by Vas Mylko, Roman Bilusiak

Hey curious travelers, we have installed our AI engine Ingeenee in Ukraine. The result is Curious Ukraine —the smartest road trip planner for Ukraine. You can create cool multi-point journeys in the desired area for the required number of days & budget. Curiosio is giving you what you know you want, plus the extra that is possible that you don’t know.

You could jump right away to https://curiosio.com to give it a try. It works in Chrome and Chromium, most probably in Safari [we did not test]; doesn’t work in Firefox [because of a weird networking issue]. We recommend you keeping reading to learn how we thought, made, tested the travel superguide in the country that is our motherland♡.

Ingeenee overlooking the Tunnel of Love in Ukraine. Original photo by Myroslava Rakovets, CC BY-SA 3.0

A dozen of facts you may not know about Ukraine that will tease you to plan your journey there:

Ukrainians designed and built the biggest in the world cargo aircraft Antonov An-225 Mriya (and before that An-124 Ruslan); Korolyov’s rockets brought the first satellite Sputnik in orbit, and then the first human Gagarin; Glushkov’s Cybernetics; Address programming language by Kateryna Yushchenko; father of helicopter Sikorsky; father of Deep Learning Ivakhnenko; first modern postal code; co-founder of PayPal Max Levchin; heavyweight boxers Klitschko brothers; prime minister of Israel Golda Meir; one of the 100 geniuses of today painter Ivan Marchuk; a famous Christmas song “Carol of the Bells” by Leontovych; Milla Jovovich and Mila Kunis; Viennese coffee by Kolschitzky; and of course borscht.

To test and validate Curiosio in Ukraine we took a few travel stories and converted them into interactive trip plans with itineraries and routes. We designed a few Curiosio Originals. You could do the same with any itinerary you like — just take the points and throw them into the biggest text field. The first point will be the one where you begin, the last point will be the one where you end, and all the points between them are the ones you know and want to visit.

Ukraine Special, Top Gear Special

The Ukraine Road Trip was a road trip featured in the 3rd episode of Top Gear’s 21st series. The three presenters took a trip across Ukraine, from Yalta up to the capital city of Kyiv. They visited the radioactive exclusion zone with the towns of Chernobyl and Pripyat. Jeremy Clarkson ran out of fuel almost at the epicenter of the terrible nuclear Chernobyl disaster (happened in April 1986 during soviet times).

This Top Gear episode was aired in February 2014. Shortly after that Russia annexed Crimea. We augmented the itinerary to start in Odessa because it’s no longer possible/safe to start in Yalta.

Pictures of the Strategic Missile Forces Museum were generously given to Curiosio by Yevhen Mionchynskyy

You will encounter the large open-air Strategic Missile Forces Museum near the town of Pobuzke about 250 km / 160 mi south of Kyiv. The museum was built around the remains of a former underground Unified Command Post for RT-23/SS-24 ICBM rockets.

Despite the huge dark soviet legacy in it, this itinerary is interesting and joyful. It features nice and beautiful places, cultural and historic differences between the regions, religious pilgrimage sites… and a big steppe. A self-driving car would be useful to cross the steppe so that you could entertain yourself in other ways.

Wines & Wineries of Southern Ukraine

“The wine industry of Ukraine is well-established with long traditions. The viticulture regions are situated predominantly in close vicinity to the Black Sea coast in Southern Ukraine as well as around the Tisza valley of Zakarpattia Oblast… A wine culture existed in today’s Ukraine already in the 4th century BC at the south coast.” Wikipedia.

Pictures of the South of Ukraine were generously given to Curiosio by Denys Khromov

We took a dozen of wine-related points in the South of Ukraine and thrown them on the algorithm. In other words, we entered those points in Curiosio main text field, hit [GET TRIP], and got a wine-themed route. Actually, we entered a bit more: Olbia — an ancient Greek city on the shore of the Southern Bug estuary, Kurisove village with a palace in Arabic style.

You can read about Ukrainian wines & wineries & awards at ukr.wine.

