Ukraine Travelogue -
Visiting Villages near Lviv

Thursday August 17, 2006

This is the long version of the travelogue. There is also a Short Version and a Slideshow of Kusten Photos with 178 images, plus videos, for this day.

The original plan for today was to sleep late and then do a 3 hr walking tour of Lviv. However our relatives were now all getting giant parties planned for us all day on only a day's notice! I was completely thrilled to have this opportunity to meet everybody. We got up at 9am.

Note to people visiting the Hotel Opera - if you turn the shower on too strongly it fills up faster than it can drain :)

I grabbed a banana and some orange juice from the restaurant, and we met up with Anna and a male relative to head out. He drove us out north the 1.5 hrs from Lviv. The landscape almost instantly turned into non-used farmland for as far as the eye could see. It was gorgeous but also a bit sad. Most of the ride involved mom talking to Anna and then translating the results for Len and me.

Lviv Map

In that map, our family region is the top right.

Anna explained that Baba used to walk this very road to get to Lviv for special shopping trips. She'd take a day to walk in, do her shopping, sleep on the side of the road then walk home the next day. The fields at the time were all full of wheat. The main road was paved relatively well and our driver was doing about 80mph on it, occasionally passing farmers and wagons. As soon as we turned off onto the side roads the potholes got larger and soon they were dirt roads with giant puddles. We passed many cows, chickens, and wagons pulled by horses but with rubber tires. The landscape was primarily empty fields with tiny towns and small clumps of trees.

Kusten Photo

Anna explained that it's too cool here for corn, they grow grain instead when they do grow anything. In a latitude sense, we are at about the US-Canadian border here. We passed one power station that provides power for the entire region and even some of Poland too.

In previous years under Communism rule you weren't allowed to visit villages like we were currently doing. You could only visit main cities with a guide at all times. When Paul and Romana came (my godfather and his wife), the cops showed up immediately and were nice enough to sit outside while they visited, then escorted them the whole way back to Lviv. The police apologized but said it was their job.

In Communist times, all churches and monasteries were closed and allowed to go to ruins. Now they're rebuilding the churches, in part for tourists. As we went down smaller roads the homes all had metal fences along the road to keep out the cows.

Anna's husband was a lumberjack. The woods had goats, elks, foxes and wolves - plus wild boar that would come into the towns occasionally and cause trouble. Her husband would have to shoot wild boars to stay safe. In the towns they spoke some Ukrainian but the schools were all Russian. We passed a big stone sign which was a symbol of their collective farm. The farm's name was named for the nearby river Stiv.

Apparently Anna, one of Baba's siblings, just died a few years ago, she was 94 or 95.

A nearby town had lots of white ducks in the road, and only has a 'minimarket'. While this isn't a big deal in my own hometown - I just drive to a nearby town with a grocery store - here they rarely have cars and have to hike on foot to get their food. On we went. We passed over more dirt roads with big puddles, geese and turkey.

We finally arrived at Anna's home with her very gentlemanly, friendly husband named Andri. We liked Andri a lot!

Part 2 - Visiting at Anna's Home
Slideshow of Kusten Photos - 178 images
Videos from Kusten

Ukraine Travelogue home page

Lisa Shea Homepage