Chernivtsi is an attractive city in western Ukraine close to the Romanian border. It has absorbed influences from several countries due to times it changed hands of various powers and yet retains a fully Ukrainian feel. The language spoken here is Ukrainian not Russian.
The architecture is varied and beautiful and the old trams from Soviet times are still retained. They seem that much older than other cities. There are several beautiful churches, colourful houses and buildings with dusty streets. The relative quietness of the pedestrian main street (Other streets were busy) with cafes with outside seating, it was great to sit outside, relax and watch the passersby. It helped that did not feel as cramped as Lviv. Chernivtsi has retained its elegance and feels like a city still in past glories.
It is full of history. There is former Armenian Catholic church that is now a Hall of Organ and Chamber music.
Closed ostensibly by the Soviets after the apparent ‘suicide’ of the priest. The ‘drunk’ church of St Nikoly. Known by that name because of the twisted turrets. The beautiful architecture of the railway station and the elegant Chernivtsi University with beautiful grounds and architecture. A guided tour is recommended and necessary for visitors to see some parts.
Chernivtsi also had a large pre-war Jewish population that has never recovered numerically from the dark days. The heritage is there to see though.
On the way to Chervitsi I met Diana, a model from Chernivtsi and living in Lviv on the sleeper train. Her level of English can be considered as lower elementary. However she was very kind and friendly and we managed to communicate mostly through gestures and broken English. I lost a lot of planned sleep but I as I enjoyed talking it was no problem.
I arrived in Chernivtsi and stayed in its premier hotel – Hotel Bukovina.
It was very reasonably priced, and clean which meant that the sometimes confused service could easily be tolerated. It is a welcoming city.
My snail mail friend Irene showed me around. Her spoken English is in my opinion of native level and her knowledge of her city is thorough which helped me appreciate the historical heritage of the city.
The staff of the museum I visited were eager to explain to Irene (to tell me) every small and interesting detail of the work within.
Chernivitsi doesn’t get the numbers of Lviv. I would say visit both. They both exceptional cities.
Sleeper Trains are a great way to meet people and get around Ukraine. It would take roughly two days to go end to end in Ukraine. 2nd class is very comfortable and cheap so if you are not pushed for time this is the best way to get around Ukraine and meet new people.
You can purchase some food and drink abroad but the selection is limited.