Easy day in Uzhhorod

Trip Start Apr 24, 2007
Trip End Jul 09, 2007

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Fri 18 May
Mainly just another travel day today. The bus left Lviv at 2 but I wanted to be there with plenty of time since a few people had been trying the train for a couple days and having some frustration. Personally I think the people at the train station are having a laugh seeing how many times they can tell a tourist "no today" before they go crazy. Still just to be safe I packed up and headed out early so that if the bus I was booked on didn't go, I might be able to catch an earlier one, a later one, or the train.
Luckily my bus was pretty well on time and I was one of the even luckier ones who got a seat and didn`t have to stand in the aisle or sit on the luggage at the back. The bus itself was almost comical, it was pretty run down and had some seats taken out of the back to make more room for people, luggage and parcels. I felt pretty bad for most of the ones standing... it was about a 5 hour bus ride to Uzhhorod. The scenery was amazing as we got closer. It turned from flat fields to beautiful rolling hills and mini mountains covered in all different types of shrubs and trees. The backdrop for every little village and church was dozens of shades of green. Definitely one of the most scenic rides in a while.
Another girl from the hostel had come with me since she was trying to make her way into Hungary. I had a room booked in Uzhhorod, but they didn't have any directions and I had no map so I went for a taxi once we arrived. 10 Hryvnias, about $2, sweet deals. Got in the cab and he took us the whole a block to the hotel. I was a little red in the face getting out of that cab! I had no idea it was only a few doors down from the station. I couldn't find any hostels in Uzhhorod so I had reserved a room at a huge concrete Intourist hotel leftover from the Soviet days. It was only $20 a night so not a bad deal for a time travel. I don`t think the room had been touched since the 70`s (except at some point in the 80`s to add the mini fridge that was bigger than the kitchen fridge at my first flat). I`m pretty sure I`ve seen the lamps in IKEA, but I don`t think that`s where these ones were from!
We went for dinner in the hotel. Couldn't read much on the menu but the waiter helped us. Had a beer, a bowl of borsht and the waiters English speakers special, a pan fried chicken breast with fries and salad. I wish I would have known how to order the real potatoes with dill that the rest of the restaurant seemed to be having, but I felt pretty special when it took an hour for the fries and they looked home made. So kudos to the chef for going out of his way to try and make us feel at home!  After dinner we hit the casino (two rows of slots) in the hotel for a bit before heading back to our rooms.
Sat 19 May
I didn't have the highest hopes for Uzhhorod and figured it would just be a rest day between travel days, but the town blew me away! By the hotel it looks like a small, somewhat industrial city but the stunning blue and gold church across the street should have hinted to me there was a bit more here. We set into town and found a nice little cafe and two meat (possibly lamb?) filled crepes. Not really breakfast food, especially once the girl squirted mayo over them, but it was good and filling so I was happy! Heading further into the center, we got a little lost, tried to avoid gypsies, found a rich street (the houses made anywhere I've lived look like shacks!) and finally made it to our destination... the castle!
It was mighty impressive for such a small town, but I guess with the location of the town it would historically make sense to have a fortress like that here. It had a big wall around it and a ditch which I guess would of had the moat and the dragon back in the day ;) Inside it was like a little palace, complete with a courtyard in the middle. The Castle is now a museum of, well, everything from the area; trees, animals that have been stuffed, traditional costumes and of course many decorated psyankas!
After the castle my buddy left to catch her bus and I headed next door to the open air museum. It was a group of about 15 old houses, a church and a school house from old villages. It looked like something right out of Little House on the Prairie. It even had some sheep wandering around and the ladies working at each house were raking or gardening on the sides if there were no groups around.
After that I went to the mall in search of internet and then shopped around the streets. I am now the proud owner of a pretty purple necklace and mom has a new bracelet. Found a camera shop that said they could put my pictures put on CD, but first I had to find somewhere to buy a CD. Once I returned with a blank CD, they burnt it in the back on their office computer for me! The guy burning the CD spoke some English and started chatting with me. Turns out he travels with his choir, so while my CD was burning he showed me his pictures of some of the places he has been with the choir.
I took the river route home for some supper. It was a nice walk along a paved trail by the river that had the picturesque birds, trees and even the elderly couple on the bench. One thing that I`ve noticed in most stores here that I don`t remember seeing at home is caviar! I stopped at the store on the way back and the shelf of caviar caught my eye ($2.50 a jar), I figured I should give it a shot instead of only eating the kind that is stuck to the outside my sushi. Next was a quick stop at the bus station. I have figured out an easy system now of writing down, in Cyrillic, my destination and the date I want to go. So I passed my note to the girl working there, she wrote down some times, I circled one and in less than 3 minutes I was out of the station with a ticket. This may not sound like much, but these little successes make me extremely happy, especially when I know what a hassle it can be. After that I went back to my dingy hotel room and ate my crackers and caviar :)
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