Travel to meet a Ukrainian woman
I was curious to know how best to reach a Ukrainian woman who doesn't live right in Kiev. I know very little Russian or Ukrainian (a la West Ukraine) but can learn some phrases or bring a translation guide with me. My fear is I'd be an easy target for those in that country who might do me harm (police harassment and bribes, pickpockets, etc.).
If I'm willing to fly 14 hours (with 1 or 2 stops) from the USA to Kiev, would it be a hardship (or would it cause offense) if I asked the woman to travel to meet me in Kiev to make things easier? Or at least pick me up in Kiev and bring me to her town/city? I hear traveling within Ukraine can be problematic and my dearth of knowledge of the language would likely be an issue.
Of course, knowing the woman for 2-3 months via Skype and having a connection with her, I would reimburse her all travel expenses and would pay for her hotel accommodations. Thoughts?
Unless you've been to Russia, Ukraine, or at least Eastern Europe a few times you're going to need HELP, for sure.
The best answer to your question depends heavily on the nature of the relationship with this girl and the city where she lives. If this is someone with whom you've had lots of contact via Skype for 2-3 months, then either option you suggest shouldn't be considered inappropriate (have your meeting in Kiev, or have her at least meet you in Kiev and escort you back to her city). And in many cases a girl from a small town would prefer to meet in Kiev because there is so much more to do there.
The challenge to this approach is the reimbursement for her travel. It is possible that the travel costs - depending on the mode of travel - could be more than she could front. And it's not a good idea to wire her cash in advance for her travel. AND, you have to manage all that without coming off like you don't trust her. Of course if you REALLY trust her, AND/OR you're OK with losing any cash you send in advance in the event that she doesn't show up, then it's simple... send cash in advance to cover her travel to Kiev. But don't say I didn't warn you :)
Other than that... The best answer to this question could depend on her city. If you want to add a comment to this post letting me know her city I will try to refine it a little.
If she lives in a city with an airport serviced by Ukraine International Airlines or Aeroflot (click links and browse for lists of cities they service), that's easiest -- you just book online her round trip ticket to Kiev for her. I doubt that her round trip airfare to Kiev would be more than $200.
If she doesn't live in a city with an airport, it's a little trickier. On the one hand she can probably get to Kiev by train for less than $20, which she could pay and wait for reimbursement, but those trains are UNBELIEVABLY SLOW. Like Kharkov to Kiev is 240 miles and takes around NINE HOURS by train. So asking her to travel by train to meet you is asking quite a lot.
But one thought comes to mind. On a trip to Poltava Ukraine (which does not have an airport) I did a few years ago, the agency sent a representative in a taxi to get me and bring me back to Poltava. It was 3 hours each way by taxi (180 miles each way), and two trips (one to get me when I arrived, one to bring me back to the airport when I departed) cost around $250. I just emailed the agency to verify those numbers and I'll post a follow up comment if my memory was incorrect.
But you can use those rates to guess what a reasonable taxi charge would be and just have her take a taxi... either to come stay in Kiev or to pick you up to bring back to her city. The taxi driver won't be charging her till she gets there, so you can pay the driver yourself.
Does that help?
For follow up questions or comments, just add a comment to this post and I'll answer there.