Lychakiv Cemetery is a very old necropolis of historic and symbolic value, established in 1786. Seems not so long ago, but if you take for example Père-Lachaise in Paris, where Molier, Balzac, Oscar Wilde and Marcel Proust are buried, it is younger then cemetery in Lviv.
Full with chapels, sculptures and tombs, gives chills both because of the artistic beauty and because… you know, it is a cemetery.
To fully experience and understand the complexity and diversity of Lychakiv cemetery a bit of historical background is necessary. The necropolis served for Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants and Eastern Rite Catholics – all together. Along the graves of Polish insurgents of 1794, 1830, 1863 and Polish defenders of the city during war with Ukraine (Lviv Eaglets volunteer militia), there can be found graves of SS-Division “Galicia” and Ukrainian National Army fighting on Axis’ side. And a bit further – memorial to Soviet troops fighting Nazis during World War II. Alongside with the victims of NKVD…
Devastated during communist times – one time even with a bulldozer – now is restored and considered a symbolic place for Poles.
After such strong experience there was no time or will to see something else. We reached the train station and with mixture of my ill-learned Russian and piece of paper managed to buy tickets for the next morning. Shocked how cheap they were we asked Sofiya two times to confirm it is a full price and we won’t be left somewhere in the middle of the field. And we had so-called “plackarta”, which means a car with lying places. For around 2 euro per person.
Next morning we left for what was about to become a most fun and weird train ride. Cars filled with “sort of beds” made from red artificial leather, but no compartments. We loved the places after not more than an hour ride in about 30 degrees, when every part of your skin was sticking to them. And sweat began to gather in small puddles in the most frequently used, worn-out fragments of the seats. Sheets and pillows were available, I guess, but no one can be sure what have they seen. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a fancy person, but knowing how sticky I am I couldn’t figure out how hard they’d need to be washed…
Luckily the atmosphere was worth the sweat. No compartments and feeling of being trapped in this sauna for several upcoming hours brought people together. Lively talks between strangers, small bottles of smelly fluids being passed by, somebody playing an accordion, somebody playing a guitar…
As much as we wanted to get out of this deadly heated trap, the main difficulty was that we didn’t know how to spot the station. No signs on several stops. Train conductor and passengers when asked about Ivano-Frankivsk were just waving that it’s not here. And from what we’ve understood the train already had a huge delay so we couldn’t even count on the watch.
FInally we’ve arrived and somehow managed to confirm it is our station. So here I was, in Ivano-Frankivsk with night falling and two girls for whom I felt responsible. Damn, had to figure out something. There was one last bus Yaremche, but judging by the number of people waiting for it our chances were not that good.
Just in this moment we’ve got approached by an Ukrainian woman with a small son, asking if we are going to Yaremche. She must have overheard us, and lucky for us she was going the same direction, so she offered to split a cab. Cab? For sixty kilometers? We must have looked really rich. But when she said what it will cost us and that she will negotiate with the cab drivers, the price was acceptable.
So after around half an hour and two dozens of cab drivers leaving with laughter after the negotiations she found a white Volga car with driver that accepted the conditions. In Poland in the communist times we’ve had a city legend about black Volga going around the streets and capturing little kids. Around 30 years ago. And this Volga looked like it remembered these times. But ah, adventure! Anything is better than to be stuck in a big city in the night.
After a long ride in the night the woman and her son paid their part and left in front of a house in Yaremche. So there we were with an uncomfortable question where the driver should leave us… Haven’t thought it through, it was around midnight or one o’clock and we just wanted a place for a tent.
For some reason people are always looking strange at you when you say “Just leave me anywhere close to a forest or a field, I will sleep there”. Like you’re mad or something.