And another chapter…

I have been in L’viv now for 8 days, where I stayed in a hostel until recently. It was so homely and loved the cat who lived there. The last 2 nights I was the only guest and the receptionist had her friends round as it was her last couple days of working there. I sort of sat around like a lemon most of the time, listening to them speaking Ukrainian. I went to a Ukrainian meeting and met Edward and his girlfriend Natasha. They were so nice and really helped me learn some new words. Then I also met some more English speakers at a courchsurfing meeting. Andrew, Joe and Leigh – they’re  all really sweet and working here as English teachers.

The hostel I was staying at said I needed to learn a little Ukrainian and Russian to work there, so I can speak with the guests so hopefully I can learn quickly and go back there… I have emailed everyone today about jobs. Tex Mex, an American style restaurant is hiring kitchen staff so I will go tonight to speak with the chef.

Anyways, backtracking a little… I will explain how the last week has been…

Day 1- To be honest I was really annoyed I couldn’t speak with anyone. On the bus itself coming from Krakow, no one spoke English. The bus drivers were flirting with me the whole way and the passengers were just staring at me, as I keep just shrugging my shoulders and saying I speak English. Anyways, I happen to wake up, it’s 6am, and only 2 people are getting off the bus. I am looking around and thinking where am I? I don’t think I’m in Lviv yet… this doesn’t look like how I imagined it… I try to ask someone and they say this is Lviv… Right OK… So I got off the bus and it’s pouring with rain. People are coming up to me and asking questions and I couldn’t even answer or ask where to get the bus to the hostel. I attempt to ask the woman at the ticket office but she just looked at me and didn’t say anything. I walk back outside, more people coming up to me. I have no flipping idea what all these people wanted. Until one guy comes up to me, again asking something, but this time I pointed at the address on my phone and the bus number and he roughly explained the buses were on the outside of the bus station, so I must go out on the street and turn right. I found the bus and I only had 100 hryvnia note to get on the bus, so he’s asking me (I’m assuming) if I had anything smaller. I look down and see a handful of 1 and 2 hryvnia notes in his hand, and then he just shoo’s me on the bus anyways. I am standing there, slowly more and more people getting on the bus. I am just listening to everyone talking. One woman was getting off the bus, the doors open but we are still moving so people are yelling at the driver and the driver is yelling something back. It’s all seeming like complete chaos. I jump off, where I think is my stop and walk in the rain to my hostel. When I arrive, I have a quick nap and wake up to find that the only other guests are foreign and don’t speak English. I was trying to speak to one rough looking Ukrainian guy, I asked if he would like a kava/coffee and he says yes. Then as I am washing up my cup, he hands me his cup again and says something about kava and does with his hands as to say, ‘go on now.’ So I make him another cup of coffee…. At another point this day, he is calling my name катерина!! катерина!!!! So I find him in his room, collecting a bunch of old clothes, and he just shoves them into my arms and again shoo’s me off to the washing machine. The receptionist had a talk with him though and told him I am a guest, not working here….. ayyyy It’s definitely going to be a learning experience living here.

I have been a tourist a little lately, eating some traditional food and walking around the city. I found some nice parks, and went up to High Castle, to some of the churches -and also went to church with Joe on Sunday. I am now living here with Joe until I can find a place of my own so hopefully this will not take too long….

:(

Krakow –  Today I went to Auschwitz:

It’s actually 2 camps. I have so many stories and facts going through my mind, I am having trouble relaxing…..

How the Nazi’s came into Poland, changing the names of Polish cities to more German sounding names. Auschwitz 1 was an old Polish army barracks until they took it over so it’s actually brick buildings.  There is one room in particular that affected me the most. It had 2 TONS, half a room full, of human hair behind a glass case, as the Nazi’s wanted to sell the hair of those who died. I had chill bumps all over. And then other rooms of suitcases (with people’s names on them), shoes, glasses, pots and pans. It’s all quite hard to picture what happened during the Holocaust when you are walking around these empty camps, but seeing this sort of stuff, their belongings, pictures of people in the camp with the dates they arrived and when they died. Some didn’t even make it one week! Pictures of children that were used for medical experiments.

The 2nd camp was much much bigger. Most buildings were made of wood, but there were a few brick buildings as well where the Germans forced the Polish people to demolish their own city’s buildings to have these bricks for the camp. 700-1,000 people in each building, people sleeping on triple bunks. The bottom bunk would be on the floor, so when it would rain and flood, people were sleeping in the mud. They would fight to have the best spot, on the top. A lot of the buildings were destroyed right after the war so there are only a few original buildings still standing. They have pits where they would burn bodies – then either dump the ashes into the nearby river or use as fertilizer. It would have been piles of 3 metres high or more of ashes.

And yet, the stories our tour guide told us were the most shocking from the walking tour in Auschwitz and in Krakow, through the Jewish quarters. They were both really good guides and seemed to know so much about the Holocaust and history of the city. I asked about some escape stories and she told us of a group of Jewish men working in the camps one Sunday afternoon, moving trash out to the bins. The SS had gone home and they were actually free to walk on and off the camps to dispose of the trash, but this time they broke into where they kept the cars and took some officer uniforms and drove off. Although if 1 person escaped, that would mean that 10 innocent people in the camp would die. This was to stop anyone from attempting to leave. This was the case for one 17 yr old Polish boy, studying to become a doctor; Within the camps were also punishment areas, for example, where they would tie your hands together and hang you from a hook – backwards! This would cause your arms to pop out of the sockets and you couldn’t move. It’s just cringeworthy; who would even think of this!!

