Friday, July 5, 2013

L'viv For the Weekend :: Day 2 & 3

A week after the happening, this will be a brief account. Perhaps it's better this way.

It took a bit to rouse myself on Saturday morning, but I did it.
I looked around...

Hmm... this doesn't look like Uzhgorod.

The kosmonaut on the wall clued me in tha this was L'viv. I was excited.

I cracked open my guidebook to find a place for breakfast and ended up here. It was a coffee shop tucked into a gallery in some sort of old-something... in other words, it was rad - lofty high ceilings and all. I ordered some eggs and "pearl tea" in honour of the upcoming birth of Pearl Anne Elizabeth (she ended up entering the world and exiting the womb on the 8th!).

From there, I quickly found the city square where I would be meeting up Valiya. Valiya grew up in the same town as Dasha, a friend from Uzhgorod. We easily found each other and started to wander around this beautiful town. Highlights including climbing to the highest point in town, where the castle used to be, and the Apothacary Museum in honour of the bajillion Аптека's around this and most European countries. At one point we found ourselves underneath the city in a dark, damp, cold cavey-tunnel. I liked that.

In general, we leisurely strolled.
L'viv, you've got my heart.

I've seen Europe, yo. Not all of it- but I saw a bit when I was 16-19 years old and living in Switzerland (not a solid three years). I wandered around Vienna and became comfortable in cities like Bern and Luzern. I started to understand the layout of Florence.

L'viv was... dare I say, "precious?" Seriously, L'viv was up there in European cities. I was grateful to be able to spend a few days exploring the nooks and crannies of the cities and I just kept getting surprise after surprise.

And, here's the thing travelers who want to see Europe but don't have many dollars - L'viv is cheap. Super cheap. My hostel was around $11 or $12 a night (too last minute for Couchsurfing). No meal was ever, ever over $5 and I ate quite well. You could easily survive here on $23 a day and be living comfortably (these are my standards of comfort...) and even have a beer or two.

L'viv is beautiful. I know I overuse that word but I mean it in sincerity. L'viv has charm. L'viv hasn't been taken over by tourists. That's something I read and heard over and over again and then experienced myself.

L'viv is still L'viv. There's a lot of European towns (Warsaw and Kiev, for example) that, any local will tell you, doesn't really represent the country or culture at all. Sure, they have the big buildings, but it's been tourist-ized and filled with expats and is jumps away from what real, for example, Ukrainian life is like. Ukrainians are proud of L'viv and for good reason too. It was a clean city that was easy to navigate and really satisfying.

I have yet to hear someone talk down L'viv. I have nothing negative to say.

The evening was ended in two blissful ways.

One was in the this winding tunnel basement cave area below a coffee shop at a Couchsurfer meetup. We managed to fill up a few tables with a combination of travelers, locals, expats, and students - English, Turkish, Ukrainian, Russian, and probably a few other languages were heard.

My favourite connection was with a lad named Peter. Peter of New York. When Peter walked in, he had the familiar haecceity of a programmer - something that years of socializing in Seattle have grown me to become accustomed too. Indeed, he was a programmer to the core. It was comforting me to talk to someone that shared a lot of the mannerisms I'm used to from home. I've seen Americans here (the Racers, for example) as they come through the Nehemiah Center (where I live), but they're all, eh, different - not what I'm used to. Although he was from the East coast, he programmed and that was enough for me.

Later in the evening folks went up for a smoke and I followed (not to smoke). Upon hearing music I didn't hesitate to follow it and found a wooden platform filled with folks salsa dancing. Although I hadn't done salsa since 2007 with Jorge, I hopped up, set my purse underneath a stranger's table (trusting, eh?) and worked to find a dance partner.

I tried to explain, "nuvo" to my partners (I think they thought I was Czech) and started to get whirled about. Sweating was bliss and I was grateful for the experience - although I wasn't always thrilled with my partners. See, though I don't salsa dance, I do dance and I know what a good lead is verse a poor one who is showing off for the new person.

I got sweaty enough and then headed downstairs again to the group. I settled down. Wiped off the sweat... and then went and danced again. Back at in the cave, I was crafting up a plan to go to Poland the next morning and got Peter on board. We both left a bit early (I got caught up in dancing, again) in preparation to catch the 6 AM bus to the border where we could walk across.

That night, I slept like.. crap. Lies! I didn't sleep like crap because I'm sure crap sleeps quite well. I slept like someone who isn't sleeping. What' I'm trying to say is that I didn't really sleep much at all that night. In the middle of the night, I heard dogs barking and the screech of tires and then oh so much yelling. For about 10-15 minutes, the yelling continued and all of the neighbourhood poked their heads out of their windows and stepped out onto their balconies to watch the scene unfold. A lady was furious. I was not thrilled to not be sleeping.

My stomach hurt and I prepped myself to vomit. Joy, right? At around 1 or 2 AM, Peter texted to say he wasn't feel well and was going to skip on Poland. This was a relief to me.

In the morning, I packed up the violin and busked for a bit in the city square, making enough to pay for my two nights in the hostel. (This is where I just need to finish this post). I met up with Peter. We had a splendid day together.

Then I got on the train and thought about how, for me, the train-traveling-part of a trip tends to be my favourite... especially when my train is muchly made of wood.

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