Category: travels

UKRAINE (Kyiv, Rivne, Ternopil, Lviv)

Customs and traditions varies across the nation, I recommend spending few days in smaller cities like Rivne, Ternopil and Vinnycja to enjoy a real Ukrainian atmosphere.




– Apart Kyiv and Lviv, life is dirt cheap. Avoiding touristic traps, you can live easy with 30€ / day, private accommodation included. You can find excellent accommodations for less than 20€/day.


– Apart some fancy restaurants, food portions are usually big enough to fill your belly for a small price (around 5-7€). Self service restaurants offer decent quality for a small price (es. Puzata Hata). If there are food leftovers, they bring them at home. Better to avoid sushi, I tried it in several restaurants but its quality was always really poor.


– Rivne and Ternopil look definitely safe at day and night… More attention is needed in Kyiv and Lviv, above all outside the city center, even if I never felt in a real danger.


– Girls are “technically” beautiful, it is an incontrovertible fact. Older “girls” tend to overlook their body, probably there is no need to care anymore after marriage 🙂


– They like to party, clubs and bars are often full of people. Girls dances a lot, and they dance for real, not just swinging on the dance floor. Guys usually just watch around and drink. Never saw someone really wasted. Karaoke is very popular; when they play some popular songs, everybody sings.


– Salsa dancing is getting very popular, there are some clubs that have dedicated salsa parties in specific nights. They usually dance in an uncomplicated way, even if I start to see some “contamination” coming from those wannabe superstar masters (unfortunately).




– Basically there are two type of girls: one type is waiting for a “gentleman”, and at the antipodes, the other type waits for her charming prince… so, keep on waiting! 🙂

Being an occasional tourist doesn’t help in “relations”… their consideration hikes up when you have a job there.


– The typical Ukrainian woman always moves with shopping bags 🙂


– This is the only country where girls can be turned off at the entrance of a club, even if they are pretty and well dressed!!! By the way, in strip clubs girls pay more than men.


– Buses are usually super-crowded. Passengers pass money hand by hand on the bus to pay the ticket.


– Around the streets, there are several old women selling vegetables and flowers.


– In clubs, often old cleaning ladies appears during the party to keep clean the floor.


– Kyiv is full of strip clubs, girls working there are quite uninteresting but there can be some outstanding exceptions. Prices grow up year after year, entrance is around 10-20€, drinks from 5€ to thousands… Somewhat less “action” in Lviv, whilst in Rivne and Ternopil they are almost not existent.


– CouchSurfing somewhat works, but if you are in your 30-40 years, it’s quite hard to manage a meeting. Most of CSurfers are absent-minded, they reply with some excuses (“oh I saw your letter to late”, “I am really sorry for my late reply. Too much work”, “I really would like, but I can’t”, “Sorry, I just saw your request just now”) – don’t you have notifications by email and app like any other user?!

Most of the time they don’t answer… even worse when they change their mind with yes-no-maybe-WTF?! in half an hour… such a waste of time…

Tinder is full of “professionals”, but it’s getting more and more popular among youngsters: again, being a foreigner doesn’t help.


– In Kyiv there are no stray dogs, almost no dogs at all… In Lviv I spotted few “civilized” small dogs with their owners. In Rivne and Ternopil there are groups of free happy dogs well integrated within the city and also well feed-up by people.


– Typical food:
Vareniki (kind of dumplings with different fillings)




– I often had the feeling of being like a cash cow: they expect money in 90% of the situations, from the extreme but straightforward “escorts” to the old men playing chess on the benches of Lviv, passing from taxi drivers, BlaBlaCar drivers, girls looking for drinks and dinners, waiters looking for tips, homeless people, street artists, even opticians that sell not-for-resale contact lenses.


– Apart Kyiv, few people can speak English, even among young people it’s not common. They usually speak Russian as second language, but not in Lviv, where Russian language seems abolished.


