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The last time I skied was in Hemsedal Norway in 1994. Since I can’t remember anything I have NOT done for 20 years, it was time to give it another go. My choice of location to rendezvous with the cold white powdery frozen rain commonly known as snow, was the carpathian mountains. Home to Eastern Europe’s largest ski resort, Bukovel in Western Ukraine is also Europe’s newest. The first ski lift was completed only a decade ago. There are now 16 of them working from 8:00 till 21:00 shuttling you to the top of 61 different slopes.
Since the two women I came here with had only skied once before, we spent our time in the beginner’s slopes. They are great for people struggling to control their speed. The only time we got lost and found ourselves in an intermediate piste, both of them were extremely lucky to escape with all limbs attached.
For skiers with experience, neither the intermediate or advanced slopes can be considered challenging. They’re also quite short. I checked out most of them on my own and concluded the beginner slopes were actually more entertaining. If you feel like enhancing the fun, there are bars with beer and hard liquor on top (and in the middle) of every major slope. Alcohol and sports are a great mix in this part of the world.
I recommend molt wine (US$1) or a double honey jack (US$1.50). You’d think that with people drinking and skiing, nothing but mayhem would ensue. That wasn’t the case as I only saw one accident the whole week; a snowboarder who simply forgot to land on the board. A rescue patrol arrived within 10 minutes to take him down the mountain on a sledge.
Apart from the carpathian mountains which are an absolute stunning sight to behold, the Voda Day & Night Club is the only other major attraction worth seeing. The club has an outdoors heated pool that merges with an indoor one that encircles a bar. There are also three jacuzzis and tanning (!) beds. This excellent rest day retreat is walking distance from downtown, about 500 metres from Bukovel’s landmark Radisson hotel. You can see the whole club and pool in the YouTube video.
The information I’d gleaned off of foreigners and locals alike who’d been to this mountain resort before, was that it’s overpriced and terribly lacking in options when it comes to accommodation. The first is probably true, although I didn’t find the food or restaurants particularly pricey. My hotel certainly were but it was of good quality. From what I gather there are at least 10 quality hotels around with easily a couple of hundred huts for rent.
COST OF SKIING IN UKRAINE (CARPATHIAN MOUNTAINS)
$10 for all day if you get there before 9:00. The equipment was ok for me but ideal for beginners as you don’t go too fast.
A full day ski pass cost US$20 when purchased before 9:00. After 9, it jumps to $35. Single rides are $3. On average we utilized the lifts about 8-10 times per day.
$220 per night at Hans Hotel for a two story attached house. It’s 100 metres away from a ski lift. That included breakfast, internet and daily cleaning. An extra bed was a ridiculous $20 per night. DO NOT stay at this hotel.
SWIMMING @ Voda Day Club
Their pricing structure is innovative to say the least. It matters not when you enter but when you leave. Opening hours are from 9:00-24:00. Leave before 13:00: $10, before 17:00: $16, after 17:00: $22.
I guess the idea is to ensure a manageable crowd at all times. Naturally everyone in there around 16:30 left within the next half hour. As did we.
I took the night train from Kiev which cost about $15 per person. It left at 21:00 and arrived 14 hours later in Ivano-Frankivsk. There I got on a bus to Bukovel outside the train-station. Two hours later I was at the hotel.