests visit such World Heritage sites as Saint Sophia Cathedral and Kyiv Pechersk Lavra – including the tour around the ancient monastery’s caves, – Lviv has its own amazing attractions. Lviv’s historic center is one of Ukraine’s World Heritage sites, protected by UNESCO. Just in June 2013, the western Ukrainian city became the number 1 destination in the Top 10 European Cities to See Now list by the VirtualTourist.
In 2012, EURO 2012 attracted hundreds of thousands of football fans to Ukraine and the competition co-host Poland. Moreover, the international sports event prompted numerous infrastructure improvements in Ukraine – complete with four new airports in major cities and hundreds of new hotels, – making the country even more attractive for tourists. Following the championship, the country was listed among the top 10 destinations for 2013 by six international tourism ratings, including Globe Spots, National Geographic, Trip Advisor, and Lonely Planet.
Notably, in 2012, Ukraine demonstrated one of the highest receipts growth by an emerging economy – 13 percent.

To read more from the news wire, click here.

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Ukraine — in the wake of Catherine the Great

As a docent at Washington, D.C.’s, Hillwood Museum, featuring fabulous Russian treasures, I have been fascinated with a trip Catherine the Great made down the Dnieper River in 1787. Accompanied by the Austrian emperor and other diplomatic guests, she led a tour of her expanding empire from Kiev to the Crimea, sailing in a fleet of 80 red-and-gold Roman-style galleys, each with its own orchestra.
So when I learned of a tour in Catherine’s wake, together with visits to the homeland of the dashing Cossacks, historic cities closed to visitors during Stalin’s repressive regime and such military landmarks as the site of the Charge of the Light Brigade, I persuaded my husband to accompany me to Ukraine.

To read full article by travel writer Gloria Grant, click here.

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Ukraine signs landmark trade deal with European Union

Ukraine formally gave the go-ahead on Wednesday for landmark trade deals to be signed with the European Union.

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said the agreements, that should be signed at a November summit in Lithuania, raised the prospect of “a European quality of life” for the ex-Soviet republic. But he kept silent over the imprisonment of his predecessor, Yulia Tymoshenko, whose release European envoys have been trying to secure in the run-up to the Vilnius meeting.
The 28-member EU, while pursuing the agreements with Ukraine including participation in a free trade zone, has condemned her trial for abuse-of-office and seven-year jail sentence as politically motivated, and her continued confinement still threatens prospects of a signing in Vilnius.
“We believe we must make every effort for Tymoshenko to be freed before the Vilnius summit,” Iryna Gerashchenko, a deputy for the opposition party UDAR, told Interfax-Ukraine.
“Even though the signing is important to the EU and Ukraine, the EU will never be able to close its eyes to the violation of fundamental values such as human rights, including the right of defense in a court and the right to justice,” she said.

Read the full Reuters report here.

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Oscar Nod for three Films from Ukraine

Ukrainian Academy Award Committee confirmed the selection of three Ukrainian motion pictures for the nomination for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, awarded by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, USA. The films include dramas Vichne Povernennia (2012) by Kira Muratova and Paradjanov (2013) by Serge Avedikian and Olena Fetisova, as well as war drama Haytarma (2013) by Akhtem Seitablayev. Ukraine’s final Oscar pick will be announced on September 12.

For more about the award nominated Ukranian films, click here.

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Editor’s Note: Original World Travel offers cultural immersion tours, private custom tours and small group tours to Ukraine through the year, including The New Europe: Belarus-Ukraine-Moldova, 21 days journeys May-June & September.

 

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