Saturday, May 26, 2012

Ivano-Frankivsk and Yaremche: now I am officially Off The Beaten Path

Well... off the American beaten path. I managed my way to a slice of the Ukrainian beaten path.

I went to Ivano-Frankivsk because it was another place besides Lviv in Galicia and there are relatively many couchsurfers there. Then I had a free day there and no idea what to do, but my cheerful host Anna mentioned that a lot of folks come to Ivano-Frankivsk on their way to go hiking (or even skiing) in the Carpathian mountains. And the easiest way to get there was to go to a small town called Yaremche.

Language confusion is sort of the best and the worst here in Ukraine. I guess it is one of the least English speaking places that I might normally go to, at least according to one guy. I muddled through Pimsleur Russian enough that I can invite Mr. Pronin for a beer at Cafe Savor (unless he would prefer wine), but western Ukraine is the most Ukrainian-speaking (and least Russian-speaking) part of the country. Nevertheless, the languages are close enough, and enough people speak both, that you can get by with Russian just fine. ... if your Russian is good enough to also understand Mr. Pronin's response to your invitation, which mine isn't.

In short, it's the hardest place to get around. I know less Polish/Czech/Balkan than Russian, but whenever something serious has come up, there's been an English speaker near enough. Ukraine is the only place where I've felt that we might just have to abort the conversation.

Me, in broken Russian: "Do you going Yaremche?"
Bus driver: something I didn't understand.
Me: "Uh, you travel Yaremche?"
Bus driver: "No."
Me: "Okay, thanks." (gets off bus)
Bus driver and everyone on the bus: kind of looks at me funny out the window
Me: (getting back on bus) "I don't understand. Yaremche, da?"
Bus driver: "Da!"
Me: laughs, sits down.
Bus driver: "Hah! I don't understand!"
Everyone on the bus: laughs.

Anyway, Yaremche was nice. There's a waterfall totally surrounded by souvenir stands. Where am I, Nepal? I guess there's also a nice trail to walk on.

Me: (again, broken Russian) Where is the "way of Dovbush"?
Guy: (laughing) Go autobahn, there. (points to road)
Me: Okay, thanks.
Guy: (still laughing)

Me: Excuse me, where is the Way of Dovbush?
Lady: (pointing, says something I don't understand.)
Me: Uh, okay. (starts walking one way)
Lady: (something else, pointing the other way, the way I just came, where there is clearly no Way of Dovbush)
Me: Oh! Okay. (I start walking the other way, then pause, turn around, and scurry past, the way I was originally going, while she's talking to someone else.)

So I didn't go hiking.

Ivano-Frankivsk is nice too. Anna gave me a thorough tour. It has lots of iron art sculptures, because there's an iron-art festival every year.

It also has this cool pond.
It also has at least one great cafe/wafflery, where I am now, and where I'm going to leave because it's crowded, and I've been sitting here for a long time.


  1. Haha sounds like a funny situation on the bus.
    Happy Birthday to you!!! I hope you treated yourself today. I look forward to when I can give you a birthday present, and Christmas present, etc... as you seem to be missing for holidays when I can give you things! :) I hope you had a lovely golden birthday (the year when your age and day of birth correspond). Come home soon!

  2. Well, birthday boy, I hope you had some Брикет дня народження with candles and chocolate лідяний крем. Perhaps you raised a glass of Lvivske or Obolon. We were thinking about you.
    Na zdorovye.