– The general attitude at the restaurants, bars, hotels varies a lot according to the gender and the city: in Kyiv, most of male personnel is unpolite and seems annoyed by (foreign male?) customers. I wonder if they think of me like a “competitor”… Ladies are usually smiling and friendlier. In smaller cities like Rivne and Ternopil, everybody is usually happy to deal with a foreigner, even if they struggle with English. Lviv is in the middle way. In Kyiv it happened that a male waiter started to “joke” with my female friend in Ukrainian, leaving me outside of any consideration… I’ve been told that, when it happens, I should ask the manager to replace the waiter for my table.


– The vast majority of people have a lot of good intentions but no practical action, it’s always about the next time or up to someone else… By the way, nobody has ever *spontaneously* proposed to hang out, join their friends or attend some event together.

Besides that, there is total lack of organization and practical sense, zero respect for rules starting from the ones on the road, unreliable agreements: probably they try to be polite, but 50% of the times then they change their mind.

I tried to travel by BlaBlaCar: they were late (like half an hour, with me wondering what to do…), they changed the departure point 15 mins before (there is teleportation in Ukraine?!), they cancel the booking 1h before, they asked more money than agreed…


– They are willing to fix things with minimal effort and poor results (if any): at the hotel I asked to fix the tap, because it was blocked… the factotum came quickly to my room, opened the tap, shook the filter, remounted it, et voila… is it fine now? he asked; well, it was slightly better than before, but why don’t replace the filter with a new one?!

Same behavior at another place: they always say they will consider my advices, but those are just empty words… I come back to the same hostel from time by time, and nothing changes, nothing…

Same behavior at a third place: the room was nice, but there were electrical wires hanging hover the door and from the walls… is it so difficult to fix them on the wall?

Same behavior with wifi: often the signal is barely enough… they don’t have repeaters in Ukraine?!

I reached the conclusion that they just don’t care… If it’s possible to do better, no way, is it fine as it is…


– It’s an underdeveloped country, they lack good infrastructures and their mindset is still backward.


– Blinds at the windows are almost not-existent, blackout curtains are rare: better to apply some aluminum foil or dark waste bags on the windows to avoid sunlight in the morning


– Queueing, as first come first served, is an unknown behavior; they (as well as Russians) also jump in when a customer is dealing with the staff at the hotel desk.


– Roads are in a bad condition, above all outside of the cities the lack of maintenance is evident. Respect for road rules is poor, be careful to cross on the zebra lines. Respect for rules in general it always up to the “personal interpretation”. No use of seat belt in cars.

There are pedestrian crossings and traffic lights even on the highway from Kyiv to Lviv, quite dangerous.

Often there are no bars at level crossings; sometimes there is still an attendant within a little house.

Bicycle lanes are unknown, as well as biking.

The majority of cars are old or cheap, but richer people have usually SUVs, it is the best way to move over their Swiss cheese roads.


– There are several homeless people, usually old. It is sad to see many old “babushka” going around with plastic bags of their stuff, asking for charity and trying to sell withered flowers. All of this even in cold and snowy weather.


– It’s not infrequent to spot drunken people sleeping on the road… nobody cares…


– Unofficial taxi must be avoided; with official ones is better to agree on rate before leaving, otherwise you could end up paying much more than it should be. Maxim and Uber apps are recommended to book a taxi from your smartphone, they are simple and reliable.


– Trains can be reserved online, but be sure to translate carefully the receipt (from Russian / Ukrainian). Maybe you think to have a ticket, but it is not… You must exchange it with a real ticket at the desk. Otherwise an old, big and bold lady will prevent you from getting on the train.




UA – Ukrajina Kyiv

UA – Ukrajina



orange: must-see place

blue: good place

brown: nothing special, but it can be worth a visit

dark gray: better to avoid it

light gray: not visited




406 Lviv
05 Kyiv, Pecherska Lavra
112 Kyiv, Maidan Square view from hotel
01 on the flight
05 Kyiv, Self made man



GEORGIA (Batumi, Kutaisi)


– Food portions at the restaurant are huge, often it was hard to eat up a full meal.