Golden Horseshoe Around Lviv

This must not be confused with Golden Horseshoe — a region of Ontario in Canada, from Niagara Falls to Clarington, along Lake Ontario. Ukrainian Golden Horseshoe is a horseshoe-shaped route through several castles on the West from Lviv. The castles of Olesko, Pidhirtsi, Zolochiv, and Svirzh are located along the arc that resembles a rotated horseshoe.

Some people find this arc resembling a horseshoe

You could customize this trip plan by adding or removing the points. E.g. if you want to include Pomoriany Castle from Pomoriany village — open the trip plan, click [Supertrip], insert Pomoriany point, and click [GET TRIP]. Curiosio will create brand new trip plans that will contain Pomoriany and the Pomoriany Castle in it. The plans will also contain all previous points — Olesko, Pidhirtsi, Zolochiv, and Svirzh — if you allocated enough time and money for the number of travelers.

More Culture & More Wine

If you got enough time you could take a truly comprehensive road trip through Ukraine. We took inspiration from The Travel Magazine. It begins in Lviv, ends in Kyiv. The Carpathians included.

Several major Ukrainian wineries are located in Zakarpattia oblast. Famous Ukrainian tennis player, the former World #31 — Sergiy Stakhovsky — makes wines there since 2015 — Stakhovsky Wines. Maybe you will start hitting aces after the Ace wine.

Ukrainian Knowledge Graph

Ukraine is the second-largest country in Europe. But it is almost absent from the English-speaking resources that we are using in Curiosio — English Wikipedia and Atlas Obscura. There are about 30k cities, towns, villages, and hamlets, but only ~5% of them are present on EN WP. The same is true for POIs.

The dots connected when we started designing “Flower” road trips. It will be Beta15. To increase the density of the places of certain types in the United States we decided to start using OpenStreetMaps data. Over 200 different tags are used to pull data from OSM. We are testing what we are getting in Ukraine first.

Census points and parks in Ukraine [without occupied territories]

Coverage is very dense but the quality of content is often questionable. We wish the quality of OSM data would be orders of magnitude better… Interesting, why the Ukrainian government isn’t funding the filling of Wikipedia? Maybe we will fund authoring English and Ukrainian Wikipedia ourselves when we get rich.

We had to implement the additional filter over OSM to cut off some theoretically useful data. Your feedback on Curious Ukraine will help us to tune the filter. A transformer might be needed besides the filter. The new filter/transformer will be applied to the data for the OSM data for the United States then, and eventually for all other countries.

Kudos & Thanks

It’s not only hard with English datasets for Ukraine. As you probably noticed we use neither copyrighted nor creative commons imagery for the signature trips — those interactive trip plans in the carousels that you could play with, tune, customize. We use visuals from the public domain or CC0. There are not enough such photos of Ukrainian places.

Kudos and thanks to Yevhen Mionchynskyy for giving us his photos of the Strategic Missile Forces Museum, and for Sofiyivka Park & New Sofiyivka fantasy park in Uman.

Kudos and thanks to Denys Khromov for giving us his photos of the Beykush Winery, Olbia archaeological site, Mauritanian palace in Kurisove. He granted us even more pictures of the other cool places, but we have not used them yet.

See Something? Say Something

Play with Curiosio, don’t be shy to enter multiple points, remember that the first and the last points are where you start and finish (some users still don’t get that and continue entering only one point — destination). You can enter up to 30 points simultaneously. Set perimeter to tell Curiosio where you are interested to travel. Tell us what you like/dislike, what you need. Curiosio must become the absolutely smartest road trip guide in the world.

We are dreaming of running our Ingeenee on top of Google’s Knowledge Graph because they have/know everything about everything… We are working on usability, there is a plan to redesign Beta16 interaction similarly to Google Maps. But first there will be Flowers with Beta15. Stay tuned and always follow your curiosity.

Один на горі (Alone on the Mountain), photo by Smyk iLya, CC BY-SA 4.0

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