Eastern Europe 2017: Days 1-13 (Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine)

Day 1-2: Glasgow —> Palanga, Lithuania

I only got one hour of sleep last night since I had to leave at 4am for the airport.  After going through security I used my leftover pounds to buy books in the WH Smith because I’m going to be on A LOT of long bus and train rides over the next 80 days.  I plan on just leaving them at whatever hostel I’m at when I finish them, because I can definitely not lug around all these books forever.  My Osprey 30L is a good size for all of my essentials, but I’m going to have to buy a second bag to hold all the souvenirs I want to buy.  (That’s alright though because I’m not going on any budget flights until I fly home.)

I’m only spending one night in Palanga because I REALLY want to get to Poland, so tomorrow will be entirely spent on a bus!

Sunset over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw

Days 2-6: Warsaw, Poland

Spent most of this day on a bus.  Got to Warsaw around midnight.  Took a taxi to my hostel because it felt safer, but the taxi driver still tried to scam me.  The front desk worker at my hostel (Oki Doki Hostel) helped me talked to the taxi driver.  Even though it wasn’t her fault at all, she gave me a little discount off my reservation and gave me a free breakfast token, which was really kind of her.

I did 4 different walking tours and they were all pretty quality.  I really enjoyed Warsaw, even though many people told me that they liked Krakow more.  I went to the Warsaw Uprising Museum (16 zloty for student ticket), which had a recreation of a sewer that you can walk through.  The Museum of Polish Jews is free on Thursdays, but it was so informative I would’ve paid for it.  There aren’t many artifacts; it’s mainly just a visual history of Jewish people in Poland so prepare for lots of reading.

Chernobyl had a lot of creepy moments like this one

Days 7-11 : Kiev

I was so close to missing my bus to Kiev it’s not even funny.  I couldn’t find the bus stop to take to the bus station and there was a traffic jam so I couldn’t get a taxi.  I ran back to my hostel and when they told me again that bus 127 “is so easy to find” I started crying because I was STRESSED and no it was NOT easy (it was pretty simple to find I just wasn’t thinking straight).  Once I got to the bus station it was 5 minutes til departure and I couldn’t find anyone who spoke English so I wasn’t even sure if I was on the right bus or not.  Thankfully I was, but there was a little voice in the back of my head worrying about it the entire way.

I like Kiev, I really do.  I was concerned at first when I arrived at the Central Bus Station at 7:35am since it’s not in the nicest side of town, but once you get to Independence Square everything really lightens up.  It’s crazy inexpensive in Ukraine: breakfast for less than $2, a huge dinner for $4.60, metro rides for 15 cents, and a ballet performance for $3.  It’s going to be hard facing the prices everywhere else.

The highlight of my time in Kiev was definitely the day trip to Chernobyl.  A guy in my hostel was also going on the same tour as me so we got breakfast beforehand and arrived a tiny bit late.  This turned out for the best because we were put in the overflow van instead of on the big bus.  So we had a small 15-person tour compared to what could’ve been a 40+ person tour.

Days 11-13 : Lviv

Lviv was very sweet and is very similar to Krakow (which is from where I currently type this).  I’m glad I went to Kiev, but to save time and have an easier trip, you can skip Kiev and just go to Lviv.  There are a lot more English speakers in Lviv than Kiev, and it’s actually a little bit cheaper.

I watched the sunset on the top of a hill with a girl that I met in Kiev and a really beefy Norwegian, so that was a good ending to my time in Ukraine.  I was very excited to get back to Poland though, to a country where I can actually understand the alphabet.