About ten days ago I discovered the results of a poll by «The Guide to Sleeping in Airports» claiming the Boryspil International Airport is one of the worst transit platforms in the world (more on this here). At about the same time though, the influential tourist guide book « The Lonely Planet » ranks the country third among the places to visit in 2012! Here is what the latest « Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel » says:
When we don’t know much about a country, we just fill in the gaps with clichés – and Ukraine, the great unknown of Europe, has had plenty hurled at it. Wide-scale counter-espionage? No, not even in Odessa. Communist grime everywhere you look? One glimpse of glorious Old Town Kiev or the wildlife on unspoilt Crimean shores will set you straight. Cheap beer? You bet: it’s cheaper than water. Football? Funny you should mention that…It’s through the power of soccer that Ukraine is poised to showcase its charms to unprecedented numbers of visitors. It will co-host Euro 2012 (the European footballchampionships) and the four match venues have been cunningly selected to encourage further travel by visiting football fans. So Lviv becomes the jumping-off point for Carpathian exploration, while Kiev, which stages the final, will become base for forays to the Black Sea coast and, yep, the grim tourist attraction that is Chernobyl.
This commercial statement does not really contradicts the « Sleeping in the Airports » one. Ukraine is not Switzerland, and is not advertised as such. Come and look for adventure and cheap beer! Luckily enough it does not mention « quality Ukrainian girls » as I may see elsewhere. Yet someone should have checked on the unspoilness of Crimean shores before writing this text…
I remember being dragged by friends to northern Georgia a few months ago, just because the almighty Lonely Planet, edition 2008, had promised an untouched and remote land that even Soviets did not dare to enter. After nine hours in a spine-breaker marshutka, we had ended up in a chaotic touristic place under total reconstruction, a brand new tourist information center, similar or higher prices than in Tbilisi. And crowds of Western backpackers, Lonely Planet books in hand. So much for the wildness.
So should I expect the Lonely Planet to impact Ukraine the same way? I would not believe there won’t be any adventure left here within a few years. What I can realistically hope for, is the price of beer to remain lower than water’s…