L'VIV - GATEWAY TO THE FROZEN WASTELAND
Business - I've changed the blog to display fewer entries on the front page, because the sheer number of photos is crushing the Internet connections of the weak and the swap files of the meek. There have been maybe 5 entries this week alone, so I suggest using the archives or previous posts links in the sidebar to the right to travel back in time if you missed them the first time around.
Don't ever say 'The Ukraine', you'll get Chernobyled. 'The Ukraine' is a linguistic attempt by Russia to diminish the history of Ukraine as an entity independent of Russia. Russia has always had a hard on for Ukraine, because Kyiv is considered to be the first Slavic city, and the starting point of Slavic imperial history. Thus the Russkies, believing themselves to be superior to all other Slavic variations, have attempted to control the politics and history of Ukraine. Fight Putin! Fuck articles!
PS - It's not Kiev, it's Kyiv. Kiev is Russian, Kyiv is Ukrainian. YES, IGNORANT AMERICANS, UKRAINE HAS ITS OWN LANGUAGE. IT IS UKRAINIAN, AND IT IS DIFFERENT THAN RUSSIAN. To be honest, I didn't know that until not so long ago. Oops! Ukrainian and Russian are mutually intelligible to some degree. I'm not an expert, but I'm going to say that it's something akin to Spanish and Portuguese. Interpreters are required to work between the two languages, but there's a good deal of shared vocabulary and grammar rules. Ukrainian is the primary language of the country, but in reality Russian is probably more prevalent. Ukrainian is standard in the West, Russian in the East and South, and around Kyiv they speak some sort of mash up called Surzhyk. Then the fascist linguists come and make things even more complicated by claiming that the people in the West aren't speaking correct Ukrainian, but a dialect influenced by Polish and Slovak. And essentially every Ukrainian speaker can speak Russian, but not necessarily the other way around. Which makes the Ukrainian speakers want to speak Russian even less. Don't even get me started on what constitutes a Ukrainian ethnically. Can you see why there are so many wars?
Which brings us to L'viv, the largest city in Western Ukraine. Western Ukraine is the more European part of the country, and the East is the Russian dominated area. Remember that Orange Revolution thang a few years back. Well, that was basically an East vs. West/Russians vs. Ukrainians thing. CIVIL WAR.
Anyway, L'viv (DON'T EVER SAY L'VOV THAT'S THE RUSSIAN WAY). From Bratislava it was a 22 hour train ride to L'viv. Luckily I had a whole train compartment to myself with this lovely sign to keep me company:
IT'S A THEATER, NOT A STRIP CLUB. OK?
Then it started to snow...apparently the first snowfall in Ukraine that year. Lucky me! My timing is perfect. So I get into the fucking cold mud slush covered L'viv train station (very little road plowing in Ukraine as far as I can tell, although Babushkas occasionally shovel the sidewalks) and I have no idea where to go. I don't know where I'm staying, so I try to make my way to the center. Maybe 2 hours later I make it to the center. I get on the Internet, read an email from Slava, my now L'viv host. Yay! But I have to get there.
Slava gives me directions, but I'm too fucking stupid to make sense of them. So I get colder and colder. The center is pretty empty, on account of being the first snowfall and cold as fuck. Did I mention it was cold? My backpack keeps getting heavier and my extremities get more numb. I finally locate a viable minibus, and I hop on. Easy as pie, I'm just supposed to ride the bus to the end. But this bus doesn't end, the driver decides not to stop at the end of the line and just turns around. So I hop off the bus and I'm somewhere I don't want to be. I call Slava, he says to ask where I am, I ask some punk kids. He says he is on his way, 5 minutes. I ALREADY TOLD THIS STORY. Punk kids want dollars, try to rob me, etc. etc. Babushka chases them away. Slava comes, takes me back, and cooks me food. That was amazing.
One more FYI - L'viv has no river and thus has a water shortage. In most of the city, the water is only available 6 hours a day--from 6AM to 9AM and from 9AM to 9PM. Did I care? No. I was glad to not be robbed, and to be staying with nice people who I will tell you more about soon. So, L'viv, what do you have to say for yourself?
Yeah, it's quite a pretty town. Winding cobblestone streets with full out gorgeous buildings. L'viv has changed hands quite a few times in its history. Most recently was after World War 2. Before WW2 L'viv was part of Poland (it's currently about 70 kilometers from the Polish border), and was the second largest city in Poland after Warsaw. After WW2 Poland's Eastern border was pushed back to make room for the Soviet Union, and most of L'viv's Poles were expelled and forced to resettle in Poland. Coincidentally, many of them chose to settle in Wroclaw which was part of Germany before WW2 but became Polish when Germany's border was pushed back. Most of the Germans were chased off or expelled, so there was basically an empty city waiting...once again, can you see why there are so many wars?
Anyway, being occupied by multiple countries while somehow managing not to be destroyed has given L'viv an awesomely epileptic style. It's maybe not as architecturally impressive as Prague or Budapest, but it's certainly more varied. It also has a fuckload of churches in something like 800 billion styles for 800 billion different denominations of Christianity. I can't remember then names of any of these churches, so I'm going to make them up.
Church #1 - The Only Good Turk is a Dead Turk Church
Now here's some intense socialist thang:
And the Opera House:
Town Hall. Supposedly you can get on the roof but I was too fucking stupid to figure that one out:
Church #2 - The Church of the Restored Dome
Church #3 - The Church of the Sacred Speed Trash Metal
Church #4 - Barbie's Dream Church
WOAH A SNOWBALL FIGHT:
I hope this is supposed to be Karl Marx:
Church #5 - The Church of our Holy, "Nirvana/Art Deco is OK I guess, but they were really just ripping off the Pixies/This 500 year old Church"
Church #6 - St. Phallus' Church of Our Holy Father's Gangrenous Cock-Head
This is the pharmaceutical museum. It's inside a currently functioning pharmacy.
So this is a weird one. Ass kicking dude on a horse fighting a snake on a cube.
Check out this parking lot. It's in the middle of an intersection, sort of.
Find the pothole!
Church #7 - Cablelayers' Church
Church #8 - The Imperial Church of the Star Destroyer
Church #9 - St. Bastille's Throw Down Holiday Y'all Cathedral
Here's the gate to #10:
Church #10 - Our Lady of Spitting Little Shits
Two of these punk kids were walking behind me as I was walking away after taking that photo. One of them spit on me. I turned around, and they bolted. Fuckers.
Church #11 - St. Osama's
ICE COLD! ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT NOW LADIES!
This is a building in a slightly shittier part of the center. Check out the cool facade.
Church #12 - Our Father of the Hidden ICBM
To get to the next church, I had to go through this. It was totally dark, but the flash lit it up. I call this...rapeway:
Church #13 - The Church of it's Fucking Snowing Again
There's plenty more of L'viv to come. But I'm exhausted, and I've barely made it halfway through the pictures. So I'm going to pop this up now. More to come, hopefully tomorrow. The tourist sights await! Yeah!