On the Ukrainian side we were not so sure, what to do next, as the signs were terrible and GPS went black
. Finally we managed to leave a small border town and joined the express way - that is were we got shocked. The quality of the road coming from the south of Ukraine to the north, as far as to Lviv is magnificent. No issues whatsoever, we arrived at the former Polish city (yes, Lviv was Polish until the 2nd World War) before 6pm. The hotel was easy to find, difficult to reach however. Most of the city center streets were under renovation therefore it was really impossible to follow GPS at this point, as it was suggesting closed streets all the time (or one way only...). The accommodation itself was Hotel Dnister (http://www.dnister.lviv.ua/en/
), which is comfortably situated behind Ivan Franko park. Though the hotel facade had seen better days and the underground parking in inaccessible until further notice (wonder what lives there now...), the hotel rooms were nicely renovated and looked as if they were brand new. The staff is super friendly, speaks English and Polish (apart from Ukrainian obviously) and will gladly help you with your requests. Plus - the place is very close to the center of Lviv, as close as crossing the park.
After a short rest, we went out for a quick walk around the center and to grab something to eat, as we were dying from hunger. We stopped at Katedralna square and ate Pierogi at Mozart Cafe, which were great, however extremely expensive for Ukrainian standards (whoops!)
. Then we checked out the main square and strolled further towards the high castle. The town was full of wanna be artists - from photographers to musicians and painters (most of them, as we assumed were students) - this was all adding to the special charm of this place. As the end of the day was getting closer, we saw that there were more and more people in the center. At that point, together with Aga, we fell in love with the city and its atmosphere and ALREADY decided to come back in the nearest future. Coming back to the hotel, we observed a militia with dogs patrolling the park. They checked on some drunk guys sitting on the bench and ignored them. Something like that would never happen in Poland, since there is a strict ban for drinking in public places. We felt safe though, Ukraine is nowhere as bad as we were told before coming here. Yet another thing we did while being there, we made ourselves a goal to learn as much Cyrillic as possible. This art was mastered much faster by Aga, why I struggled the whole three days in Lviv to understand anything. But that's why we've got each other :)
Today was a big day, because we never actually came to terms with crossing the Ukrainian border. We were told dozens of little things that we should be vary of - bribes that every policeman would demand from us, fees at the border crossing (including the... ecological tax). It turned out that the Sighetu Marmatiei border had been opened only recently, therefore it was rarely used. Having said that - imagine that the customs official was not even sure how to deal with foreign tourists, as they would not think that any non-Ukrainian or non-Romanian citizens would cross it. So, we had to wait for a colleague to come and check the papers again. Still - this lasted for not more than 15 minutes, as there were only two cars waiting (for those who do not know that, Ukraine is not a part of EU, neither the Schengen Agreement, therefore car cannot just past freely through their borders.