Day 45-46 - Getting to Lviv: Relax, can't you see how eerily calm it is? - No More Taxi Drivers - CycleBlaze

March 2, 2015

Day 45-46 - Getting to Lviv: Relax, can't you see how eerily calm it is?

I biked an easy 30km to Mukacheve to set myself up for hitchhiking to Lviv the following day, Mukacheve being on the M06, which is a major road, for real this time.

My timing here is great. I can walk into almost any hotel and get a room without even asking the price and I know I'll be able to afford it. I caught that window between the collapse of the currency and the start of massive inflation. I can walk around feeling rich while everyone else is very worried about the near future. There are empty shelves at the supermarkets as people bought all the non-perishables, and I'm told the electronics stores have been totally cleaned out (which I don't quite understand--wouldn't it make more sense to buy something that doesn't depreciate rapidly, like jewelry?), but people are acting like everything is okay, is normal. Whereas in Macedonia everybody told me how bad things were, in Ukraine, nobody has said anything to me, possibly because nothing has really happened yet. People have tried to prepare by changing their money to dollars and euros and buying what goods they can, but now they are just waiting. And they are really friendly, except for grocery store clerks. At first I thought the friendliness was a Hungarian thing, but it didn't change when I got out of the Hungarian area.

I had some difficulty hitchhiking out of Mukacheve, even though it was raining so people should've felt sorry for me. Eventually a big, shiny BMW stopped and the driver made a couple phone calls. Turned out he was calling one of his employees to bring the van to take my bike to the company's shipping yard, where they were prepping a transport truck to go to Kiev, and therefore very near Lviv. Wow, I was not expecting people to go out of their way for me like this in Ukraine. After an hour or two, the truck was ready, so I put my luggage in the cab, but there was some discussion about the bike. I was about to ask what the problem was when a mechanic came over and oiled my chain. After more discussion, they took my bike away to wash it and wrap it in plastic. Then, for the first time in my life, and very carefully so as to avoid any potential embarrassment, I climbed up into the cab of a transport truck. It was a good trip; there were some breaks in the rain, the Carpathian scenery was enjoyable, and the two men in the truck acted like I wasn't there, thus sparing me hours of awkward attempts at communication in the face of a language barrier.

They dropped me off at the turnoff to Kiev and I biked into Lviv. Beautiful city centre, though I was dismayed to find it at the bottom of a huge, steep hill that I will have to climb out of as my first task after a week off the bike. No foreign tourists here, but there are Ukrainians staying at the hostel for various reasons that don't involve fun.

Yes, terrible photo, but this is exciting: even though I've been chasing winter by going north as fast as possible, spring is catching me.
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A fine example of the Ukrainian Slalom
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Well, that's a comforting sign
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The boss who arranged my trip to Lviv gave me this trinket from his office. Now I have a Turkish ladybug and a Ukrainian bike.
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Today's ride: 40 km (25 miles)
Total: 2,107 km (1,308 miles)

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