There is a hole in the roof of the house I am living in and people are coming in, down a ladder. I don’t know where they’re coming from but there are loads of them. Some of them I know but most of them are strangers. They’re making themselves at home. I’m not sure if this is my house or not. Maybe it isn’t. Most of these people are quite friendly. I don’t really want to kick them out, and I think if I asked them to leave they would just be baffled.
Sitting on the sofa of the small common room area of the hostel in Lviv with my laptop, a two year old Mac Powerbook whose battery has pretty much died so it now needs to be constantly connected to a power supply. In the area just outside, covered by a leaking plastic roof, where building work is going on, occasionally, some men sit around a table drinking vodka and beer. One of them is the owner of the hostel. He invites me to come and join them for a drink. He speaks a little English but none of the others speak any. I’m introduced to them by immediately forget their names. The owner pours out vodka into small plastic cups, except I get a metal measuring cup.
Things are difficult in Ukraine. Even though I didn’t understand the language in Slovakia, Poland or Lithuania, at least I could read the letters, and then it’s often possible to get an idea of what’s going on. The culture here is also quite different. East Europe by comparison is very European. I’m in Lviv now, which is a big town. There don’t seem to be many restaurants or bars here. There are stalls where they sell beer and you can sit outside to drink it, but last night the only place I could find to eat was a McDonald’s. I think I might have signed up to the KarmaBanque boycott of McDonald’s, but I lapsed last night. At least Big Mac is the same in any language, and even looks similar the way they write it in cyrillic, but it’s just as repulsive in Ukraine as it is in any other country.
I got on the train for Lviv at Kosice, Slovakia, at 7:24 but I didn’t have a ticket. I’d gone to what I think was the Kasa, ticket booth, in kosice station but the woman behind the curtains didn’t speak any English. I showed her my print out with the train I wanted to get on it, but she just wrote down the time of the train on it, even though the time was already on there. I told her I wanted to buy a ticket but she was just pointing to the train. It was about 7:10. I should have said billet instead of ticket, she probably would have understood that. Anyway, I assumed I’d be able to buy a ticket on the train.