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Archive for July, 2009

Today, I am flying home to the States for three weeks.  I haven’t been in the States for 12 months.  I am looking forward to seeing my friends and family but I am not so excited about the 20+ hours of traveling.  Some how, this travel seems more like work while the travel I’ve been doing this last month in Eastern Europe is different because it was much more about pleasure.  This is not to say that I think the trip home to the States will be un-pleasurable.

In fact, I think it will be anything but that.  I just think that it’s the American in me saying: oh, that’s going to take so long and there are so many things that can go wrong.  On the other hand, when I was traveling by myself and didn’t know where I was going it was an adventure. Funny how that works.

Anyhow you can expect a couple of posts a week from me while I am gone but don’t expect more than that (I’ve got a lot of Walla Walla Sweet Onions to eat and local wine to drink)! I’ll be back in Sofia on August 24th and then I’ll get back into a regular writing and posting schedule.

Oh and good-bye to my first apartment! I’ll miss you.

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Um, really?

Hey, Billa: I still know what’s under the graffiti you covered up.

Um really? This is the best you can do?

Um really? This is the best you can do?

I have a hunch that yellow paint would have been slightly more effective.  Thanks for covering this up but in some ways you’ve just made it that much more obvious what the previous graffiti was. And that seems counter intuitive to me.

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Tomorrow is moving day! I am moving to my new apartment in Mladost tomorrow.  Yeah! I hate moving but this will be the easiest move ever.  I have one box and six bags.  Easy-peasy.  I hope. Oh and my new building has an elevator.

I took some pictures on Friday when I saw the apartment for the first time.  It’s a one bedroom with a large kitchen/living room/dining room. I didn’t know what to expect but on the surface this place seems great.

Okay, it’s not my quirky little apartment in the city center.  There’s no forest mural, no chipped mismatched china and no coffee machine in the kitchen but change is good.  My new place is the kind of apartment that you can make your own with a new set of sheets, some photos and place mats. I am looking forward to that.

Kitchen!

Kitchen!

As you can see from the above photo I can bake in the oven AND do laundry at the same time.  It’s going to be so efficient. (more…)

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Lviv, by foot

I made it to Lviv in the Ukraine. I wasn’t sure how easy it was going be so I’ve been nervous about it for the last couple of days. I was traveling from Krakow but there’s not an exactly “direct” train. It’s about a  9 hour ride.

So when the hostel I am staying at had  line on their page saying something like: email us to learn how you can get to Lviv from Krakow in 6 hours and for 15 Euro I enquired.

Here’s what they sent me:

From Krakow to Lviv for 15 Euro:

1. From Krakow you have to go to Przemysl. The train goes every hour and the ticket costs 43 Zloty (12 Euro). It will take 4 hours.

2. Just next to the train station in Przemysl there is a bus station. Take little bus to the point on Polish-Ukrainian Border (it goes very frequently). The village is called Medyka. 25 minutes and 2 Zloty (0,5 Euro).

3. Then you simply cross the border on foot through the pedestrian corridor (it will take approximately 30-40 minutes).

4. When you cross the border you will be on Ukrainian side of it in the village of Shegyni. The bus Shegyni-Lviv (Шегині-Львів) takes you directly to the Main Train Station in Lviv. The duration of the trip is 1,5 Hour and the price of the tickets is 2,5 Euro.

Needless to say the cross the border by foot part kind of freaked me out.  But I am here for an adventure so I decided the worst that would happen would be that I couldn’t cross the border and I’d go back to Krakow.  Also, I didn’t tell my mom how I was getting between the two places.  (Sorry MoM.)

Anyhow, I am here.  I made it without incident and I couldn’t be happier with my choice to come and check out the city.  So now I am off to explore this little piece of Lviv–that is now a part of the Ukraine after being a part of Poland.  I am excited because the city mostly escaped bombing during WWII which means that the old town should be really interesting see!

