Still in Lviv, leaving for Kiev tomorrow

Kosmonaut Hostel Lviv I really like Lviv a lot. Maybe because of the great sights, but the hostel definitely helps as well. You know, most hostels tend to be friendly places but The Kosmonaut is an exceptionally good hostel.
Ed and the rest of the staff have been so helpful, from aranging trips to helping with the booking of tickets (which is very much needed since none of the ticket offices have personnel that speaks any foreign language)
They even include free breakfast, free laundry and free WiFI/Internet computer. Which, for the price, is just amazing.
It might help that Lviv is still pretty far from the beaten track, attracting an especially friendly crowd of guests.
Anyway: If your somewhere near Lviv, do visit the Kosmonaut hostel. In fact, even if you’re not, try to visit sometime!
Alas, all good things must come to an end and there is so much more I want to see.
For now, my plan is to first visit Kiev for a few days, then overnight train to Odesa, and take the ferry from there to Istanbul. After that, probably back to Bucharest but I’ll see about that later.

As I write this, my photos are uploading to the webserver and I’ll add them to the gallery sometime tomorrow.

Today I spent some time at the University (Franko), an imposing building but interesting to see. A choir was rehearsing in the large auditorium providing a soundtrack.
My second undertaking was to visit the Lviv Art Gallery, very interesting to see some eastern European painters and sculpturers.

My photos from Lviv are available here (any moment now!)

Exploring Lviv

The first day here was pretty much just sleeping and relaxing, listening to my iPod (lectures on Nietzsche, a good way to fall asleep).
I met the other people staying here in the Kosmonaut hostel, Francios, a very nice french guy who is walking acros the mountainranges in eastern europe, Nick and Simon, two australians who have seen considerably more of the world then I thought possible, and Jonathan, from England.
We had dinner together, (Lebanese)and after that we tried one of the clubs here in Lviv. It was an Interesting experience, people dance really weirdly here. Very over the top, "One limb at a 90 degree angle at any time"-style dancing.

Yesterday I finally got around to seeing some of Lviv and it truly is one of the most beautiful cities, but quite an unpolished gem. Give it a few years and this might wel turn out to become the new Prague.

Today I want to explore some of the museums and the markets, after which I hope to warm up again while uploading the photos 😉

Vilnius – Krakow – Lviv

<p>I decided that travelling to Lviv via Krakow would be fun as well, even though I had already been there. So I got on the bus at 5 pm, had a few near death experiences on the two lane roads connecting Vilnius and northern Poland (Imagine a convoy of 100’s of trucks on your lane. Every 1 km a truck comes from the other side. Is this a reason for the bus driver not to overtake? guess again… ) <br />
Crossing the border is interesting as well when some of the Russians on board are too drunk to find their passports. <br />
Anyway, at 6 in the morning I arrived in Krakow, just in time to see the sun rising over this beautiful city, covered in snow and with a thick mist slowly rising. <br />
<a href="">The photos from krakow.</a><br />
It was definitely a good experience to be there again. But only for a few hours, since the train to Lviv was leaving at 2 pm. <img vspace="10" hspace="10" align="left" alt="" src="…C_5532.JPG" /><br />
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Traveling by train is totally different here. Think bureaucratic sowjet relic and you’re quite close to how the system works. There are for instance seperate offices for travel information, where you can find out when and where the train leaves, and for buying the actual ticket. <img vspace="10" hspace="10" align="right" alt="" src="…C_5524.JPG" /><br />
Once you are on the train, guess how long a journey of 300 km takes? About 10 hours. That’s just pathetic. <br />
You have to change trains at the border since the rail has a different width in the Ukraine. This means I had to spend two hours in the rather spooky station in Przemysl. After that there was some problem with the Ukrainian train, which meant that by then I was running over an hour late. Which in turn meant that I arrived in Lviv at 2 am. Believe me, Lviv is quite a scary place to arrive in the middle of the night. Lada’s with blinded windows pulling up next to you…. <br />
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An extra challenge here in Lviv is the Cyrillic alphabet.&nbsp; I had the street name and name of the hostel, but in latin. That means that no taxi driver can understand it. Eventually, after some adventures, I managed to find a taxi driver who understood where I wanted to go based on the map in my lonely planet guide.&nbsp; He dropped me of somewhere near the hostel, and it took me about 40 minutes and a short ride by a security officer to eventually find the hostel. Turns out that the description of streetnames in latin is not really helpful when the signs are in cyrillic. <br />
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I have never been so happy to arrive in a hostel before…. (<a href="">website of Kosmonaut Hostel Lviv</a>)<br />
<a href="…,48.164063">Lviv op de wereld kaart</a><br />
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<a href="">De eerste fotos uit Lviv staan hier, </a>maar meer is onderweg…</p>


I managed to get a ticket to Vilnius for next to nothing. With Baltic Air. On a Fokker 50 propeller driven, duct tape enhanced peace of nostalgia.
No worries though. There where only 10 passengers on the flight so it must have been light work for the machine.
On the airport I had some very friendly assistance from a local who was also taking the bus to the old town, he even paid my bus ticket. Nice!
From the bus stop i had a pleasant walk through most of the old town part of Vilnius which looked nice enough. The hostel was located on a small alley just off one of the main streets, tricky to find but a very cozy hostel.

