Ukraine, Lviv, 19 – 21 July 2019

Jankowice, Poland to Lviv, Ukraine – First I had to get a visa to Ukraine. I applied for an eVisa on 1 July 2019, this involved uploading copies of my passport photo page, health insurance, bank statement and my hotel booking in Ukraine. The website says that the visa will be issued within nine days, normally eVisa’s are issued the same day or the following day. After not hearing from them for a week I cancelled my Ukraine hotel booking otherwise I would have had to pay for it and sent them an email asking when the visa would be issued. The reply was a standard form saying that my application had been received. I waited another week and sent them another email reminding them of their nine day promise and I received the visa the next day hahaha. So if you are going to visit Ukraine apply for your eVisa a month in advance to be on the safe side. The fact that I changed my hotel made no difference at all at the border crossing, they did not ask to see the hotel booking.

It took 25 minutes to ride to the border no tolls, arrived at 0750 and there was a short queue of cars in two lanes, one for “tax free”. I am not sure why Poland is interested in what people take out of the country. Anyway I rode down the emergency lane to the front and waited at the red lights, they only let a few cars through at a time, I can see how this could become a very long queue by the end of the day. After 5 minutes they turned green and first stop was combined Immigration and Customs, there was another bike up ahead and I stopped behind him and we got told off by the Customs woman for not waiting behind the white line hahaha. She asked me to open my panniers and top box, did not even look inside, stamped my passport and checked my bike registration document and I was through. Before I rode off I checked the exit stamp, this is important because of the 90 days out of 180 Schengen visa free rule. Quite often they will simply glance at your passport and hand it back without stamping it to speed things up, this has happened to me many times. Failing to get this stamp will cause you grief in the future especially if you depart from Schiphol, even though you can show that you have a Ukraine entry stamp which obviously means that you have left the Schengen area. The guy on the other bike turned out to be Ukrainian, who did not speak a word of English but Google Translate to the rescue. We rode a short distance to Ukraine Immigration, first stop you get given a small form with some writing, next my visa was checked and passport stamped and the small form got a stamp. A few meters further was Customs and the guy checked my bike documents, did not have to open my panniers again and stamped the little form. I asked Vitali, the other biker about insurance and he translated for me, the Customs guy said buy it from the Petrol station just outside the exit. Before you can exit you have to hand in the small form and it has to have all the necessary stamps or you won’t get let out. A few hundred meters further on is the petrol station on the right, we rode in there and at the far end is a tiny little tin shack with a woman sitting in it, she took my passport and bike registration and filled in the Insurance form, it cost UAH 130 or €4.45 for 1 month. All done by 0855 or 0955 local time, (Ukraine is an hour ahead) total time taken 1:05 hours and completely painless.

The speed limit is 60 kph through towns, 90 kph on 2 lane roads and 110 kph on 4 lane roads, there are no freeways or toll roads in Ukraine. Vitali riding a new Honda Goldwing which is a 6 cylinder 1800 cc behemoth ignored all limits and I just followed him hahaha. We encountered only one radar check with plenty of warning beforehand and they were too busy writing tickets anyway. Two lane road most of the way in reasonable condition, arrived in Lviv an hour later. This city has trams and cobblestone roads in very bad condition, there is no chance of anyone exceeding 10 kph hahaha, the tram rails are on little hills with valleys in between and the cobblestones are all at different angles, quite an experience changing lanes.

Lviv – has been around for a long time, it is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and the old town has many charming old buildings which have seen better days. Lots of tourists and prices are a quarter of the EU average. Trams or Uber are the best way to get around, trams cost UAH 5 a ride €0.17 a ride, you buy the ticket from the driver and then punch it with one of the machines on the wall of the tram. Uber will get you to most places for around 2 Euro. I bought a Vodafone SIM for UAH 65 0r €2.27 with unlimited 4G Data for a month and calls to other Vodafones and some calls to other phones. But I soon found out you need credit for that and I bought UAH 50 worth, I also paid another 50 to be able to use my phone as a Hotspot.

Rynok Square is the heart of the old town.

Wandering around Lviv, always something interesting around the corner.

The Lviv Historical Museum consists of three small rooms and a courtyard.

Big Churches and Trams that date back to the 15th century.

Lviv Art Gallery inside the Potocki Palace plus wedding 2 and 3 today, all red, black and white.

The Beer Museum, the most entertaining place in Lviv

 

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