Jeanine and I have finally sorted out our dilema. After two overnight trains and one long day in Lviv, we are now in Budapest with plane tickets to Athens on Thursday.
From Odessa to Lviv, Jeanine and I splurged and went 1st class (spalny wagon) - well it was the only option. First class meant our own two person cabin, and not much else. It wasn't a bad ride though and we arrived in Lviv around 6am Sunday morning. It was a super clear but cold morning.
YES COLD...AS IN 6 DEGREES.....BUT IT WAS GORGEOUS...PERFECT WEATHER FOR TAKING PHOTOS, AND LATER HAVING A WARM BREAKFAST AND CAPPUCINO...I REALLY LIKED LVIV....IT'S GOT SOME VERY OLD BUILDINGS AND WAS UNTOUCHED BY WORLD WAR 2, SO THEY ARE ALL STILL INTACT....I THINK IT WAS ONE OF MY FAVOURITE CITIES IN THE UKRAINE.
Early in the morning we hiked to the top of 'castle hill' and we had a great 360 degree panoramic of Lvic and the surrounding countryside. I think a couple of the photos are from the top of that hill. During the evening in Lviv, it seemed the entire city came out to hang out on the main strip. It was quite the happening place and we were sorry to leave.
Around 8:30pm we had to catch our next night train, this time to Budapest. On this one, we were back to 2nd class (coupe) but because it was international, it was pretty nice (relatively anyways).
SO WE DID OUR USUAL TRAIN ROUTINE OF EATING AND WRITING/READING TILL DOZING OFF AROUND 10 PM. IT WAS AN UNUSUAL SLEEP THOUGH. AT 3 AM...WE ARRIVED AT THE UKRANIAN/HUNGARIAN BORDER....AT 5 AM WE WERE STILL THERE (ALISTAIR WILL EXPLAIN THIS)...AT 6 AM WE FINALLY HAD OUR FIRST VISIT FROM A HUNGARIAN OFFICIAL...AT ABOUT 6:30 AM WE WERE LEFT ALONE TO GO BACK TO SLEEP FOR ANOTHER TWO HOURS OR SO BEFORE WE GOT CLOSE TO BUDAPEST....AND FINALLY WE MADE IT AND GOT OFF THE TRAIN..OUR LAST TRAIN RIDE FOR A WHILE...
For some crazy reason or another, they use a wider gauge of railway tracks in the Ukraine (and Russia?). So, somewhere in no man's land between the Ukraine and Hungary, our train pulled into this massive railway yard. They unhooked each wagon (at least 20 and ours was the caboose) and then they pushed them into these special sections with dual gauge tracks. They had half a dozen or so of these sections and each one had a set of jacks that they used to raise each wagon so that they could change the wheels and axles! Craziest bit of mechanics/engineering I have ever seen happen at 4am. They had all these ukrainian/hungarian guys running around banging and crashing things under our train. Then they hooked us all back up and we were off to Budapest...
Budapest seems great. We're in a tiny little hostel right in downtown. We spent the afternoon in Europe's largest synagogue. Ok - enough for now. Maybe some more later.
It's a long story but we are leaving for Athens on the 23rd. We have some free internet here so now is a good time for e-mails!
Posted by Alistair Howard at September 20, 2004 10:49 AM
Posted by: Anonymous at September 21, 2004 03:03 AM
Jeanine has puffy hair!
Posted by: Sandra at September 21, 2004 08:32 AM
Lisa, I know you read this, so you can't avoid me any longer. At least acknowledge me, please!
Posted by: Sandra at September 21, 2004 08:33 AM