Dinner in Ukraine, Alone, Again

February 19th, 2007

Yesterday afternoon Bohdan came over and we walked to a nearby soccer field where I got to fly my helicopter for the first time in Ukraine and for the first time over snow. The flight went well. I got inverted a few times and flew out of a couple of nasty situations without crashing. A few folks stopped to watch but nothing more than I normally get back home (this is a good thing).

Then we went to pizza. This is one of the many “New York” pizza places called Pizza Verona. They actually spell pizza піца and that’s pronounced “pea-cha”. The pizza was pretty good but its not a whole lot like any new york pizza I’ve ever had before. It’s round. And it has thin crust. But they use a different cheese, and sauce, and their salami ain’t any salami I’ve ever seen before. So it’s different, but it’s good, добрий (d’oh-bray, don’t forget to trill your ‘r’).

From pizza we raced against the setting sun up to a place they call “high castle”. It’s the highest point in the city, around 400m above the pizza place, Bohdan tells me. They have a huge antenna up on top of the hill. We walk briskly through some very old neighborhoods, past a ~300 year old church and through another neighborhood, past a fancy restaurant and then, up ~500 stairs. At the top of the stairs it levels off and you see the base of the antenna. Then you can also see the high castle, 300m ahead and at least 100m above you. We continue walking briskly past many couples; this is obviously the hot spot to take your woman for a nice night out. Don’t worry, Heather, I can find it again, it’s hard to miss. Once atop the high castle you can see all of downtown L’viv as well as the outlying areas. From the old Austrian-era buildings to the newer Russian-era buildings (the difference is stark).

After that (I’m telling you, they’re keeping me busy here) we went over to Roman’s house to watch some movies. Bohdan said we’d watch, I think I’m remembering this correctly, “Leon the Killer” since that movie they had english audio for. It turns out that this is actually the movie “The Professional” with Natalie Portman from when she was a little girl. After that we watched a movie that was in english but was dubbed over in Ukrainian. I mostly just watched the pictures.

Today went well. The walk to work this morning, though cold as always, was under blue skies. At lunch time Markiyan and I went to a place nearby that he apparently goes to quite often. I’m not sure exactly what I ate. It had meat in it, I think pork, some cheese and tomato slices. I had mashed potatoes on the side. They were both pretty darn good. The rest of the day went as usual. I had hoped to take advantage of my lack of evening meetings to leave work during daylight and walk home. Instead the sun set faster than I expected (i.e. I lost track of time) and it was dark. Yuriy came by and asked if I was leaving soon and I decided to leave then so I could walk down the “scary” street with him. I don’t find it particularly scary myself, but I’ve been warned not to walk it alone after dark.

After arriving at home I had to decide whether to cook the three potato pancakes I still had in the freezer (I nearly ruined the pan the last time I tried), find a place to buy groceries at 9pm or go buy dinner. I opted to go buy dinner. I went in search of an ATM and came up empty handed. I found a nice looking cafe (кафе I think that is pronounced more like kaffy than cafe) with stickers for credit cards in the window and decided to eat there. Remembering my last experience at a restaurant here by myself I went in with a different attitude. I was screwed and I knew it.

The folks in L’viv (at least near my apt) are apparently so not used to having tourists come in that the completely glazed over look in my eyes and constant shaking of my head doesn’t trigger any alarms. Usually the first few english words I say “english?” don’t even tip them off. I sat down at a table and was given a menu, in Ukrainian. I looked it over, beginning to recognize a few words like coca cola (кока кола), but still completely unable to find food. I could tell based on the menu that there was definitely food there. I grabbed my Ukrainian phrase book out of my pocket and pointed, while we both laughed, to “dinner” in the book. She said they didn’t have dinner. So I pointed to “food?”. No, no food here. What the? I can see food! She left and another came running over. She yapped off something in Ukrainian. Or maybe she tried Polish or Russian on me. I couldn’t tell the difference. Then she said “you speak english?” “YES!” the whole cafe heard me say. Ahh. Thank god, she spoke english. She told me that have only pizza. Pizza!? Fantastic. добрий. She picked the first pizza in the menu and translated the ingredients for me. Sounded great. I ordered a pizza and a beer. This pizza was good. Quite good. They use mozzarella here and the crust is pretty good. The chicken, red bell peppers, olives and mushrooms were all fine. The pizza was good. I ate what I could leaving only one slice behind.

She brought me my check and I showed her my Visa. No dice. Despite the Visa stickers on the window they don’t take cards. Yikes, I only have 5 Hra and I owe 18. I had $5 USD in my pocket, worth around 25 Hra. She asked someone something and said I could pay with that and they’d give me change. Nice. So I had pizza and a beer for $5, including the large 25% tip I left for her speaking english. I’ll be back.

Entry Filed under: Ukraine

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sheri  |  February 20th, 2007 at 1:46 am

    I was so excited to hear about your adventurous future! It’s so cool you are sharing about it. I don’t read newspapers, but I will look forward to reading your great writings! Totally awesome!

    What is a she-dude, or is it just what it says?

    Cousin Sheri

  • 2. Bob  |  February 20th, 2007 at 9:24 am

    A she-dude is a dude dressed as a woman :-)


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