– It seems a safe country, I never felt in danger, even walking alone outside city center in the night.

– Batumi is generally clean, I didn’t spot any “forgotten” waste in the streets and on the seaside. Kutaisi is much worse: there is garbage in the river, in the parks and in many abandoned areas.

– Despite all the mess and issues, they seem quite used to them and they take everything easy!



– If you know where to go, you can find good places (accommodations, restaurants, …) at dirt prices, but as a tourist you will likely end up in the popular ones, with high prices (compared to Georgian standards) and average quality. Decent accommodations in Batumi vary from 40 to 60€, a full meal around 10€. Kutaisi offers excellent rooms at 20€.

– At some supermarkets, there are plenty of assistants that take care of their specific shelf: basically each area has two or more dedicated assistants. They can help the customer, they put products perfectly aligned, and probably they also check that nobody steals items.

– In Batumi most of the tourists are Russians and Turks; I spotted many bold big belly men “escorted” by showy Russian ladies… maybe I still have some chances 🙂

– Batumi beach is made of stones, so a deckchair is recommended (they are rented directly on the beach at 4-5GEL each, as well as umbrellas).

– There are some stray dogs all around the city and on the seaside, they are calm and don’t bother anybody. People are comfortable with them. Same situation in Kutaisi.

– No strip bars or sex clubs, even if in Batumi some bars with dark windows seems to offer more than a drink.

– In Batumi old city, Turkish area, there are plenty of thai massage parlors: in spite of the poor conditions of the house and the lack of cleanliness, the massage itself can be very good. Girls may propose some “sensual” services beyond massage to round up their low salary.

– CouchSurfing and Tinder don’t work at all.



– Batumi is one of the ugliest city I visited, there is jumble of “modern” skyscrapers built randomly and surrounded by old ruined houses. The road infrastructure is inadequate to serve the large number of tourists that come in July and August; in June there were already frequent traffic jams all around the city.

– Very few people can speak English, even among young people it’s not common, only teenagers know some basics. They usually speak Russian as second language, not surprising Batumi is full of Russian people.

– it’s an underdeveloped country, they lack good infrastructures and their mindset is still backward.

– I rarely felt welcomed, I wonder if I was a nuisance of them, or it’s just their own behavior. I didn’t have any chance to get in touch with locals, apart some short talks with the staff at the restaurant or the hotel. I would say that in Kutaisi the normal approach with foreigners was friendlier, whilst in Batumi I was just a customer.

– Finding a comfy accommodation is like winning the lottery, there is always something wrong:

place n. 0: they debited my credit card 1 month before my arrival – got a refund after a written complain through and I canceled the reservation.

1st place: nice modern hotel with hard mattress and super thick pillows (apart that, it was an excellent place).

2nd place: a private flat in a modern building, I even didn’t get inside since the landlord was cheating and brought me in another place in an old building, of course with the same price. I tried to find an agreement, but when he started to shout in Georgian language, I just picked my stuff and runt away (quickly…)

3rd place: decent room with a strong sewer “flavor”, lack of cleanliness, and stinking super heavy pillows.

4th place: finally I got a nice bright room, but… there were water issues in the shower, so that sometimes water pressure was very little, sometimes extremely strong… sometimes water was very cold, and an instant later ultra hot without touching the knob… Just impossible to have a relaxing shower…

It’s recommended to carefully check the room before accepting it.

– Blinds at the windows are almost not-existent, blackout curtains are rare: better to apply some aluminum foil or dark waste bags on the windows to avoid sunlight in the morning

– Party places were usually not crowded and boring. Some clubs seem scam places for tourists (20€ entrance fee!) with some unappealing men hanging around and inviting you.

– Salsa dancing is not popular at all, I went to a Salsa festival in Batumi and I met only Russians and Ukrainians.

