Monday, September 15, 2008

Viewing L'vov Ukraine from Under an Umbrella

Greetings from L'viv. Today I took the 3-hour train from Ivano-Frankovsk north to L'viv here in northwestern Ukraine. And tomorrow, the good Lord willing, I plan to catch the train from L'vov to Rostov-on-Don, a 29-hour trip. Attached should be several fascinating images - should be, I know, but not attached. But that's quite another story. . .

Last Tuesday on the train from Kiev through L'viv to Ivano-Frankovsk, I shared a koopay - that's a 4-person-compartment - with a lady from L'viv. We had a delightful visit and as we were approaching L'viv, she gave me contact information and invited me to come visit sometime.

You're serious?

Da, absolutno!

No need to ask me twice. You know us missionary-types! So guess where I'm spending the night! With my best friend in L'viv, that would be with Larisa and her husband. We hiked around town this evening in the drizzle. They're great tour guides, love to practice their English and enjoy getting to visit with other gypsy-types.

Here's what's almost funny: none of us can find the flash-drive-plug-in-deal on this computer. Larisa is a psychologist and teaches at a local university. Her husband is in business - he's accustomed to solving problems. I have a rather assorted background - different from a sordid background let's make that clear - and none of us knows the answer to this one. Nor are we particularly motivated to solve it. So. . . just imagine photos, okay?

Anyhew, this L'vov is quite the city: part of the former USSR, before that part of Poland, before that part of the Austrian-Hungarian empire. First identified as L'viv in 1256. But apparently fortresses and such go back to 200 A.D. Quite varied culturally, as you might imagine. This evening Larisa and I stopped into a Catholic church for evening mass. That's the Polish influence - versus the Russian influence - and the service was in Polish. Although Ukrainian is the official language here and it's spoken, preferred even, in this neck of the woods. Different from eastern Ukraine where there's more Russian influence and thus Russian is spoken there.

Last week in Ivano-Frankovsk was simply great. Attached would be-could be-should be neat photos of that place. In the foothills of the Carpathian Mts. A young, growing city of 300,000 whereas L'viv is 1 million.

Have had UKRAINE on the brain this past week, doing some digging for information. Here are some neat tidbids: Ukraine is twice the size of Poland. Ukraine is larger than the state of California and almost exactly the size of Texas. Ukraine's population is twice that of Texas'. This baffles me: There are only a handful of big cities: Kiev has 3 million, several cities of 1-million and that's it. But where the numbers swell, it would seem, is in the villages: 35% of Ukrainians live in rural areas or small towns.

Lots of national pride here. Quite the complex and diverse nation. And some wonderful people! Well, until we meet again, greetings from L'vov. Find that on your map! Oh - guess what - it is on the map from yesterday's post. Look carefully and you'll see it there in the northwest. Over and out!

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