I saw the ghettos where families were forced to live 7-8 families to one apartment, then moved to the working camps or straight to death. They were enclosed in the ghetto surround by walls shaped like tombstones. In some people’s diary’s they wrote asking why are the walls shaped this way??

As children were killed more frequently, mothers became desperate, putting their children into suitcases. But the Nazi’s were quick to realise what was happening and would just start stabbing their cases without even opening them. I just think this is all so sad. And it makes me feel sick how can other human beings do this to each other. I just hope that history would not repeat itself. Actually, what annoys me the most is that there are some people in the world that believe the Holocaust didn’t even happen!!!!

I’ve been in a bit of a depressed, down mood today. I don’t feel like talking too much. It’s been pretty exhausting too. I was up early to go to these camps, I even ended up falling asleep on the hour long bus ride back to the centre. On a not-so-sad note, I went for another run yesterday (13.5k). It was a beautiful day and so nice to run along the river. Also, I will be meeting up with Kurt (Belarus) tomorrow so that should be good. I am a little sad to be leaving Krakow because it is such a great city, but I am also beyond happy about going to Ukraine! My nightbus is tomorrow!!!!!!!

#historylesson

Flashforward

All I did in Gdansk was drink and eat. Shot bar everynight (or that’s what I called it because it was just €1 shots), pub crawls, meeting new people. Kayaking one day with Ziggy – that was such a perfect day! And we went to have a fish dinner that evening. One day a group of us went to the beach with hangovers, eating Subway, going for a swim. It was so relaxing and nice 🙂 And when it came time for me to leave for my bus from Gdansk to Warsaw, everyone convinced me to stay – or rather refused me to leave. One receptionist had drawn out a design for a t-shirt that he told me to get in Warsaw, saying a list of things like “This is ridiculous” and “Warsaw sucks”, in Polish. Haha…. So in total I was there for 5 nights, 6 full days I think…. and they STILL didn’t want me to leave, but that would jut be ridiculous and I was getting restless again and need to keep moving. I did love it there and the people I met were just amazing and made my stay!!!

So yesterday I bought some cheap running shoes in Warsaw. My body was just dying to go for a run. Too much drinking and not any exercise is soooo bad. The hostel was a little dull but Warsaw was alrite. The first day I arrived it was so cold and rainy and I didn’t really want to do much, but it ended up being quite nice while I was there. I spent most my time with my 2 Irish room mates. Though to be honest I was glad to leave there. I just wasn’t fussed with it at all.

I’m now in Krakow, went for a run this morning! 13k 🙂 I’m already feeling much better!!

#kicked it

Gdansk!

I am now in Gdansk. I hadn’t wrote much at all in Vilnius but again, great time. I met Watervliet, Passport, Waffle and Belarus. Yes I gave everyone nicknames! Nights out until the sun comes up, walking around the city, going on a roadtrip with Belarus and getting lost but eventually finding our way to the Trakai castle we wanted to visit, which was only 20 mins away…. but it was the long scenic route anyways haha… Our hostel cooked us waffles in the morning, but they didn’t let us use the machine ourselves…. but after a night out and it was 6am, knowing that we wouldn’t be waking up in time for breakfast, Passport and I decided to sneak to the kitchen and make waffles… and seeing as he is Belgian… it was very fitting! Vilnius is actually a good city. I got my haircut there too, first time in months. No one in the salon spoke English though, but luckily my hair looked really good afterwards. The women just kept saying ‘Beautiful’ afterwards, awww bless her haha 🙂 One evening we all went out to find a bar that Waffle wanted to go to. We let him lead the way, got us COMPLETELY lost but we end up bumping into a Lithuanian guy, asking him for directions and he ends up joining us that night haha, so random but cool.

When I was leaving Vilnius, the people at the hostel told me 3 Scottish guys would also be headed to Gdansk, so I was happy to see them in the morning getting off the bus. We walked to the hostel together, had breakfast and cup of tea and then a nap. Sometimes the buses can really be exhausting because you are traveling through the night, so many stops – I kept waking up thinking I had missed my stop. Gdansk is flippin beautiful, and cheap! Had pierogies and Polish Vodka, then went out to a €1 shot bar and a couple other places. Now I must go do some touristy things!!

“I’m a plankton!!!!

I’m a basking shark!!!!”

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Kaunas

It’s actually been such a good weekend here. It’s Monday now – Daniel is at work and I’ve just been to the shop to get him a bottle of vodka as a thank you. Daniel and Rocky are just so cool. Drank lots, LOTS of good food. I was definitely spoilt!!! Daniel was cooking me so much stuff. Really nice memories, so sweet :)))) Met a lot of great people. I am really sad to be leaving actually….. I sort of feel like crying, just because it felt so homely here I think…. I’m not sure…..  Last night Daniel’s new room mate moved in, he is Lithuanian and had a bunch of food that his mom had cooked for him, so got to try lots of traditional dishes 🙂 I am now off to Vilnius, Lithuania, just a short bus trip away… 🙂

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