Friday, March 06, 2009

Living Large in Lviv

It was only while looking at the stamp I got in my passport today that I realized that today is one month from when I left Korea. And I've only just made it to the third country. I've entered the EU, but not yet entered the Schengen zone or the Eurozone. That will probably occur in about two weeks when I make it to Greece.

As has often happened in my life, I don't feel like I've done enough to fill up a month. Nine days (including today) have been spent on trains. Twelve in Russian cities and seven in Ukrainian cities. That adds up to twenty-eight.

I think I've kind of stuck within my budget on average. I had a few bumps with regards to taxis on this front, but should not repeat that as I've decided to avoid taxis and make sure I stay at places that give good direction and are close to public transport. I'm using a different website to book hostels which is a lot better than the first site for giving directions. Hostel World for those who want to know. I've used my credit card a lot to get local funds as it's usually been easier than exchanging the cash I have(at least in Russia. The Ukraine and Romania have exchange booths everywhere).I'm going to cut back on that as I have only three, maybe four more countries outside the Eurozone, so I will try and use up my US dollars in those countries, and cash in my travelers cheques when I hit Greece.

I'm on another train as I write this (no surprise there. I seem to pretty much just write these on the train). I have the carriage by myself at this point. There was an Italian couple on board, but they got off around lunch time. In fact, when the train arrived in Lviv, this carriage was not yet part of the train, which initially caused me some confusion as my ticket said I was in car 16 and the train only went up to car 8.

Lviv was a nice town with lots of old buildings. The town center was quite historic looking with lots of statues and churches and other stuff around. My first day I did a walking tour from the Lonely Planet which took in a few churches, a few vacant lots that were synagogues until WWII, Castle Hill which distinctly lacks a castle but does have a good view, a few museums that were closed that day (I tried to go into one, noticed the sign saying it was closed on Wednesdays, thought nothing of it as it was surely later in the week than Wednesday, got confused at the lack of anyone trying to sell me a ticket until one of the men I passed on the way in showed me the sign again, at which point I realized it was indeed Wednesday).

On Thursday I visited Lychakivskiy Cemetery which had many cool tombstones that I was unable to photograph as the battery in my camera died. After the cemetery I went back into town to visit some of the museums and the tower of the town hall. The museum I liked the most was the Arsenal, which as its name suggests has a display of weapons from all over the world including swords, axes, maces, crossbows, pistols, rifles and cannons.

My last four days in the Ukraine I have had dinner at the same chain of restaurants, which is a non all you can eat buffet. The food was good and cheap. I sort of liked the borscht. The soup was good but I'd leave the cabbage behind. I wonder if it's possible to make borscht without the cabbage.

The hostel in Lviv wasn't as good as the others I've stayed at. The building was old and the stairs were not level and it was a bit dank. The theme was good (it was called Kosmonaut and had pictures of Yuri Gagarin on the wall and a vampire Lenin). While I was there I was the only guest, so I had not only a room to myself but the whole place. It was OK, but I prefer the liveliness of the place I stayed in Kiev. Another plus for the Kosmonaut is that I got a free t-shirt from them.

I arrive in Bucharest tonight and will spend a few days there. Then I'll head north a bit to Brasov and do the Transylvania thing (If I'm lucky I'll get to stake a vamp or two, though I doubt it). Then I'll move south again to Sofia in Bulgaria (via Bucharest no doubt) and then onto Istanbul, the second on my "must see" list for this trip (the list includes Moscow, Istanbul, Athens, Rome, Paris and London). Other places are on the "what's cool around or between those places" list. It will probably be about one and a half to two weeks before I arrive in Istanbul. I have a plan for what I'm going to do with my pictures from Istanbul, so look forward to that one.

No comments: