Return To L’viv June 10-June 12, 2023

Full Photo Album:

Rob and friends in camper

After a year’s absence, I arrived in L’viv to prepare to visit Kyiv and parts of the east. On the train ride from Poland, I was in an old-timey sleeper car accompanied by 1) a fellow American volunteer from Seattle, David, 2) a retired Norwegian professor visiting his Ukrainian wife, 3) and a young Ukrainian student.

While in L’viv, I connected with a New York-based Ukrainian American from L’viv who was visiting his family, Andrew. Andrew was my block’s UPS driver and delivery man for several years. Once I learned he was from Ukraine, we got to know each other well over the years and always discussed visiting the country together. We never considered it would be during a war.

Andrew was back home to help care for his elderly parents. His brother generously gave Andrew use of his car and met me at the train station. After dropping off my bags at the Opera Hote (the same one I’d stayed in last summer 2022 when filming with Anastasia), we left to see his hometown of Pustomyl just outside of L’viv to visit the cemetery and pay somber respects to the local heroes killed defending their homeland, and then celebrate a friend’s birthday party.

For a brief moment, one could forget there was a war, but when the party ended, everyone dutifully packed the leftover food into packages to donate to the soldiers. We all headed home in the darkness of curfew. The dichotomy of somberness and joy foreshadowed the entire month of my trip to Ukraine.