Lviv to Krakow, tomorrow

My trip is nearly at an end. I leave Lviv for Krakow tomorrow morning, assuming I can get anyone to sell me a ticket. I tried at both the ticket office and the train station, but no-one will sell me a ticket (except for first class) until this evening. I have no idea why, I’m sure Min was able to get a ticket two days in advance. Hopefully the train won’t be sold out by the time I get there. Otherwise I’ll catch the bus, which doesn’t sound anything like as comfortable, but would actually be faster. It sounds like lots of people try to smuggle cheaper goods in Poland from Ukraine so hassles and delays at the border are common.
Yesterday I climbed to the ‘High Castle’ for a view over Lviv, today I’ve seen some museums. I’ve also been going to coffee houses, as Lviv is famous for them, and I never need an excuse to drink coffee.
Back in London September 3, in case you’re wondering. I may have already said that, I have a goldfish memory.

Always with you and for you – closed until September 7

Another mixed-up Ukrainian day.
I got the overnight train from Chernivsti to Lviv last night. The one guy in my carriage at the start was a lawyer, and spoke some English, and more German. He was nice, so we chatted a bit. We were woken by the arrival of a Russian Ukrainian couple in the middle of the night, who seemed to have saved their conversation (and meals) all day so they could have them in our carriage in the middle of the night.
When we were leaving the train this morning, the lawyer said he was going the same way as one of the sights I wanted to see, and did I want to go with him, as he had time before his court appointment? He doesn’t like public transport, so we ended up walking about 5km (more with detours) to the Lychakivsky Cemetary. It was actually a lovely introduction to the city, and I coped a lot better after we stopped for coffee, and he was able to translate things I never would have guessed.
We had a very late breakfast (of pizza, again) then he went to court and I went to do more touristy things.
On the way, I passed the Lviv Tourist Board office, so I thought I’d pop in and get some free maps and ask a few questions. When I got to their office, there were two signs on the door: “Lviv Tourist Board – Always with you and for you” and “Closed until September 7”. So much for that.
I will have to post a link when I remember how I found them, because I’m staying in the best apartment in the world. It’s right on Rynok, and it was really affordable, and it’s just lovely. I can see the town hall from my bed. And it has a kitchen, so I’m not stuck with waitresses trying to sneak meat into my meals (happened again last night but I spotted it before eating anything).
I really like what I’ve seen of Lviv so far. It’s rainy so tomorrow I’ll check out some museums and the coffee bars that Min recommended. Life could be worse.

By the way, I’ve been uploading photos to Flickr as I go, internet cafes allowing. Sometimes I can’t use the USB stick, sometimes I can’t check my email, I never know what I’ll be allowed to do.


Arrived on the overnight train from Lviv this morning. Checked into dodgy hotel, spent the day wondering around the fortress.
Had a very strange breakfast (pizza with boiled egg on a sweet base – what?) and a brilliant lunch. Lunch was at Gostynny Dvir, no English menu but I said I was vegetarian and they made me a really yummy veggie lunch.
Khotyn tomorrow, then Chernistvi. I think I’ll also pop over to Kolomyya (two good museums, apparently) for a day trip from Chernivtsi.

“Internet firms have been criticised by UK MPs for “collaborating” with state censorship of the web in China.
Businesses such as Microsoft, Google and Yahoo blocking some information was “morally unacceptable”, the Commons foreign affairs committee said.” BBC
Having seen that even in Ukraine some cafes seem to block gay or lesbian content, it’s clear that internet censorship is still an important issue that has a real effect on the lives of a country’s citizens.
In other news, while looking for an internet cafe, I managed to stumble across one of the very few gay bars or clubs in Kiev. Woo!
(And in other news, Stary Kiev, listed as a ‘gay cafe’, has closed).
Tomorrow is Ukraine Indepedence Day (Den Nezalezhnosti), so it’s a great day to be in Kiev. IYP says, “to give you an idea of what Independence Day on the streets of Kyiv is like, imagine a cross between a huge outdoor rock concert and civil unrest.”
Train to Kamynets-Podilsky tomorrow night.

I’ve been reading updates from this site for a while now, so it is really strange to realise that I’ve been at the Khan’s Palace in Bakhchysaray so soon afterwards. My experience as a tourist who doesn’t speak the language and doesn’t have any local contacts is of course really different, so go read this instead: Arrival at the Khan

Not on plane

Just in case you’ve seen something about a plane crash in Ukraine on the news, we weren’t on it. We are flying to Kiev tomorrow, where I’ll be overnight, while Min flies onto Lviv.
Had an interesting dinner here in Simferopol last night, the idiotic waitress not only tried to give us meat dishes, she tried to charge us lots of extra hrivna for all kinds of random things. Min has a written thing explaining in Ukrainian what we don’t eat, and I explained as best I could in Russian, we don’t know if the waitress was just terminally stupid or just greedy and mean. So avoid the restaurant Ulf-Topor in Simferopol, especially if you’re vegetarian. We’re going to write to them and complain, but also to explain why vegetarians don’t like being served meat dishes.

I keep forgetting to mention that we’re being followed around Crimea by Russia’s Eurovision 2006 entrant, Dima Bilan. He came second, and was the guy with the ballerina in his piano. We’ve heard the song “Never Let You Go” everywhere we’ve been, and in fact they’re playing what sounds like the live version from last night’s concert in the internet cafe right now.