Trying to get drinking water: our short trip to Carpathians

About two weeks ago my mum with her friend came to visit us in Lviv. After spending few days walking around the city we got bored and decided that we want to see the mountains which supposed to be not far from Lviv and to have a picnic there. Actually I was hoping that they would be really close. I surfed in the Internet and found out that there is a national park Skolevskie Beskidy about 200 km from the city, with a waterfall, a lake and a mineral water spring, so we decided to go there as the friend was with a car.

We took with us a map, two umbrellas, some food and several 6-liters bottles. From the very beginning we got lost trying to find a Lviv ring road, so accidentally we found ourselves somewhere near the Poland. When we got to the right road it started to rain. But who cares, mountains are beautiful under the rain!

kamyanka-horses

However we saw the real mountains, and not just few hills, only at the end of our trip after 3 hours of driving. It kept raining and the streets were a total disaster, but we reached our goal: it was a small river in the mountains with a small waterfall…

kamyanka-carpathians

kamyanka-river

Surprisingly there were some people: women selling souvenirs (even there, even in such weather!), guys frying shashlyk for selling, kids with a school excursion. Kids were everywhere around and very noisy. Trying to escape from them we went to a small meadow to eat our lunch. We couldn’t have a real picnic so we ate just near the car. Then we filled our bottles with water from a spring nearby with a sign “water of vitality”.

aqua-vita

a bridge to the spring

The only attraction left was a so-called “Dead Lake”. There was also a sign pointing to the direction of the lake. The way there was very craggy, my mum and her friend suffered a lot following this way as none of us had good shoes to climb up the mountain. After all the affords to reach the lake we found a small pool. Well, we just had a bad luck that day. At least we breathed fresh mountain air, isn’t it marvelous?

way-to-dead-lake

a way to the lake

dead-lake

We had nothing else to do there and we headed back home. Though on the way we stopped off for a while at a town of Truskavets, a resort city famous for its mineral water well-rooms. My mum wanted to get there some mineral water that would make her more beautiful. After accomplishing this task we finally could go home. Of course we got lost again, this time on the central streets of Lviv.

In the evening sitting down an armchair my mum’s friend resumed our day trip: “I have never driven so far just to get some water. The only thing I want now is to relax and to drink some wine”.

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Back to Ukraine: Folk architecture museum after the rain

For the third time in my life I am back to Lviv, Ukraine. This time for living, for a period of few months and not just as a tourist. I know I said in my other post that I don’t want to come back to Lviv anymore, but I had to do so because of my husband’s internship here. Living in Lviv is completely different experience from visiting it for few days.

This time I don’t explore this city but show it to my friends and relatives who come to visit us here. But I found out that there are still places that I haven’t seen myself, and these are the parks. In one of them there is an open air museum called Shevchenkivskiy hay.

A small description from one site: “This museum’s full name is Shevchenkivs’kyi Hai, National Architecture and Rural Life Museum. It’s an open-air museum of Ukrainian village life and a living reproduction of Western Ukraine from centuries past. Here you can experience Ukrainian village just like it was back then in wooden huts, with no electricity and other modern conveniences. The museum is divided into 6 ethnographic regions of the western part of Ukraine with 124 architectural objects, including wooden village houses, churches and everyday household items preserved in their original look”.

The weather all those days is very rainy so it occurred that we went to this museum during the rain. Luckily it stopped very soon and we had a very nice walk on the fresh air! The museum’s territory is about 60 hectares and one can spend there the whole day just walking around and visiting the old houses, churches, exhibitions… But it’s Ukraine, and in Ukraine nothing is perfect. Only few ways are done so it was difficult to walk because of the mud after the rain everywhere. At least half of the exhibitions were closed (though while buying the tickets we were told that all of them are working) as a lot of workers skip their work because it is weekend and no one controls them. In addition, it was quite difficult to orientate in this park: almost no maps, lack of signs showing the directions, no descriptions or explanations…

Despite this we all enjoyed a lot our walk in Shevchenkivskiy Hay, it is definitely worth to visit when you’re in Lviv!

 shevchenkivskiy hay 1

shevchenkivskiy hay 2

shevchenkivskiy hay 3

shevchenkivskiy hay 4

shevchenkivskiy hay 5

shevchenkivskiy hay 6

The “real” Germany and “I’ll be back”

Traveling to Ukraine, hardly learning German, getting certificate B1, visiting family, going to a campleader’s seminar and just being lazy – that’s how I was spending my time all those months I haven’t written anything in my blog. But I never forgot about it.

Right now I only want to share one impression from the place the mentioned above seminar took place at: a small town Niederkaufungen in the near of Kassel. Before coming to Germany I had a certain image of this country. But I’m living here already for many months and I have seen nothing of what I expected. And only this Niederkaufungen absolutely corresponds to my image from the past. At least somewhere Germany looks like my Germany!

niederkaufungen3 niederkaufungen1 niederkaufungen2

Tomorrow I’m leaving again, to the Balkans, so no more blog posts for at least two-three weeks. But I will come back, I promise! And with a lot of new topics to write about :)

 

Couchsurfing in Rome. Part one.

