Who took “the” from Ukraine?

I have no idea why, but Ukraine used to be The Ukraine from what I can remember. I don’t know when that changed or what the motivation was. Maybe they traded it to The Gambia in exchange for coconut exports; stranger things have happened.

Whatever the reasoning, I’m sure we won’t figure it out over the next two weeks as we explore the country. We’ll be in Kiev, Odessa, Simferopol, Bakhchisaray and Yalta. There will be planes and trains and hopefully a funicular or two. And there will be food and drink galore.

The flight routing looks something like this:

We’ve got business class award seats on Lufthansa, Austrian (Tyrolean) and United Airlines (100,000 points each) to go with a revenue flight on WizzAir. Not bad at all for relatively high season in Europe.

On the hotel front things will be interesting. The dearth of western-branded properties in Ukraine only reinforces my belief that focusing on those programs would be a waste of money for me. I’m sure that the Grand Hyatt or Radisson Blu in Kiev are lovely but there’s no way they are worth the asking price, even on points. Just not happening.

Expect more reports from the road over the next two weeks; I certainly plan to be writing them.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Ukraine means “border lands” in Russian. Hence the “the.” It was the frontier

  2. Yeah, I think it is a factor of it having been a part of the Soviet Union when it was known as The Ukraine. Since the break up and independence it has been just Ukraine. And I think it is a very sensitive subject.

  3. Oh, and I will also be interested to hear how it goes. My total lack of familiarity with that part of the world, the language, the alphabet, etc has held me back somewhat.

  4. James Kunz, this is not true. Name “Ukraine” comes from “kraina” which means “country” in Ukrainian. There are similar words in other slavic languages, e.g. “serbska kraina”.
    Seth, I am from Ukraine, you can ask me any questions if you like, I will gladly answer. I would recommend including Lviv in your trip, it is very different and absolutely lovely historical city. Train trip from Kiev is only 4 hours by express train.

  5. Kiev – metropolitan, Odessa – laid back city on the sea, Simferopol – skippable point of arrivaldeparture, Bakhchisaray – colorful and Yalta – the worst of land grabbing competing interests. Grand Hyatt was wonderful sterile American chain hotel (stayed there right before Sec. Clinton’s visit) and Radisson Alushta – in the beautiful 1913 building. Beaches are nothing to write home about – large stones, access is divided/barricaded between various owners, old rottening wavebrakers/piers spoil the beauty. But travel around is cheap and full of adventures. Enjoy!

  6. I will be looking forward to your report. I am thinking about visiting Ukraine someday as we have enjoyed visits to some of their neighboring countries.

  7. Korrinda:

    from Rus. Ukraina, lit. “border, frontier,” from u- “at” + krai “edge.”

  8. That must be translated from some Russian dictionary. 🙂
    In fact “moya kraina” means “my country” in Ukrainian.
    “U kraini” means “in country”.

  9. Ahhh you’re one of those crazy Ukrainian nationalists aren’t you? I know it sucks to admit that your name came from the hatred Russians, rather than your own special language, but that seems to be the case. Look it up.

  10. James, I think you took not appropriate tone of discussion. I am half-Russian and I am Russian speaking. And I think it’s not polite to call somebody’s language “your own special language”.

  11. Slavic languages do not use (nor do they need) articles. Words like ‘the’, ‘an’, ‘a’ don’t exist. Ukranian is a language within the eastern branch of the Slavic branch of the Indo-European tree.

    A sentence such as “Give me an Apple” might sound like: Daite mne Yablako” as in “Give (to) me (an) Apple” Why use more words when you can make do with less?

    Now if you had to be specific you could say “Give me THOSE Apples” in which case you could say “Daite mne eti Yablakii” or insert a number in place of that/those and make sure you conjugate endings correctly.

    Actually, most languages in the world DO NOT use articles. Germanic and Romance languages are the exception, rather than the norm.

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