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Krakow

I’ve been in Krakow now for two days (and I am spending a third before heading off for Lviv in the Ukraine tomorrow).  There is so much great stuff to do and to see in the city.  It’s kind of overwhelming.  Ha. After four rather slow-vacationy days in Olomost and in Wroclaw, it’s hard to get back in full tourist mode.  But I think that I ‘ve been managing to do a pretty good job of it.

I arrived to find my hostel not exactly what I expected (Greg and Tom’s Krakow). I knew that it had just opened and their description on hostelworld.com said something like: we’re still working on the finishing touches. And the reviews on the site were good.

It turns out the hostel I am staying in is still under pretty major reconstruction and they didn’t make it that clear how much they were still doing on the hostel in their ad on line. The location is great but the bags of concrete or maybe bags of plaster and the sheet rock in the hallway is pretty bad. Oh and the construction starts at or before 8am (even today–a Saturday).  Some of this is stuff that I could over look if they were up front about it but really? You’re making me pay for this!? More or less it feels like one of my parents home remodeling projects where they decide: we’ll do this one little project but then they decide while we’re doing X we should also do Y and Y results in doing Z as well and all of a sudden the whole house is a mess and there’s dust every where, cans of paint on the floor and a little path to walk through to get through the house. (more…)

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Wroclaw

Wroclaw is hot and muggy today but that did not keep me from exploring the city.  Sure it would be nice if it was not so hot but I think that makes it okay to eat ice cream so I cannot complain too much.

The city has lots of churches which I have been in and out of and like but 70 percent of the city was destroyed during WWII.  As such, most of the churches have been rebuilt.  So from the outside they look amazing and from the inside they are just ho-hum.  Still they are interesting to see and the city is lovely to walk around so I have been happy with this jaunt to Wroclaw.

Also, the city isnt very touristy so it makes you feel like you are seeing something rather unexplored.  This is not to say that there are not tourists here because there are.  They are just German.  And it seems to me that they are everywhere.

Yesterday when I was trying to take the tram to my hostel I could not get the ticket machine to work and I asked the only young girl at the stop who was with her grandmother if she spoke English.  The girl said, no not really and I pointed at the ticket machine.  The grandmother looked at me grabbed my hand and started speaking to me in pretty decent German.  Sure enough the machine would not work for her either so I–gasp, rode the tram without a ticket.  This is for the record something I HATE doing but I did it anyway.  I did not see any other option.

But the greatest thing in my book is that in most of the cafes you hear the waitress ask, English or German… the implication being that she can speak both.  It of course reminds me how stupid we are not to teach children foreign languages in the States at an earlier age.

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Olomouc

I am currently in Olomouc which is the fifth largest city in the Czech Republic. I have been here for a day and I love it. The city is beautiful and the streets are un-crowded.  Oh and it doesn’t hurt that I have only been able to identify a few other tourists while on my adventures around town.

This is pretty amazing to me considering the fact that there are so many tourists crawling the streets in Prague and Olomouc is only a 3 hour train ride away.  I have been staying in one of the best hostels of my trip–the Poets Corner Hostel.  It was recommend by Lonely Planet–thanks.

Olomouc is a university town but right now there are not any students around so it is the best of both worlds. There are coffee shops and bars but not too many students or people for that matter.  I am very happy that I decided to make the city part of my tour. 

Oh and I went to this great local bar last night called Moritz they are a local microbrewery.  For about 5 dollars I had two large beers–half liter–and a bowl of garlic soup–um, wow, that was serious soup no vampires are coming close to me for the next week or so.  I guess that is a good thing as northern Romania is on my to do list and that is the home of Dracula.

Today I went on an excellent walking tour with that the hostel runs.  Igot to see tons of the city and to learn a lot more about the history of the region and to hear some local myths-stories about buildings, names and the like.  It was the kind of tour that makes a city feel much more familiar and I was glad for that.

Tomorrow I am taking the train to Wroclaw in Poland.  Wish me luck.  Oh and in case you cant tell, I am having a great time. Even if these key boards around Eastern Europe are kind of tricky with lots of extra and different keys…

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