Nikolaev Travel Guide

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Nikolaev or Mykolayiv as it is known in Ukrainian is a city with half a million inhabitants. It's a major industrial center of the South with shipbuilding and machine engineering.

Located some 120km east of Odessa, Nikolaev is on the main highway between Odessa and Kherson. A 2 hour taxi ride or perhaps slighly longer bus ride from Odessa airport it sits on the confluence of the Southern Bug and Ingul rivers with a good naviagtion to the Black Sea. 

Sights and things to do include the Nikolaev Theater of Ukrainian Drama and Musical Comedy (founded in 1959), the Museum of Arts with the paintings by local artistst such as Aivazovski, Bogaievski and Yablonska. Furthermore Nikolaev has some monuments built in the style of classicism: best known are the Museum of Shipbuilding and the Church of Nicholas.

Nikolaev as a travel destination has much to commend the more adventurous traveller. It has evolved from its more problematic times with drugs and HIV/Aids which followed after Ukraine gained its independance from Russia.

The shipyards were a key employer but with the scaling down of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and the financial woes of the early 90's many people fell on hard times losing their savings and the certainties of communist life. With the change to a market economy the fledgling capitalists have begun to make significant changes to the city environment.The city centre now has many new shops selling many pan european products,new supermarkets with vast choices, shops with luxury goods and some decent cafes and restaurants. New cinemas and new apartments and the renovation of the existing apartments. The centre also has the ubiquitous McDonalds and an explosion of banks.  The availability of credit has allowed new cars to become common place and in the last 2 years the quality of taxis in the city have greatly improved. Whilst the transformation may not be to everyone's taste and as in all change there are winners and losers there seem to be many positives. The throngs of people who promenade the centre street in the evenings would seem to indicate an enthusiasm for the future and the clothes and style of mainstream Europe are there for all to see.

If improvements in basic infrastructure such as roads and reliable electricity supplies can be made and sufficient entreprenuerism can be harnessed then the city can further develop and make itself a destination in its own right rather than a pass through on the road from Kherson to Odessa.It has many positive attributes which if correctly developed could provide some interesting tourist opportunites. The people are generally friendly,helpful and attentive and need all the support from tourism and other business opportunities they can get and they deserve it.

The joint hosting of the 2012 European Football Championship with Poland will hopefully allow some money to develop transportation systems in southern Ukraine especially if Odessa becomes one of the nominated venues, all though it is only a reserve city at present.

I hope many more people will experience the charms of southern Ukraine and choose to visit Nykolaev so that they give the the local economy a well deserved boost. It will be a rewarding experience if you are a true traveller.

 

 

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