Monday, October 3, 2011

Vacation: Lviv and Poland

Around 11pm Wednesday night the group met up together at the train station to head to Lviv, Ukraine. I have never been on train before let alone a sleeper style train! It was quite an experience but I actually thought it was a whole lot of fun!! With half a car full of our girls, it was one loud, obnoxious train ride for the first hour or so. We were dancing in our isles, jamming out together, laughing uncontrollably, and just being the good friends we have become. Eventually we all retreated to our bunks because the lights turned off and at this point it was hilarious to listen to the sounds of the muffled giggling and being blinded by the intense flash of a camera.
Eventually we went to sleep but I didn’t stay asleep long. I happen to be 6 feet tall and the bunks are not. Part of my shins and my feet were hanging out into the isle all night so I kept getting hit and if you know me, I couldn’t sleep curled up because I would’ve definitely fallen off the teeny bunk once or twice.

Either way, we arrived in Lviv at 9am after a long, long night. We spent the entire day in Lviv just going our separate ways in smaller groups touring the BEAUTIFUL city. We went to a fun underground restaurant, shopping at the souvenir street, toured a chocolate factory, went on a bus tour of the city, and hiked up the highest clock tower in Lviv to see the gorgeous view.

The view of the city from the clock tower
The Lviv Train Station. 
This one is for my brothers. Even though I am holding the gun all wrong :)
We all met back at the train station around 8pm and our bus driver that was taking us to Poland eventually arrived about 9:30pm. Now, this isn’t what you’d call a bus of the normal kind…but it did its job. There were 18 of us girls and 19 if you include the driver. It was cramped and incredibly impossible to sleep straight up in our seats combined with the condition of the roads from Ukraine to Poland. Just as I had finally started to fall asleep I was awakened by the van door opening and a gruff Ukrainian lady in a military uniform asking me for my passport and to get out of the van. I was so unaware of what was going on but eventually I was able to figure myself out and stumble off the bus. When she was done checking everyone’s passports, we made it through the Ukraine border only to wait in line to cross the border into Poland. I was in and out of sleep the whole time but those who were awake said the whole process at the border took us 4 hours. Jeesh.

Eventually I made my way to the floor of the bus to sleep because my seat was so uncomfortable and I was able to sleep for a couple hours. Apparently we arrived at our destination site in Poland around 5am. About 7am we all started getting up to get ready for the day because we were in the parking lot of our first tour of the day—the famous salt mines of Poland—which were absolutely INCREDIBLE. You had to pay extra to take pictures so we just designated two of the girls to take pictures and all pitched in to pay for the camera passes…so a link to those pictures will come shortly.

Around noon we were done at the salt mines and we got back on that bus to drive to our hostel. The hostel was much better than I expected…kind of like dorm rooms with 3 bunk beds in each room. I jumped right into the showers and I have never been so happy to be clean and bathed in my life. We all unpacked a little but, ate some food, and then went off again to trek out to go to Schindler’s Factory. IT was an incredible museum and I was completely emotionally drained 2 hours later when I exited. It was one of the most moving museums I have been to.

The next morning we woke up bright and early to get back on that bus of ours to drive about another 2 hours to Auschwitz. On the way there I was blown away by the beauty of Poland. It is absolutely gorgeous and I want to live there for the rest of my life. I love Poland so very much.

The sign in front of Auschwitz that says work will set you free
Auschwitz Barracks

When we arrived in Auschwitz a somber mood came upon our group. Our tour of Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau is one I cannot express in words but photographs which do not do the emotions I felt justice. I walked where they walked, stood where many were executed, went in their cells, the gas chambers, saw the children’s clothes…it is something to never be forgotten.

When we arrived back at our hostel we had a tour planned of Poland which was even more beautiful inside the city than the rolling hills outside of the city. It was such a fun tour and after the tour we all sort of went our separate ways and a few of us went to souvenir street and checked out the best shops and haggled for the best prices on the things we wanted to buy. We had an absolute blast. I wanted to stay in that city forever!

Border crossing.

We left in the morning back on the bus which was cramped and hard to handle again for 11 hours. Border crossing took 4 hours again in a hot bus but we managed. After the border crossing all of this random energy starting emanating out of all the girls and a wave of crazy washed over us. The next two hours were full of singing, dancing-yes, tons of photos, and just one fun time. We arrived in Lviv around 9pm and out train left at 10pm so we just went straight to the platform and waited. By now we were all completely exhausted from the trip and traveling that when our train did come we all immediately went to sleep.
Our train came into Kiev about 7am and I had to take the metro for about 30 more minutes to get home. 
When I did get home my host mom had a bowl of cheerios, honey, and milk waiting on the table for me! She already knows me so well. Hahah :) When the kids eventually woke up I was mobbed, tackled, and tickled until I couldn’t breathe. I missed them too! It’s good to be home.

If you would like to see all of the pictures from the trip, including many more from Auschwitz and Schindler's Factory you can check out my album on Facebook:


  1. I loved your trip to Poland and all your postings. I know others are reading and trying to comment but having trouble leaving messages. It's definitely worth it to keep this up. I love it!
    I can see the joy of the experience in your eyes.

  2. Every Ukrainian city boasts plenty of cultural attractions. After having traveled in Ukraine, you will have a ton of great memories after seeing this country's historical and cultural landmarks.

    Arcadia Odessa Apartments