Day 70–74: Running Out of Time

These козак statues are in front of the gov’t offices in Ivano-Frankivsk. I thought they were cool.

Day 70:

Friday. We decide that, instead of taking a taxi, we should walk into work today. The distance is only about 3km ( just under 2 miles ) and the walk allows us to experience the sites of the city in a way we could not in a taxi.

A “sun” flower sculpture in a park. Ivano-Frankivsk has a lot of metal-work sculptures and has an event every year celebrating welders / metal-workers.

In the evening, we join a couple of guys for another futbol match and food. Tonight, however, will not be a late night, because last night already was.

Meat, meat, meat, fries, and some veggies. A perfect dinner.

Day 71:

I’m pretty sure that thus far, I’ve neglected to mention Desyatka, which is a sin. Desyatka is a restaurant close to the SoftServe office here in IF. It’s nice, reasonably well-priced, and has large portions of food. It also serves a Polish soup called журек ( zhurek ), which is amazing. I’m pretty sure I had журек every single day I was in Ivano-Frankivsk.

Desyatka ( десятка ) — much like a Buffalo Wild Wings or Applebee’s, but with food that’s actually good.

One of my co-workers has to return to his hometown of Chernivtsi today in order to attend a wedding, so we see him off at the bus station. We will be joining him in Chernivtsi on Tuesday night. Tonight, however, it’s time to learn a new type of billiards — Russian billiards.

Yes, every ball except one is white in Russian billiards. Also, there are no numbers.

Russian billiards initially sounds easy. You can use any ball to hit any other ball into any pocket and the goal is to be the first person to sink eight balls. Then, after taking a few shots, you notice two things:

1 — The balls are slightly larger than regular billiards balls.

2 — The pockets are smaller than regular pockets and, most importantly, the corners around the pockets are built to reject indirect shots.

However, after realizing that you need to keep your aim exact and always hit your target ball in a way that makes it travel straight into the pocket ( instead of trying to use the corners to roll it in ) everything starts to go right. We played only one game, but it took us quite a while to finish. It was fun and interesting to learn the new game, but I think I prefer normal billiards because of the additional strategy and flexibility involved.

Day 72:

I mentioned in a previous post that I would say something about the roads in Ukraine. Just as with all countries, not all roads are good and not all roads are bad, but some places have better infrastructure than others. To its credit, Ukraine is working hard on improving the road system, but for now, well, a picture is worth 1000 words.

The road on which my hotel is located in Ivano-Frankivsk

Sunday evening was ice skating with the girls. Surprisingly, even though I’ve been less than ten times in my life and haven’t gone at all in maybe a decade, I was not terrible at it. As a bonus, the rink was almost entirely empty. In fact, for the first 30 minutes or so of the 1 hour session, it was just us four.

Have you ever seen an ice rink ( that’s open ) this empty? I haven’t.

After ice skating we have a light dinner and some ice cream at a restaurant that gives a beautiful view of a city square.

I have to learn to stop taking pictures through windows because there’s always a reflection

By the way, a lot of restaurants in Ukraine have big, comfortable couches around the table instead of uncomfortable wooden chairs. It makes relaxing and enjoying your meal all that much better. I love it. But I doubt any restaurant in the USA would ever do the same. They’re too focused on getting diners in and out and processing the next set of customers.

Day 73:

We are joined today by the the SoftServe project manager for our teams. He will be with us for these last two days in Ivano-Frankivsk and the first two days in Chernivtsi. Rather than getting a taxi or walking to work, today we take a marshrootka ( маршрутка — a city bus ). The cost is 4 UAH, or $0.18.

Put your money on the rug next to the driver and take a ticket. No one I saw even thought about trying to cheat the system. Even people who got on from the back and easily could have.

The evening consists of a dinner with all Ivano-Frankivsk co-workers on the SoftServe-DDM team ( and the girls, of course ) at a steakhouse called Rondel.

Day 74:

Our last day in Ivano-Frankivsk is mostly spent working with a final stop at Desyatka before leaving. We board a train just before 21:00 and arrive in Chernivtsi 90 minutes later around 22:30. The time in-between is spent playing cards — specifically Crazy 8’s ( which is the game Uno is based on ).

It’s always good to have a deck of cards in your bag. Trust me.

It’s sad to leave Ivano-Frankivsk behind, just as it was sad to leave Lviv behind, but I am excited to experience Chernivtsi and what it has to offer. The only thing bad about going to Chernivtsi is that it marks the point where I have only two weeks left in Ukraine. I’m running out of time.

I want to stay longer. It’s going to be hard to leave.

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