The Train to Lviv and The Walk into the Lychakiv Cemetery and St. George’s Church with Mariana

From the Mezhyhirya Residence, it was time for me to retire to my evening train which was going to take me to the second city of Ukraine called Lviv. My taxi driver took me to the railway station which was rand and nostalgic in its look and feel. The electronic train timetable informed the passengers when and at which platform a train will arrive. I had heard a lot that I would face language issues in Ukraine but most people, especially in hotel and travel industry, speak English. Even the announcer at the Kiev railway station announced in English from time to time.This was going to be a six-hour journey which meant that I would reach Lviv only at midnight where a pickup had already been arranged for me by Green Tours. The train bears around four or five people at least in one cabin. We kept our luggage on the top berth as I sank into my spot. The train journey was like being rocked by a lullaby all the way. We had an especially fat Ukrainian ticket collector with huge round cheeks and dark bushy hair. She was kind enough to sell me biscuits, tea and cookies during the train journey.

At the Lviv station, I was picked up and then dropped to my hotel where, again, a pleasant English speaking staff welcomed me into my room. I had not gotten over the habit of smoking in my room and was fined again with an amount of 1,000 hryvnias for my offence. The next day, it rained all morning. I caught a terrible cold and cough and so, I decided to give that day’s city tour a miss.

Next day, however, I was ready and all fresh to welcome my city guide, Marina. We walked through the rain towards the footpaths and into the largest cemetery of the city, a place of silence. The dead of the city is buried here in Lychakiv Cemetery. A walk about its quite alleys was a spiritual experience for me. This time, Mariana was the focus of attention for my camera as I saw the cemetery through her eyes. The old and the young could be seen praying or just sharing a moment of silence near the grave of their loved ones. It was a poignant moment with the dead all around you but so much of grace and solitude all around. Colourful rose garlands adorned many of the graves while candles had been lit beside some others.

St. George’s Catholic Church that had been formulated in the 18th century was our last stop of the day where I filmed a hoard of small school children who cheered me up and waved to me as I filmed them. I cheered them up to say loudly “Hi India”. All the kids cried out in one go “Hi India!” and waved with all their might. The church was like many others that I had seen in this part of the world with huge paintings of Christ on a cross formed in gold adorning its many walls. Candles lit up the church as prayers were said. On the side were a few ladies selling holy books and distributing pamphlets. Its circular domes where painted with Fresca painting depicting one Biblical scene or the other. It was getting late and chilly as Mariana offered me her umbrella. We rallied around the streets of Lviv to find our way back to my hotel.

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