the delightful Miss K

the delightful Miss K

Sunday, August 29, 2010

We Love Lviv

No, this is not the entrance to Guantanamo bay or Auschwitz, this is the border crossing into Ukraine!

We made it, a border beer was bought to celebrate...
Borat country

We made it, helllllllllllllo Lviv, or Hbib as we fondly called it due to our interpretations of the Cyrillic alphabet
Typical Ukrainian taxi decor
The first of many fabulous Ukrainian appreciation moments. This is one of my faves, I had to stalk him forever to get a shot that defined the back fat in just the right light! The stair case up to our hostel, very Gaudi I thought
Typical Ukrainian bar Ukrainian fashion appreciation moment #2
The oh-so-analogue tram ticket system. Love it!!

....on our way to this gorgeous, lush cemetery....
This is how the locals adorn their graves for the first year after burial, it hides the settling of the dirt. A typical corner store, note the readily available beer and voddy in the window.

This was the first night we spent in Lviv. We went to this bar that was an old bunker full of pro-independent Ukraine and made me feel incredibly patriotic and proud. We spent the night partying with a bunch of Polish boys who showed us how the Eastern Europeans really drink!!!

Pretty Lviv
The world's largest fairy floss!
And this was what we called black market fruit. basically these women turn up at the market's edge, sell fruit from god knows where for 10 minutes before the cops come and they disappear, but not before we got our fill!
Jan's favourite cafe

The City from the top of a hill
Our night at the opera, we got a box seat and everything, pity none of us could keep awake...

bus dreaming....
Ok, this was the exciting bit when, armed with a smudgy photocopy of an old envelope addressed to my Grandfather as my clue and a local 'kid' called Eugene as translator my three mates and I went out to the county to find some of my relatives.. and we succeeded. This was us on the public bus..
Ukrainian poverty.... extreamily prevelent I'm afraid...
We had a slight glitch at the first house which my relos had moved out of and were renting it instead. This info was all given to us by this lovely neighbour, without a word of English. He took a shining to Bark's beard and insisted on a photo with the two of them together. It seems that beard was to be very well respeced in the Eastern Bloc
Success!! And after an amazing day meeting people I was rapidly embracing as my family, we were dropped back at Lviv station to embark on our second Ukrainian city experience: Kiev. Lviv turned out to be one of my top 6 cities of the trip, I was sad to leave it....

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy Krakow

2 hours sleep, one really hot day, two ladies, two heavy back packs, 1 long walk with heads down and determination on our minds, 1 bus back to Prague, 1 train to somewhere.... 1 very slow train to Krakow, 1 tram and 1 more walk and we made it..... just in time to shower, get the drill around our couch-surfing host's apartment and then back onto the town; rest is for the wicked, or so it seems in Krakow.
Stefan, our Polish host can only be described as.... unique. With loud techno blaring through the corridors of his building, stuff everywhere, 2 computers with at least 5 conversations running at the same time to prospective couch surfers, a mad little puppy called Tequila, a cage full of rats and a membership on his profile page to an S&M site just to keep boring surfers away!
Part-Sri Lankan part-German, living in Krakow and hosting up to 5 'surfers' a night at all times, he lives his life on the wild side and promptly dragged us deep down into it as soon as we arrived. The night I spent on the town with him I achieved the most inebriated state on the entire trip, even resulting in a drunken injury and a large chunk of it completely forgotten. What I do remember of Krakow that night though, I don't think I'll ever forget. Groovy bars deep in the ground, clubs with 5 separate rooms pumping various versions of Euro-trash, organic lemon vodka shots (yuuuuuuuuuuuuuummy) and cobblestones that became more and more difficult to scale as the night became day. Winks and I sat down on one of our last days of our trip to a plate of bangers and mash in Edinburgh and conducted a survey of the most hedonistic cities we'd ventured to. Sleep, Diet, Exercise and Alcohol consumption were the criteria, and I'm proud to say, the undeniable winner was Krakow with its edgy clubs, groovy people and fabulous but stodgy food. As for exercise... whats exercise??!!
Anyway, despite the rich experience, a distinctive lack of photos resulted, perhaps I was too distracted to remember to snap, and so I leave you with only a few glimpses of the amazing place that Krakow is...