Usually during our trips we search for couchsurfers to stay with. It’s much nicer (even not to mention cheaper) than to stay at any hostel.  As we had 5 days in Rome, of course we needed a place to stay so I started to look for the CSers two weeks before the departure.

 God knows how much time I spend on the site reading profiles and sending requests. I’ve never surfed in such a big touristic city so I couldn’t imagine that it will be so hard! Among 4380 Roman CSers 719 offer a place for 2 people. I’m not a kind of person that sends requests just to anyone so this time I read more than 100 profiles: first few per day very carefully, then you get tired and read only the most important things like self-description and accommodation details. Almost half of the CSers don’t host couples so I even didn’t try to write them.

Another interesting particularity of CS in Rome is that almost all the members are men. I saw only 3 or 4 female profiles. I guess single girls find a place in Italy easily (though I would not risk staying alone at some Italian man’s home). In Ukraine, for example, the situation is completely different if not to say opposite – women dominate there.

Few days before our departure I still haven’t got any positive answer. So I started to write to the CSers from the small towns in Lazio region not far away from Rome and posted a message in a special “Last minute Couchrequest” group. It really seemed to be impossible to find a host in Rome! I was almost desperate.

Luckily just two days before we left two CSers accepted to host us. It was certainly a good day :) We didn’t need to sleep under a bridge or spend money that we didn’t have for a hostel.

Now about our hosts.

First one was just great though a bit odd – a British man, photographer, teacher, translator and vegan. Judging from his profile on CS he should have been very strict and perhaps rude guy, but in reality he was extremely kind to us. And we had a lot to talk about. Especially my husband had. Every morning it was difficult for me to interrupt politely their conversation and to convince him to go to the city. In the evenings we were drinking together in Mike’s living room and eating vegetarian or vegan food. I even ate things like cauliflower which I usually don’t eat. But with a lot of curry it was pretty good :) I think I would be the worst vegetarian ever as I don’t like most of the vegetables, so I even don’t try to become one.

Anyway, our first days in Rome were really great, and ‘m glad we had such a host. He even proposed us to stay longer as we got along well, but we had another host that accepted us so we went to Latina to meet him.

Berlin: Festival of Lights 2012

The Festival of Lights is carrying out in Berlin these days. On Monday we decided to go to Berlin to Ukrainian embassy, to a discussion about Southern Sudan and for shopping and accidentally got to know about the fest. We didn’t have much time in the evening so we visited only one site that was illuminated: Gendarmenmarkt.

Later I saw the photos of other sites and they are really impressive! I don’t think I will have possibility to be in Berlin this week again (the festival ends on 21st of October), but I would love to see the illuminated city in real. Maybe next year :)

A little bit of Russia in Germany: Potsdam and Alexandrovka

I found a city in Germany where I feel myself almost at home. About two weeks ago we have visited Potsdam. As it is the capital of the Brandenburg State, we had to go there for some documents in State Ministry of inner affairs.  Everything started in this Ministry. There were signs in Russian and they offered the handbooks about integration in German and Russian.

On the streets of Potsdam we met many times Russian speaking people that were the inhabitants of the city (naturally there were a lot of Russian tourists too). Some signs there were also in my language.

So we were not very surprised to discover a Russian village: Russische Kolonie Alexandrowka. The village is situated in the north of Potsdam and includes several Russian style houses, huge fruits garden and an orthodox church. The village has been built in 1826 by order of the Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm III and named after the Russian emperor Alexander I. Till 1945 the families of Russian soldiers and their ancestors lived there. Now the Russian colony Alexandrovka is an architectural memorial site included in the UNESCO World Heritage.

So Russians were in Potsdam long time ago and no wonder that they still keep coming :) I would also like to stay living in this city full of history and beautiful sites.

The III International Poetry Festival MERIDIAN CZERNOWITZ, September 6-9, 2012

 

This year the festival in Chernovtsy will take place from 6th till 9th of September. The final program of the festival has been published just recently. I found there a lot of new and fascinating events.  It is dedicated to the modern Ukrainian and European poetry (of course! it’s the poetry festival) and includes poetry readings, lecture, musical and theatrical performances, screenings of the poetry films, poetry in animation, electropoetry and so on.  Last year I was positively surprised by the concert combining poetry and rock-music. This time there will be something similar, I guess.

The participants changed a little bit. No French poetry this year :( But there will be a lot of events performed by representatives of Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Romania and Israel.

One of the guests is Oksana Zabuzhko. I have never read her and heard about her just recently from my husband. It turned out that she is the most famous (and maybe only one) Ukrainian writer beyond Ukraine and her works are translated to other languages.

IMHO the highlight of the MERIDIAN CZERNOWITZ 2012 will be the day trips and the poetical events in Khotyn and Kamenets-Podolskiy – the towns with the beautiful impressive fortresses. I still dream to visit these towns one day.

Last year I enjoyed Chernovtsy and the festival and I hope that this year it doesn’t become worse.