The Ukrainian yalynka (Christmas tree) is of particular interest for Westerners, for its odd decorations often referred to as “creepy.” But the story behind the traditional spiders and spider webs that adorn the Ukrainian Christmas tree is one of hope and joy. [Read more…]
More than 100 participants are expected at Odessa during the 48th MedCruise General Assembly at Hotel Bristol, a round table meeting dedicated to cruise and yacht tourism.
According Elvira Leschynskaya, Head of Tourism and Eurointegartion Department of Odessa Sea Port Authority, some 100 or more representatives of world cruise ports are expected to be present at MedCruise General Assembly, which will take place at Odessa, from 22-25 of June, 2016. The executive went on to add:
“We, as members of Board of Directors of the Association of Mediterranean Cruise Ports “MedCruise” for the first time ever succeeded in attracting the event of such a scale in our country. This year the Association celebrates its 20th anniversary since the day of the foundation.”
According to the news, the format for the event will be a unique blend of marketing opportunities, along with exclusive privileges etc., but clearly the event is timed to attract cruisers to Ukraine, which lost a lot of business since the Euromaidan events. Cruise line delegates from companies who once cancelled cruises to Ukrainian ports, will now attend this June event. Among those listed are; SilverSea, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Holland America Group, MSC Crociere, Azamara Cruises, Costa Crociere, and Pullmantur Cruises.
Ms. Leschynskaya added, that mass advertising and other initiatives will accentuate the MedCruise General Assembly events too. Set up in Rome on the 11th of June 1996, MedCruise is the Association of Mediterranean Cruise Ports. MedCruise’s mission is to promote the cruise industry in the Mediterranean and its adjoining seas. Today, the association has grown to 72 members representing more than 100 ports around the Mediterranean region, including the Black Sea, the Red Sea and the Near Atlantic, plus 35 internatinal companies – on the whole 104 subjects.. Odesa Sea Port became a member in 2008 and since 2011 has its representative in the Board of Directors.
With the summer season in full swing now news from Bulgaria’s tourism industry tells of Black Sea resorts there in dire need of skilled workers to meet demand. According to the director of labor there, Dobrich Vasil Sivkov, there’s hundreds of vacancies in the industry.
Black sea resort Albena is but one where hotels, restaurants, and other hospitality businesses list some 350 plus vacancies not filled. In Balchik (botanical gardens above) this novinite.com report reports 10o or more vacancies. Waiters, cooks, maids, bartenders, kitchen workers, and other industry regimes are listed as critically needed.
With other Black Sea resorts to the North in Ukraine a bit uncertain after violence between pro-Kyiv and pro-Russian groups in Odessa, travelers in the region have probably shifted south to Constanta and the beaches of Bulgaria. Odessa, one of Ukraine’s biggest touristic destinations, saw huge visitors numbers from Russia before the unrest in Ukraine. It seems certain this Summer will see those numbers fall.
The situation in Ukraine has the world on pins and needles as chaos prevails almost nationwide there. Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (below) has gone so far as to warn that the crisis may turn into war in eastern Europe.
This news report from The Local puts forward the German Minister’s frustration, and hope at some sort of resolution in between Moscow and Kiev. In a letter published by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Steinmeier said; ” There is a threat of a point of no return, a moment when the escalation can no longer be stopped and we will literally stand on the threshold of war in Eastern Europe.”
He also reportedly put forward his plan for deescalating the crisis, one to replace the already failed Geneva agreement both all concerned seem to have broken. With the same focus as US President Obama, on the upcoming presidential elections in Ukraine, some experts would say Steinmeier’s plan is doomed to fail too. Moscow, justifiably, argues no fair election could ever be possible now that Odessa and other cities are so embroiled in conflict and chaos.
Steinmeier also ruled out any military solution, instead refocusing on the “most important parties”, Moscow and Kiev. Germany is not alone in issuing travel warnings. The Unites States State Department has also issued several warnings, as have other countries. As the death toll in Ukraine cities rise, European foreign ministers are meeting in Vienna to discuss the ongoing Ukraine crisis. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had this to say via Deutsche Welle:
“To convene in this format again, when the opposition to Kiev regime is absent from the negotiating table, that would hardly add anything.”
Steinmeier was further quoted as saying:”The bloody pictures from Odessa have shown us that we are just a few steps away from a military confrontation.” As both sides of the conflict bury their dead today, and with Kiev sending special forces to Odessa to hold the lid on there, there’s more fear than hope for Ukraine stability in the coming days. Travelers are well advised to revisit their plans unless absolutely necessary.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE:HOT) plans to open a hotel in Kiev by 2015: Aloft. This marks the chain’s expansion into Ukraine, as it plans to reshape the mid-market hotel sector here, through a different design approach to style and a vibrant, affordable social guest experience.
