"Lviving it up"
I spent my extra day in Lviv doing exactly what I wanted to do namely relax. I'd been around the city the previous day and I'd seen pretty much all of what I wanted to. It's sounds terrible to say but once you've seen one street lined with café’s and a church at the end of it you've kind of seen them all. Not everyone is the same I understand and some people will want to go and visit every museum and find every statue but this just isn't for me. I can, like I did yesterday get a flavour for the city by walking around it but for me a place is much more than that; it's about the people who live there and the people you meet while travelling through.
I spent most of my day mulling around the hostel chatting with people and doing various bits and pieces. I started by doing a little bit of general housekeeping and before I knew it I was into full blown cleaning mode emptying out the entire contents of my panniers whilst taking them out onto the balcony for a good old clean. I think I've done a pretty decent job of keeping everything in order on my trip but it's not easy especially when you spend a lot of time camping out in fields. It's sometimes incredible for me to think my whole life to a certain extent for the last five and a half months has been stuffed into five bags attached to my bike. Part of me snapped today though and I just decided that everything needed cleaning; we all get that from time to time. It felt good but I know in a couple of days it will revert to slightly untidy state.
I did venture out in the afternoon, part out of guilt as it was a bright sunny day but also to pick up some food. I was down to my last 45 Hryvnia (around three pounds fifty) so really didn't want to have to go to the bank and take out more cash as I would be leaving the next day and besides it's amazing what one can buy with that amount of money.
The hostel was empty when I arrived but soon filled up with people from all over the place; Holland, Brazil, Switzerland and even some fellow Brits.
It's been really nice at the hostel to do a little bit of cooking, nothing special you understand but some hearty bowls of pasta with tomato sauce and veggies have gone down a treat.
I resisted the invitation by a few other people to head out to sample Lviv nightlife and instead opted for watching Match of the Day. I had an early start the next day and I wanted to be nice and fresh in the morning for my ride to the border and into Poland.
I set the alarm for five thirty but needn’t have bothered as I woke up at five anyway. This is usually the case when I'm just about to enter into a new country and it was no different here; my excitement had got the better of me. I was determined to get out of Lviv nice and early. Like I mentioned before the cobbled stone streets add a certain charm to the city but make cycling a complete nightmare and an exercise in patience control.
I managed to negotiate my way out of the city with minimal fuss, a few wrong turns and backtracking here and there but it wasn't long before I was heading out of Lviv and back into the countryside towards Poland. It didn't take too long to ride the 80 or so kilometres to the Polish border. I read up on the border crossing the day before and had been told to expect queues especially on the Ukrainian side. This though wasn't the case for foot passengers such as myself, I did however feel sorry for those travelling by car. Myself and other people crossing on foot were able to take an unhurried stroll down the fenced off walkway and within no time at all I was handing my passport over to the customs control. The whole process couldn't have been more straightforward.
There was a mixture of relief and elation as I saw the EU flag and I'm very much now looking forward to the prospect of just cruising across countries just like passing through towns.
Looking back to the border
Przemysl was my first stop in Poland and I was really pleased to see the German, and more importantly low cost supermarket Lidel as soon as I rolled into town. What with it being close to lunch time I popped in and picked up some supplies to make sandwiches. My next stroke of fortune was to happen upon a bike shop just five minutes further down the road. My front brake cable had snapped earlier in the morning and yes I know what some of you will say 'why didn't you have a spare with you?' but the fact of the matter is I didn't but do now.
I had a brief look around Przemysl as I'd made good time in the morning but I was still intent on making it as I originally planned to Rzeszow before the day was out.
Poland had previously been described to me as 'one long village' and I didn't at the time know quite what to make of that statement. The road I took however gave a certain amount of credence to this. I know for a fact that there is a more scenic route to Rzescow but I decided to go for the main road as it looked like there was far less scope for getting lost. The road itself was great in terms of surface but pretty narrow. The two Polish guys I met in Lviv had told me that I could expect to find much better roads in Poland as opposed to Ukraine. I have to say I disagree with this but this is only based on the road I took Route 73 then 4 followed by the E40. The road all the way was pretty much single lane on either side. I still had plenty of room on the hard shoulder but the presence of giant trucks powering past is never a great thing.
There seems to be a greater concentration of people in Poland and the whole 'village feel' as it were comes from the fact that there are small villages and towns dotted along the road every 10 kilometres or so. Poland it seems is big on traffic control and reducing the speed of vehicles along this route which is a great thing but it does mean that there are a lot of traffic lights. As a cyclist it's not really a problem for me as I can simply pass all the waiting cars in line on the outside but I have to say this road must be really infuriating if you're a motorist.
The fact that there are more villages on the road meant it was harder to find a place to bed down for the night. I did however eventually come across some trees which backed onto a field well out of sight of the main road. I left myself with about 200 kilometers to ride to Krakow tomorrow and just a little short of the city of Rzescow. I know it seems a long way but I'm hoping to make it so that I can enjoy a nice three days relaxation in the city.