I was feeling brave that night so I decided to go ahead and try the local special dish, "Zeppelins".  As all Lithuanian food, the main contents are potato and meat. Zeppelins are like small meatballs, covered in a 2 cm thick layer of potato dough, liberally sprinkled with cream and other artery clogging stuff.  I can’t say it is the most refined meal but it certainly helps you regain your strength.

Monday I spent most of the day running around old town Vilnius, which really is beautiful. Aside from the churches, which are nice, there are the most amazing views to be found when you just wander around.
Feeling rather chilly after this, I decided to visit a museum. Something warm and cozy …. well, maybe not. The local KGB museum is quite impressive, so I went there. It certainly was impressive, documenting the Russian oppression on the first floor and in the cellar, the original KGB prison could be viewed. People tend to think of the Germans as nasty to oppressed peoples, but the russians were quite capable as well.

Back in the hostel I happend to meet two dutch girls and a guy, Carla, Jacqueline and Merijn if I remember correctly. We had a little dutch night out in a pub, broadeway, just around the corner from the hostel.  The pub featured a number of live perfomances by local musicians. Some were very good, others weren’t

Then came the time to leave.. unfortunately there where no direct busses to Lviv.
 Which explains how I ended up in Krakow, which I’ll post about later.

The photos I made in Vilnius are here, including some bonus comments


Harbour in HelsinkiSunday I made a short trip to Finland, Helsinki. It was quite the experience. The first three hours I spend in a corner of the bar onboard the ferry, wondering how these people manage to drink beer before breakfast.
I am not the kind of guy who absolutely needs sunshine to enjoy a place but Helsinki was positively dreary that day, even to my taste. I think the photo’s will reflect that.
I did enjoy the sculptures that are all over the center. I can see that the place must be kind of charming when you’re really into shopping or something.

So here are the pictures, and I’m off, back to Talinn!

Korte update uit Talinn

Sorry to my english speaking friends, I just typed this message in dutch and now realise I promised you to swtich to english.
The very short version in english: i´m doing fine 😉 the next update will be translated for you!

Inmiddels zit ik alweer twee dagen in Talinn. Vergeleken met Riga is het hier eigenlijk weer wat meer west europees, maar de prijzen zijn nog erg vriendelijk. Je kan hier voor 5 euro prima een hap buiten de deur eten met een pint lokaal bier erbij…
Ik heb vandaag een Zorki C camera gekocht, een russchische kloon van de Leica 2 rangefinder cameras. Is weer eens wat anders dan een digitale camera. Maar wel een mooi stukje sowjet techniek uit de jaren 50, gebouwd als een tank.
Was ook wel een avontuur om te kopen, samen met een australische jongen uit het hostel op de russische tweedehandsmarkt.
Ik heb weer een boel fotos maar de internet verbinding is hier zo traag dat die nog even op zich laten wachten.
Binnenkort dus meer en dan hopelijk met fotos!

Riga – buiten de gebaande paden

Vandaag ben ik buiten het toerischtische gedeelte gaan kijken, onder andere naar het spoorweg museum, naar het industriele oude havengebied, naar de prachtige oude wijken met klassieke gebouwen en van daar weer door het oude centrum terug.
Erg mooi allemaal, de contrasten die je hier vind zijn te gek om te fotograferen.

Morgen ga ik verder naar Talinn, als alles goed gaat…



Oud en nieuw

Bericht uit Riga

Ik ben inmiddels rustig Riga aan het verkennen. Ik heb een aantal foto’s, met commentaren, online gezet in de gallery:

Kort gezegd: het is een hele ontdekkingsreis, maar zeker leuk. Probeer maar eens ingredienten voor pasta te vinden in de supermarkt hier…

Ik ben ook blij met mijn thermo ondergoed inmiddels, bij temperaturen onder nul de hele dag buiten fotograferen is tamelijk fris!

Bericht uit Berlijn

Een eerste berichtje uit het Oosten: ik zit nu met Renee in berlijn en check even snel hoe het staat met mijn bulaanvraag. Het lijkt allemaal goed te gaan, gelukkig.

Ondertussen zit ik met Renée super luxe in een suite van 80 m net onder de Zoo, een prima plekje echt. We hebben zelfs TV in de zitkamer en in de slaapkamer. Het ligbad is fijn, de keuken heeft een wasmachine … we willen bijna niet meer naar buiten.

Dat hebben we gelukkig wel gedaan, en dat bevalt ook prima. Mooie stad, mooie musea, rijke historie en het weer zit zelfs behoorlijk mee!

In de Zoo

Verplicht nummertje

De originele muur, incl. de achterliggende lege strook… (Bernauer strase)

Op aanraden van Lisa bij kunstenaarskolonie in Tacheles, erg cool en een beetje eng ook wel. Te gekke kunst, aanradertje voor Marek …

Mijn tijd is op, ik meld me snel weer met meer!