– At the restaurant, waiters can’t “wait” to take used napkins as soon as you put them on the table: a continuous intrusion. Moreover, most of the time, dishes come all together, probably it’s part of their culture to show a table full of food. Service fee (10%) often is exposed in the bill, but some waiters told me that it’s not a tip for them, but it goes to the restaurant (!). Service is usually poor, staff is not trained for the job, they just bring dishes back and forth.

– Queueing, as first come first served, is an unknown behavior; they (as well as Russians) also jump in when a customer is dealing with the staff at the hotel desk.

– Roads are like a jungle: they do not respect signs nor pedestrian strips, they park where it comes, they drive talking or typing on the phone, they are honking all the time, they seldomly use safety belts… on the other side, pedestrian also cross whenever and wherever they like, doesn’t matter if the traffic light is red or is a 3 lanes road…

– Roads are in a bad condition, above all outside of the cities the lack of maintenance is evident.

– Many people are used to walk on the bicycle lane, and (not surprising…) many people use bicycles on the pedestrian street.

– There are not few idiots that drive at very high speed in the city with fast cars or bikes, making a lot of noise when they pass by… it seems that nobody complains about them, in spite they are curious about who is so “noticeable” (!).

– There are several homeless people and gipsy children in the streets, they look quite deprived.

– Better to avoid unofficial taxi, also with official ones is better to agree on rate before leaving. “Maxim” app is recommended to book a taxi from your smartphone, it is simple and reliable (a kind of Uber).



Gonio Inn (both hotel and restaurant are great)

Orbi Residence

Batumi Piazza (often there is live music)

Sazandari restaurant

Botanico cafè



Nana’s home (super-comfy bed, nice room, kind host)

Satsnakheli wine gallery



Maxim app to order a taxi.



GE – Georgia



38 Kutaisi


01 Gonio

MONTENEGRO (Podgorica, Niksic)

– cheap (good 4* hotels are less than 50€, a full meal is around 10€)
– friendly people, they are usually open for a casual small talk
– most people speak English
– sometimes waiters offer a drink for free as hospitality
– they like to party, bars are packed with people even in week days, and you can easily find live music performances
– dishes are most often with large portions, I have only one meal per day after breakfast
– at Bonella shops they have wonderful fruit salads priced 1€
– roads are in decent conditions
– not many tourists (apart summer time)
– people are used to dogs and they get along easily with them
– almost no homeless persons
– taxi drivers are honest, they do not overcharge foreigners (just avoid the few scam taxi at the airport)

– I manage a conversation only with men
– waiters are 99% men
– they hug and kiss between men when they meet
– they never go out alone, it’s something unthinkable in their culture
– girls like to dress up and to be noticed, but it’s just a “mood”, no real action happens
– when they go out for coffee or drink, they are always looking at who is passing on the street; several cafes in the main street have chairs oriented one direction only (the street itself)
– they seems very religious, people make sign of the cross in front of sacred places, and they kiss the doors of the curch
– there are many stray dogs, tame and sometime scared
– it’s a developing country, they lack good infrastructures and their mindset is still backward
– CouchSurfing and Tinder don’t work at all
– no strip bars or sex clubs at all

– dirtyness, parks and rivers are studded of “forgetten” waste like plastic bags, papers, bottles…
– boring, not much to do… natural parks and mountains are the main attractions
– smoking is permitted everywhere, and there is no separate room for it: in restaurants or cafes it’s not so common, but in clubs or party places it’s a widespread habit. It’s even worse because no place has adequate ventilation system
– a few cars go around without license plate (!)
– parties are quite boring, everybody “flutter” around their table, but usually there is no real dance floor. People don’t mix together, they stay only with their friends all the night. I try to “approach” few girls of different age, their reaction was often laughing (kind of…), turn around and move away
– salsa parties are nothing special, music is ugly, there are 70% girls (not interesting and not interested…) but they dance usually with their friends

CentreVille Hotel & Experiences
hotel M Nikic
hotel Yugoslavia
Bonella Green Bazar

ME – Crna Gora


53 Podgorica
08 Podgorica