Two Nights in Lviv

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I think the rail lines ad a certain dystopian charm

So I’m on my second night here in Lviv. There’s a lot to catch everyone up on, but just not enough time in the day to do it. I don’t know how these vloggers and bloggers find the hours to visit exotic places, travel to and from other destinations (just getting to Lviv took about 10 hours yesterday), find hotels, film everything, write their blogs, edit and upload their vlogs, do instagram, do twitter, and keep their facebooks up-to-date! There’s not time! Editing one 9-minute video takes about 2 hours. But maybe I’m just bad at editing.

img_20161007_205627In any case! I’m in Lviv! Medieval fortress city and home of the world-famous Lviv burger! (no it’s not.) Getting here was a nightmare though. Finding the train from Kyiv was one thing–buying tickets when neither you or the ticket-holder know any of each other’s language is an exercise in supreme patience on both parts. But the ride–the ride was the real joy. If there is such a thing as hell, then I have been there. Briefly, allow me to describe it:

Imagine boarding a train that appears clean and orderly, with nice chairs and plenty of overhead space. However, imagine that upon sitting down, you find the seats aren’t as soft as you thought they were. They aren’t rock hard, but the padding isn’t actually padding, as much as it is a piece of fabric stretched over the plastic seat. It’s manageable though. But it’s also narrow. Not too narrow, but just narrow enough to keep you from getting comfortable. Then the armrests are only about an inch wide, with no padding, and are just high enough to make resting your arms on them awkward. The table in front of you is perfect for your laptop. Except, it’s just barely too far away, so your arms are either perched too high on the armrests, or they’re floating in midair as you hold them to type. Then–and this is a real treat–the heater runs right under your seat. Like, literally: right under it and along the wall. This means that you have half the leg space you’d have if you had an aisle seat.

But finally, there’s the screaming child. I recorded it. It’s otherworldly. I didn’t know children could scream for five and a half hours. I do now. I will share the video with you soon. I insist that you watch it.

img_20161007_222408Moving on! Lviv is pretty rad, there’s a lot of diversity in the buildings and the streets and the people you see–a lot of old, traditional looking buildings and people, mixed with younger, hip buildings and adverts plastered over the old edifices, trying to find a way to make them more functional in the 21st century, but not really succeeding.

There are a handful of seriously amazing cathedrals. St. Andrews was probably the best, and perhaps biggest, though they all appear staggering in size when you’re standing below their towering green spires.

IMG_20161007_230345.jpgI couldn’t help but take pictures in all of them, though it was expressly verboten in a few. The ornate work begins to blur together, until you actually start to feel a little jaded and even apathetic to the astonishingly intricate carvings–something of a testament to the bewildering richness of the city that bursts on every corner.

img_20161007_205905No one speaks any English, which is an odd situation to be in. It’s perhaps stranger than it was in China, because here everyone is European, and being from the West, it’s unusual to meet white people who don’t speak English fluently. It also makes you feel strangely helpless–I can’t read the signs, and I can’t ask anyone to translate them for me. Google is a godsend, though so far it really only allows one-way communication: they can’t reply, so their answers have to be confined to a yes or a no in a quickly frustrating real-life version of 20-questions.

I stopped and got lunch at an excellent restaurant called “Kdulblawbezkskyiaki”. It’s not really called that. But I can’t remember how to spell the Ukrainian word for “Friend”, which is what the name meant. It was like a Ukrainian version of a British pub, and it had the most amazing veal steak, with mashed potatoes and veggies. The waitress tried to encourage me to try some sort of bloody sausage, but I told her that’s what I’d had for breakfast and I wanted something different. I think she was disappointed.

I’m loving how far the dollar goes here. A premium hotel goes for about $39 a night. The most amazing meal you’ve ever had will run you about $7, and that’s with a beer. I could get used to this.

img_20161007_215748Now I’m back in my hotel, typing this little ditty up, and contemplating where I’ll go tomorrow. There are some catacombs I didn’t get to see today, and after that, it’s off to the Carpathian mountains. I was going to go to Budapest and Bratislava originally, but they’re so far away–and expensive! It’s $500 just to fly to Vienna, which you have to do since there’s no direct flights to Bratislava. Instead of rushing about trying to see absolutely everything, I think I’ll take in some scenic, pastoral villages and hot mountain springs and get a little nature into the trip.

Oh, and I finally asked: it’s pronounced “greevna”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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