Old Town is a bustling tourist hub, swarming in foreigners, hawkers, pick pockets and golf carts; the only vehicle allowed. Here they are all lined up in a pretty row. I stopped counting the amount of times a tour was pushed my way as I walked past these mini cars, but it was worth it for the photo:
I couldn't resist stalking these two until I got a shot clear enough to share the hilarity with you all: Note the writing on the back of their hoodies...
(Hers says: That's my boyfriend, his says: That's my girlfriend!!!)

And that's it for the sight and sounds... bit lame I'm sorry. This is our final night in town, back at one of our favourite bars called Moments. The K comes out!!

How's the decor??!!

Stefan and I rabbiting on as we were prone to do...

Me looking edgy and Polish I hope..

Stefan himself as we left his world and embarked on our next... The Eastern Block.

...and that's it for the EU for a while. So its goodbye to anybody speaking English, goodbye to the Latin Alphabet and goodbye to the world that we had ever comprehended and Dobre Dan.... Ukraine!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Czech dreaming

There's this fantastic website called and we used it to find ourselves a lift to Prague with a Dutch hiker intent on getting us all to Prague in under 3 hours, and thanks to Germany's autobahns, it was completely possible, no over-night bus for us this time thanks!
I found Prague or Praha to the locals as beautiful as I'd been told, as tacky as my Czechs relatives and old as the hills. Even 'new town's' from the 1700's or something.
Winks, who'd been living in the city for the past 8 months, felt the best way for us to start our Czechs section of our trip, was with this horrific example of carnivorous activity. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce... the Port Knuckle, along with its mates Big, big beer and slivovitz, the home-made paint-stripper they call liquor.

...the remaining carcass. How primitive of us.

It was in Prague that I found my 3 favourite pieces of graffiti on my entire trip, and they were all right next to each other on a otherwise blank wall. Language Warning... some people may find one of these offensive but I still thinks its brilliant enough to take that risk!
1: The Dude!

2: Envy

3: ...and for the rude one, but I really do love it!

Trying to imitate angry Czech beer drinkers

Right, here's a view of the city from the top of Prague Castle hill. very terracotta eh.

And here's a view from the top of another hill at a different time of the day!

Spent a bit of time at the Communist Museum and concluded: Starlin was a ... well I shouldn't' use that word in public, but insert dirtiest word you can think of here.
These posters were old Communist paraphernalia expressing the glorious merits of the regime. Ha!

And it was at the Museum, that I read about the peaceful-turned-violent student protests that took place throughout Soviet occupation. One was particularly tragic when a 20 year-old student Jan Palach lit himself on fire at the top of the Opera house steps (where all the major public events took place) and collapsed on the pavement, before dying 3 painful days later. He wrote a note before committing the deed begging for the end to Communism. He also asked that no other young people do what he was about to. Sadly, another young man lit himself alight a week later. I was so moved by the story, that I felt compelled to go and find the monument to him in the pavement where he fell...

An arcade sky-light

The perfect Czech sausage experience

St Ludmila: My Mum's name!

After a few days in town, we decided it was time to head someone where a bit quieter, friendlier and perhaps near a good body of water as the heat was really starting to get to us. This is pensive Winks as the train takes us away from the city she called home for 8 glorious months.

Chesty Kromlov
....or 'Chesty Bonds' as it became fondly known as.

Gorgeous town, fabulous river, ye old vibe and a really great night that marked our 2nd all-nighter for the trip, this time instead of being locked out, we partook in a lock-in with a bar owner and his head chef. Open bar anyone? Anyway, no photos of that fortunately, but here's some pretty ones of the Castle grounds:

This theatre seating revolves 180 degrese. That means, when they're showing Romeo and Juliette, they can face the royal setting to the left, when they're showing Midsummer Night's Dream, they can face the lush gardens to the right. I was impressed!

Some arches on the sweaty walk up to the castle. Note the smidgen of more modern architecture on the top of the arches. Every time a new King took over the castle, he would add something on, resulting in a series of buildings covering architecture spanning many eras and if I knew my architecture, I'd be able to quote actual styles here.... just imagine that I did ok.

Here's a view from the top of the castle hill:

Whilst exploring the grounds, we stumbled upon what turned out to be the most interesting, innovative gallery space I think I've ever seen. Great use for an old dungeon I say, and it was cool too, which was a bonus in the unrelenting heat of our European summer

2 hours sleep, 5 million degrees and 7 modes of transport to get to our next destination.... Krakow, Poland. Buckle up!