“Aloft is the perfect match for a vibrant city like Kiev as it provides an entirely new, stylish and affordable approach to hospitality within the mid-market segment,” said Michael Wale, President, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa and Middle East.
Aloft Kiev continues Starwood’s strategic expansion throughout Europe, maintaining the company focus on primary and secondary markets throughout Russia and CIS.
The new hotel will open in the Central Business District (CBD) of Kiev, close to businesses, but also near important local entertainment, shopping and dining venues.
An entirely new construction, Aloft Kiev is planned with 310 guest rooms and 10 executive suites, all featuring the brand’s signature high ceilings, oversized windows, ultra-comfortable platform bed, as well as large walk-in showers with complimentary Bliss Spa® products.
The brand’s signature Re:mixSM lounge and W XYZ SM bar aren’t missing from the plans, and are joined by other facilities, including the Re:chargeSM fitness centre, and Re:fuel by AloftSM, which will introduce a convenient deli option for guests on the go, with an array of sweet, savoury and healthy food, snacks and drinks available 24 hours a day.
The opening of Aloft Kiev will mark Starwood’s third hotel in Ukraine following the opening of a Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Zaporozhye in 2011 and the signings of Hotel Bristol, a Luxury Collection hotel in Odessa, which is due to open in 2014, and a new Sheraton hotel in Kiev, which is scheduled to open in 2016.
This Saturday evening in Koktebel the Museum of Maximilian Voloshin will host an international event, “Night at the Museum”, which will commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the poet’s house. Each year in this part of the Crimea, museums all celebrate International Museum Day, a festive program with readings, exhibits and special programs for visitors.
Since 1977 the 18th of May is a special day for over two thousand museums across more than 42 countries in Europe. For Koktebel citizens and visitors, this night in 2013 will be especially unique as Voloshin’s home is perhaps the only in tact collection and exhibition of the so-called Golden Age of Russian Poetry in the Crimea, perhaps in the world.
The program of events at the museum start at 8 PM with the grand opening of “Night at the Museum” and a brief presentation of all the following events. Admission is free for the readings of poetry and other highlights. Another highlight will include Tatiana Solovyov (Kharkiv House of Scientists) in a musical-poetic composition “Lunaria” – among the many other entertaining presentations.
Opening in Kiev May 16 at the Small Gallery of Art Arsenal, an exhibition of Xenia Gnilitskaya Kolorotest will feature a series of paintings of the artist.
Interactive sculpture is also part of the exhibit destined to reveal the multifaceted depth of these paintings.
Xenia Gnilitskaya Kolorotest’s works are scheduled to be on display from May 17 to June 16, 2013. meanwhile art enthusiasts are encouraged to check out the 55th International Art Exhibition which begins as the main gallery later this month as well.
The venue, Mystetskyi Arsenal (Art Arsenal) (below), is one of Ukraine’s most promising cultural hubs and potentially one of the world’s largest such museums. What once was a fortress is now a cultural gem for the people of Ukraine and Kiev.
For those interested in seeing the new exhibition or in learning about the “small gallery” please contact:
Mala Galereya of Mystetskyi Arsenal:
Lavrska str, 10 (Mazepa str, 28), Kyiv, 01010
tel. +38 (044) 288 51 40
It’s a sure bet if you are from the United States or even the UK, probably anyplace in Western Europe even, the city of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi is as foreign a name and place to you as Mars or Pluto. But if you only knew, the seaside wonder probably would not be for long. An hour and thirty minutes South of Odessa you’ll find a rural country beach getaway and a medieval icon of a fortress waiting.
Situated in the southwestern Ukraine, in the historical region of Bessarabia on the Black Sea, the city founded in the 6th Century BC by Milesian colonists was once known as Tyras. Famous for the Byzantine Asprocastron, or White Castle, the city is imbued with about as much back and forth history as any place in Europe. Controlled by the Romans, Byzantium, Hungary, the Tatars, Phoenicians, Ottomans, and a dozen others, Tyras later became part of Romania.
The oldest town in Ukraine is today a mix of ancient wonders and modern day tranquility and resort fun times visitors will be enamored with. However, you won’t find all the great places to see and do things in this part of Ukraine on TripAdvisor, nor will you get to the beach destinations on Trivago. Fact is, the only attraction you’ll be able to locate online in English will be the fortress, all else is a mystery. But not really.
