After another long train trip we arrived bright and early in Lviv. Lo and behold the weather wasn't stinking hot, we actually had to dust off the jumpers.
Lviv was yet another type of city entirely. There is a much more Western European feel, at least at first, it isn't hard to look for reminders about being in Ukraine. This was especially the case as we arrived on Ukrainian independence Day, so many flags!
After settling in we headed out to see what sort of celebrations were taking place. These ranged from singing Ukrainian national songs in front of a statue of the country's favorite poet, Taras Shevchenko to strong-man competitions in the street. We ended up heading in for an early night (passing a few scuffles on the way) but from the sound coming off the street the celebrations continued for some time.
The next day Adam came down with a head cold so we decided to climb a big hill and see if that would fix him up. It didn't but we got some great views of the old town from the top.
We rested up a bit after that to try and help Adam recover. On the way home from tea that night we saw a very drunken driver pull out from his park only to swerve directly into a parked Mercedes, whoops! No worries though he just drove off. Mental note: Do not cross the road (or footpaths) here without knowing the car heading towards you is stopping.
We spent another two days in Lviv doing a walk around the old town one day, which unfortunately was covered in scaffolding but still very interesting, if not at its most attractive. On the other day we headed out to Lychakivsky Cemetery which was cool. The whole place has about 400000 people buried in it and is overgrown, overcrowded and very, very goth. We saw some of the most beautiful and spooky looking gravestones and family tombs ever. We ended up spending several hours wandering around.
The next city we hit was Chernivtsi, a smaller university town close to the border with Romania, Moldova and Poland. What a university too! The buildings looked as though they were designed by an architect on LSD who decorated the buildings with bumps and bits, mosaics and all sorts of other stuff. None of the photos we took could really capture the feeling the place had, very strange.
Just out of Chernivtsi we visited the hugest markets in the country, attracting 50000 shoppers daily. It was really cool going from walkways full of wedding dresses, candles etc to anything you could ever need in the garden shed to toiletries, food, cloth and everything else under the sun, or under the overcast sky as it turned out.
The last town we visited was Kamyanets-Podilsky, a tiny little place in a spectacular setting. The old town is positioned on a bend in the river which has cut a 50 metre deep canyon around it. Added to this there is a massive fortress positioned above the town which you can climb all over and is simply amazing to look at. It was so much fun exploring with no restrictions that Eva decided to go into an unlit tunnel and disappear into the blackness as she fell down a flight of stone steps. You should see the bruise!! Luckily for you all you wont be exposed to the sight of it as it is somewhere that doesn't usually see the sun.
That pretty much sums up the where and what of Ukraine for us, much more to come though...(plus photos)Photos: The castle at Kamyanets-Podilsky