After my flight to Munich was an hour delayed I didn’t know if I would make my connecting flight to Lviv. I raced through airport looking for more terminal and found it in time (just like they do in the Amazing Race).  By the way, you may see me make a  lot of Amazing Race references here, it’s not advertising.  It’s just my favorite show and I’ve decidied I’m going to pretend I’m on the Amazing Race whenever things get challenging.   But it turned out that my flight to Lviv ended up being more than an hour late.  It was total chaos!!!!  A good word for this in Russian is bardak. But rather than spending precious time on complaining about incompetent Lufthansa employees I’m going to get straight to the Lviv stuff.

I just found this photo on the internet

So we arrived on the tarmack in the Lviv.  There are no terminals. There are no escalotors, no moving belts for the baggage.  It’s two rooms.  The translations into English on the signs are pretty funny but I didn’t dare take a picture.  The custom sign says something about bringing ‘drastic substances’ into the country.

Compared with Moscow, passport control in Ukraine was a breeze.  I’m always terrified going through control in Moscow, I don’t know if it’s the black ceilling or the intimidating passport control agents (do they have monthly training with those women to teach them how to give nasty and penetrating stares? “No, team, I still feel like a human you have to be even NASTIER”) So anyway, I was shocked by how simple it was in Lviv. She asked me, ‘Vere you going’ and told me to look straight ahead and stamped it.  I didn’t have to fill out any papers or anything. I fillled out one of the papers anyway and was delighted by the English there. Here are some of the blanks I was supposed to fill in.  I’ll do it in the form of a quiz.  You tell me what you think they’re trying to say.  You can check your answers at the bottom.

“ATTENTION: This card is filled in by the owner of the passport personally.  The card to fillin per each person as well, who is put down into the passport and who goes across the border together with the owner of the passport.

Alt the lins are filled legible with capital blocks. Leave the blanks between the words if you need several words to fill the lines of the card.

 

1. SUMAME

2. DIRTH

3. Signature of Dearer”

 

Yeah, so that’s what I was working with and the signs in the airport describing who needed to fill out this paper were equally as understandable.  Fortunately I didn’t need anything, just a page in my passport to stamp.  Can I just say how much I LOVE Ukraine’s new Visa policy.  It’s a breeze.  No Visa necessary for under 90 days.

 

So let me continue to explain the Lviv airport.  The baggage claim consisted of two men pulling our luggage off of a cart and putting it on the floor of the lobby of the customs room, which was quickly filling up with people who were waiting to go through customs.  People were stumbling over the suitcases, whacking each other as they would try and lift their suitcase out of the rubble.  One lady, who had tons of suitcase and two little girls, pulled the baggage men aside and asked them to help her lift her 8 suitcases onto the security scanner.  I was amazed at how obligingly they did so.  But also amazed that all that other luggage just waited outside on the cart while they patiently waited at the scanner.

Which now leads me to the customs.  If you had any jewelry or ‘drastic substances’ you had to go to the right and if you didn’t you went to the left.  Customs consisted of a room with a desk in the middle and two tiny, and VERY slow moving scanners.  But I tell you, the attendant made up for in her attentiveness what the equipment lacked.  The room at this point is packed with suiticases piled on top of each other, people piled on top of suitcases, and suitcases piled on top of people, no, this last one is a ‘drastic’ situation and it didn’t get to that point. I am joke (as my friend Vova says).

The scanner attendent was scrutinizing every suitcase as it went through the scanner.  BTW, this is in the ‘nothing to claim’ line.  It seemed to me she was satisfying her own cuiriousity rather than enforcing homeland security. Then she would make the owner of the suitcase open up the suitcase and proceded to rummage through it.  The lady in front of me with the two little girls and all the baggage got some serious dirty looks.  The lady was asking, “What is this? What do you use it for?  Why do you need that?” Followed by a very disapproving glare. And so on.

My suitcase, fortunately, escaped the scrutiny.  And I’m glad because I just don’t think I would have had the language skills to describe peanut butter and why I’m giving it as a gift.

 

As I went through the door, my hostess, Ulyana, excitedly found me.  No korovai, no folk costume. L  But I was thrilled to see that she had stayed and waited for me even after I came through those doors 2 hours later than expected. Her boyfriend couldn’t stay and wait for me the whole time so he went back to work.  We called a cab and headed into the city.

The people and the atmosphere was very reminiscent ofMoscow, but it’s definitely more quaint.  The roads are either pot-holed or cobblestone.  It lacks the multi-lane highways that you see in Moscow.  All roads are either one or two lanes.  But the one thing that made me really grasp that this was not Moscow, is that I wasn’t closing my eyes and clenching my teeth in terror every time the driver would change lanes.

 

Answers to quiz:

1. SURNAME

2. BIRTH

3. Signature of the ?

Don’t know, but I like to think it was supposed to say, “Signature of our dear visitor”