George Johnston: July 23rd

I got a very nice train from Uzhhorod to Lviv, though it was rather slow for the first part of the trip through the mountains, The train continued from Lviv to Zaporizhzhia well east of Odessa so all of the dozen or so cars were sleepers with compartments for four people. No one was in mine for my part of the trip, but since it was in the afternoon from 1:20 to about 7:30 I didn’t use it as a bed. The ticket included two cups of tea served by the porter, but I only took one. It had electricity so I could run the GPS and keep the phone charged. The restroom was clean and modern. It cost about $17.

It had been raining in Lviv when I arrived and there were lots of puddles, and the road around the station was potholed as had been most of the road to Uzhhorod. It got better as I approached the city center, but then it started to pour. It took me a while to find shelter and I got a bit wet before I could get my poncho out. I found a nearby hostel and got a bed for the night, and from there I was able to book an apartment for the next two days. I had some trouble finding the apartment with the GPS since it was spelled three different ways between the booking web site, the city map, and the GPS, but eventually I found one that worked. I biked around town a bit before the 2:00 pm check in time. Lviv is full of parks, old churches, and other interesting building. Some are in excellent condition, but others are rather run down. Most of the streets a brick which isn’t great for biking, so I just walked around after getting the bike into the apartment. The apartment is a studio with a combination bedroom. living room, and kitchen, with a small bathroom with a shower. It is smaller than the apartment I had in Romania, but just what I need for a solo trip. I got a late lunch at a cafeteria and walked around the nearby market, which was huge, but primarily clothing, shoes, etc. There wasn’t a food area in it. Using the Google maps app on my phone I found a listing for a supermarket, but had a hard time finding it as their point was a bit off and they didn’t mention that it was in the city’s newest shopping center. It had an excellent selection and I got what a need for supper and two breakfasts. It wasn’t up to the hypermarkets like Tesco, Carrefour, Continente, and a couple of others in the EU countries, but the best so far in Ukraine.

The city is a bit hard to grasp. Some things are very modern, but then there are many people selling clothes and fruit on tables or out of boxes on the sidewalks. Much of it reminds me of Romania in the mid 1990’s. Though my apartment has good electricity and plumbing, the building it is in is very run down. Modernization is very uneven.

There was a big election on Sunday, and the anti-Russian party got a big win. They won the Presidency in the spring and won a majority in parliament in this election. They will still have their hands full getting the economy going as dealing with Russia.

I would stay here a couple of days more, but rain is coming and I can bike to Ivano-Frankivsk tomorrow and to Chernivtsy on Thursday and get there before the rain hits. It’s the only city where I spent much time on my first trip and will be a good place to spend a few more days to wait out the rain before heading for Iasi, Romania and Chisinau, Moldova.

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