If you had a wish to get a taste of the Slavic world but avoid going as far as Russia is, traveling to Ukraine is the solution to experiment some of the things you are looking for and to get valuable insight. The two cultures have common roots and still share many of the customs and mentalities. Anyone considering a journey through Ukraine must be informed of its largest cities, apart from the capital Kiev. The ones to follow are Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk and Donetsk. It may be good to know that in other places than the capital, prices are at about half. Besides, you can do well if you speak a bit of Russian, as most people in the country are bilingual.
Traveling by train is an inspired way to reach destinations here, since the railways infrastructure has been a concern during the past decades. However, do not expect these means to be too fast, as the main target was just to have an extended network. Motorways are a faster alternative, but beware of the rebel drivers. When it comes to the landscape, there is no great diversity, except for the Western end that gets a bit of the Carpathian mountain range. The typical landscape is represented by farmland and tree-covered areas, but this gives off a relaxing feeling. Crimea is rather distinct though, with hills and slopes meeting the Black Sea in a picturesque view. Yalta and Odessa are the seaside cities to visit.
Ukrainians invested in preserving their rich past, and the vastness of the country will show many places of historical values, where forts, towers, citadels, churches and monasteries still stand proud. The journey can be captivating and thrilling if you know what to visit – for example, the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra catacombs underneath the monasteries, where one can walk among the narrow corridors almost filled with skulls and bones of the generations of monks that lived here throughout the centuries.
Some of the most solid reasons to taste Ukraine reality are concerned with the everyday life, with the unmistakable local favors. There is the specific cuisine with its particularities, like the traditional borsch, then the folk dances that make the day for the foreign visitors. The elements to compose this nation's culture are not to be found anywhere on Western lands, this is why Ukraine is a recommended country to visit, especially when one wants to get closer to people who share such a different past and background.
Even when getting to know the negative parts of life in an ex soviet country, one may come across enlightening experiences, finding deeply human aspects that otherwise would not be noticed. The collapse of the soviet Union caused significant changes within the lives of people. Some of them are looking towards the future, while some are nostalgic about the past. If you are willing to hear their stories, you might greatly benefit of their insight. There is more to be learned where people went through hard times and faced the challenges of life.