Just outside of town on the Black Sea, you see the city and the fortress are actually on a protected harbor or the Dniester Estuary – inland from the sea, there’s the beach resort replete with luxury hotels like The Bless Resort (below), Veronika Beach Resort, and the sleepy seaside town of Zatoka (image second from top). Hey, and there’s even an Argo Restaurant in town, if you can imagine that. Focusing on seafood and all the watery wonders one expects from beach holiday spots, looking at Argo’s menu make this travel writer hungry. For breakfast they have scrambled eggs Milanese among other yummy choices. Lunch might consist of friend Walleye with mushrooms (pictured at article end), or any number of fish or meat dishes. These people know how to cook, but I diverge.
Other attractions in town include; the Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi museum of local lore, the Church of St. Nicolas across the bay in Ovidiopol, great local shops and markets, miles and miles of unspoiled uninhabited beaches, Zatoka Central Park. and of course Odessa is just up the coast a few kilometers away. For those of you who remember the family getaway to the quiet beach spots though, and those in range of some fantastic history too, then Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi may put you in mind of Brunswick or Savannah in the US South.
Just throw in a few centuries of culture and Ukraine hospitality.
Special note: Tyras-Belgorod Fortress is one of many historic places listed on the World Monuments Fund website as in need of attention.
Visitors to Kiev will get a treat when they visit the Park of Friendship of Peoples near the Moscow Bridge. May 17th will see a beach cinema that seat 60 people open frmo 10 at night until 6 am in the mornings on weekends.
Organizers say the fees for the laid back beach cinema will be on the order of 30-40 US dollars for the pleasure of kicking back in the back, in a lounge chair or hammock, on the beach, and screening movies all night long. Thematic shows begin with Leonardo DiCaprio first up, but suggestions for other subjects are welcome.
Situated in between the left bank of the Dnieper Troyeshchyna and Obolon, the Park of Friendship of Peoples is part of the larger Dnipro Park in the center of the city not far from the Borisfen Hotel.
In European rail news, Ukrainian Railways will extend their operations of the high speed (160 kmh) long distance services for the Summer. According to the news from the company, starting May 16th the Kiev-Poltava-Kharkov line services are slated to increase to three trains per day.
Also, new daily services in between Dnepropetrovsk and Simferopol will now take under 5 hours for the 480 plus kilometer trip. UZ will introduce their Skoda EJ675 double-deck emus on the Donetsk – Simferopol and Kharkov – Simferopol lines as well, including one return service.
Ukrainian railway connects directly with neighboring country railways in Russia, Byelorussia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Hungary, as well as serving some 18 Ukrainian seaports of the Black Sea and Sea of Azov basin. For more information on schedules, tariffs, and other company information readers should visit the rail company’s website, or call: +38(044)4651465
Tourists to the Crimea will have 15 new tour and travel routes to enjoy this travel season there. According to the AR Crimea Minister of Resorts and Tourism, Alexander Liev, new tour and visitor excursion routes from Theodosia to Yalta will further facilitate fun along the Southern Crimea coast.
According to the news from the ministry, 7 new routes will be opened in Theodosia, 3 – in Alushta, 2 – in Kerch, and one in Bakhchysaray, plus another in Chernomorsky district, will go into use Summer of 2013. Also, Liev stated after visiting Baku in Azerbaijan, that the region intends to start regular flights between Azerbaijan and the Crimea to run year round.
Other initiatives by Liev and his Ministry include; many training events, preparations of beaches like those in Theodosius, medical tourism initiatives, and improvements at resorts such as Koktebel.
In flight news from Kiev and Ukraine, Lufthansa is to resume flights to Odessa as of yesterday. Regular flights from Munich to Odessa will run three times per week according to the airport’s spokesperson, Maria Popovych. Other aviation news bits include; Ukraine collaborations, Wizz Air Ukraine, and AeroSvit.
In other transportation news from Ukraine Donetsk Sergey Prokofiev International Airport was recently appointed Host for the 3rd Routes CIS event, to take place on 21-23 July. Also, last month UTair Ukraine got assignments for the Kyiv-Belgrade, Kyiv-Tallinn, Kyiv-Sofia, Kyiv-Bucharest, Kyiv-Riga, Kyiv-Stockholm, Kyiv-Copenhagen, Donetsk-Barcelona, Kyiv-Barcelona, Odesa-Kaliningrad, Donetsk-St.Petersburg and Kharkiv-St. Petersburg routes. Plus, Wizz Air Ukraine, AeroSvit airline also received new assignments.
Finally, early last month Ukraine’s operating airlines partners met and agreed to work out hurdles and differences to better serve the country in the future. Ukrainian and international airlines, aircraft manufacturers, plus other companies that provide aircraft technical support, participated in a round table discussion late in March, Commercial Aviation: International Experience and Ukrainian Realities, as the Hyatt in Kiev.