Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Post-Soviet Chronicles Part 2: Lviv, Ukraine

Check out Part 1 here!

Pronouncing Lviv

Look, I know what you're thinking. L and v are two consonants, and there must be a vowel in between them. Otherwise what the heck is that sound?! Slavic language 101: they will make the strangest and most impossible combinations of consonants ALL THE TIME. What I find so strange is that the way they pronounce Lv sounds as if you're saying the word "live" (as in "live, damn you! live!") but as short as you possible can. So remind me again why there's no vowel there? Liv is really how we should transliterate that but whatever....

Now the most confusing part is that Lviv is not pronounced "Liv-eve", but it is actually pronounced "Liv-ohv". Now take a second to wrap your head around that one. Whatttttt?

So now that we know how to pronounce Livohv, let's talk about getting there.
A Train Ticket Please

Oh boy. Your first step in getting to this magical Lviv/Livohv place is getting a train ticket. So, your mission is to use hand gestures and horrible broken Russian to determine the following:

1) When the trains depart to Lviv/Livohv;
2) When the trains arrive in Lviv/Livohv;
3) How much the train tickets cost;
4) Which class you would like to ride in.

Now you have somehow managed to struggle your way through purchasing a train ticket (which are actually pretty cheap, maybe ~14 USD) and you're probably pretty excited. You've never gone on an overnight train before; this could be awesome fun! Except when I say "overnight" I mean that you leave at around 3pm one day and arrive around 1am the next day. Because those are certainly the best times for a train to operate, right?

And then you find yourself on this train. And you discover that each 'cabin' has four bunks. Two at knee-height and two more above. And you discover that you are on the top bunk. And then you discover that no, there is no ladder or reasonable way to climb up to this top bunk. You instantly regret not taking advantage of those soviet-era neighborhood pull-up bars as you attempt to ascend to the top bunk. You manage to spill all of your chips (your only meal for the next 13 hours) on the floor while simultaneously being unable to apologize or explain yourself to anyone in your cabin.  

This is of course hypothetical, and it certainly did not happen to me. Just an example of what could happen.

The train on the way back to Kyiv had SIX beds in a cabin!

The best part about the train ride is either the size of the bunk bed or the general stability emanating from the train. No matter how you lay in the bunk, your feet manage to somehow dangle out in the most awkward way while someone walks by and bumps into them. Talk about an unpleasant experience if your podophobic. Now the worst part is, if you can finally find a position in which you are comfortable you finally realize just how much the train is swaying back in forth. 

Look, I drive a lot of long distances, and I've flown a fair amount, but I have never ever ever thought I was going to motion sick until that moment. Holyyyyy crappppp. Even when you're finally off the train you feel like you're still on it for the next day or so. I'll admit that a lack of sleep and substantial food probably contributed to this, but nonetheless 

Now finally, the journey ends when a lady comes and screams at you in Russian (or Ukrainian) about it being your stop. You, of course, understand nothing but for some reason decide to ask the question "shto?" (which means what?) as if somehow her repeating herself is going to make you understand better. Nope. Just as clueless the second time. 

The Origin of Sauron from The Lord of the Rings

I don't know, you tell me...


The arsenal in Lviv:

Okay maybe not, but I am not convinced one way or the other.

Germany or Ukraine?

I guess it is common knowledge that Lviv had some major architectual influences from Germans, and it is super obvious too. A lot of the streets and the buildings look very European to begin with, but they look especially German. I remember walking through certain parts of the city and being very certain I was back in Frankfurt or something.

Anyways Lviv had a lot of cool old churches and stuff, but ultimately I found the city kind of boring. I am sure it is much better in the summer, and we also didn't do all that much. We did manage to find a confederate biker's club in an alley somewhere, though regretfully we didn't decide to enter...

Da. Let's go!

More Random Pictures of Borscht

I must have been shaking from excitement when I took this picture

Mmmm. Borscht.

Didn't actually order this one, but it looks so good I had to include it!

Part 3 is up next, and it will mostly cover my short time in Dushanbe and fun trying to get out of the city!

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