"The Toon Army in Kharkiv" Top 5 Page for this destination Kharkiv by toonsarah

Kharkiv Travel Guide: 171 reviews and 454 photos

The Pokrovsky Monastery

When Newcastle United reached the last 32 of the Europa League in 2013 we held our breath to see what team we would be drawn against, dreaming of a trip to warmer climes – maybe Italy, Spain or Portugal. Instead we got Metalist Kharkiv – a team we had never heard of, in the eastern depths of chilly Ukraine. Would we go? You bet we would!

So we booked flights and hotel, applied for match tickets, and then started to do some research into where we were headed. I learned that we would be in Ukraine’s second largest city, a major industrial centre (Metalist take their name from the metal-workers who founded the club) but one not without history and attractions for the visitor, including some stunning churches.

A goalless draw in the home leg meant that all was to play for in the match in Kharkiv. We didn’t expect to go through the round, but we knew we had a chance. So match-night saw us wrapped up against the cold and heading for the stadium in good spirits (Newcastle fans are always in good spirits away from home, even after a defeat!)

In the end a 1-0 win, thanks to a Shola Ameobi penalty, was enough to see us through, and a good trip became an excellent one!

The rest of our time in Kharkiv was a mix of socialising with fellow fans and a bit of sightseeing. We didn’t see all that the city has to offer but we explored some of the main sights in the centre, such as the huge expanse of Ploshchad' Svobody (Freedom Square) with its still-standing statue of Lenin, the beautiful churches in the Pokrovsky Monastery complex, as well as some other churches, squares and attractive neo-classical buildings.

We also had some fun practicing our very limited Russian and naturally enjoyed more than a few beers and the odd (very good) local vodka. The trip was all in all an excellent mix of football, fun with friends, and sightseeing.

But before we start to explore, we must be sure where we are going! Hence my first tip, What’s in a name?

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Some architectural gems worth seeking out
  • Cons:Cold in winter
  • Last visit to Kharkiv: Feb 2013
  • Intro Updated Mar 6, 2013
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Reviews (30)

Comments (9)

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Jul 9, 2013 at 1:57 AM

    Me again, coming back to read the rest of your Kharkiv tips. (I was interrupted last night.)
    Haway the Lads!

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      Jul 9, 2013 at 2:08 AM

      Thank Don. Sadly the Lads won't be in Europe again next season, or any time soon, so it was great that we could make the most of this opportunity :-)

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    May 31, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Nice to be able to see the ball get knocked around a bit and still see sites.

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      Jun 1, 2013 at 5:56 AM

      Thanks Bruce. It was a great trip, and a place we would never have visited had it not been for the football!

  • yumyum's Profile Photo
    Apr 8, 2013 at 3:04 AM

    Great page on snowy Kharkiv! I was there for a week in 2004 and I reckon it must have changed a fair bit, especially looking at that fancy hotel. :-)

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      Apr 8, 2013 at 7:16 AM

      Yes, I reckon it must have changed a bit since then! It's an odd mix of old Soviet Communist relics (that statue of Lenin) and in-coming Western Capitalism (branches of MacDonalds and designer shops). I think the football tournament last year was a big catalyst for change.

      Thanks for checking out my page :-)

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Apr 7, 2013 at 7:53 AM

    Another spectacular page Sarah! I enjoy see all the wonderful things mentioned here. Thanks.

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      Apr 7, 2013 at 11:13 AM

      Thank you very much Dee - so glad you enjoyed the page :-)

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Mar 16, 2013 at 2:11 AM

    Thank you dear Sarah for a fabulous description of your days in Kharkiv :-)) You seem to have had nice weather in between - this blue sky and the golden cupolas (?) make nice photo opportunities :-)

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      Mar 16, 2013 at 3:18 AM

      We did have good weather - well, grey and sleety the day we arrived, but otherwise bright. Cold though, but that was only to be expected ;-)

  • starship's Profile Photo
    Mar 11, 2013 at 9:02 AM

    Great page, Sarah, and by the way I'm glad your team won! Seems like you had quite a nice time in Kharkiv and I appreciate the virtual tour. Was suprised to see the very modern, Hollywood-themed hotel. Also noted that all the people playing chess near the metro were men!! My husband would have loved to sample the many local beers and I would have been thrilled to finally visit a place where the prices seem insanely inexpensive!! However, anytime someone "mistakenly" or not shorts you on a money exchange, it surely does leave a bad taste in your mouth. That happened to me in a store in Cairns last year and I am convinced the store clerk counted on tourists not to check their change after a purchase and would have pocketed the money. Let's just say it made me very unhappy!

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      Mar 11, 2013 at 9:29 AM

      Thank you for visiting Kharkiv with me Sylvia :-) Yes, I looked carefully - there were no women playing chess, although several were watching the games. The money exchange thing was annoying but luckily not significant enough to spoil the trip

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Mar 9, 2013 at 4:52 AM

    Well done, Sarah! Your aerial view of the city are great! Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Mar 6, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    Fantastic page about your footie trip to Kharkiv. I have already visited Ukraine three times but never made it to the eastern part of the country. So maybe next Europa League season. *winkygrin*

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      Mar 7, 2013 at 12:58 AM

      We would certainly never have been to Kharkiv were it not for the football, but we had a great couple of days. Personally I would have liked to have done a little more sightseeing and (just) a little less beer drinking, but I understood that on a football trip beer and meeting other fans are also important ;-)

    • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
      Mar 7, 2013 at 2:43 AM

      That's exactly what I thought in Istanbul as well. *winkygrin*

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Mar 5, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    Hello,Sarah! I will come back for more reading, but your page is already brilliant! I do have to revisit this amazing city some day...

toonsarah

“I slept on the strange pillows of my wanderlust”

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