Lviv, day 5
From the time I woke up at 09:00, I was excited that I’d be visiting Kate in the afternoon at the radio station where she’s been working as a DJ for the past eight years. She was a little hungover from the party last night, and she talked a lot, so her throat was a bit sore. But she made some oatmeal and got to it!
Before visiting her, I went to Veronica for lunch. It’s a bakery just down the street from the radio station. Their cakes looked like jewelry cases, and they also had ice cream. I stuck with the Veronica pizza (₴148 for a medium: ham, tomatoes, arugula, red bell peppers, and corn) and a slice of raspberry cottage cheese cake. The crust on the pizza was nice and crispy, but the tomato sauce made the middle soggy and easier to eat with a fork and knife. The cake had a pleasant, soft texture and wasn’t too sweet. (When I asked my waitress to recommend some traditional Ukrainian desserts, she had a hard time understanding that I was open to trying anything.)
For the first time since I left the States, I called my parents to wish my dad a happy Chinese father’s day. They sounded happy to hear that my trip was going well, and I’m looking forward to seeing them in New Zealand in November.
I found the radio station building easily and went upstairs without any challenge from security guards or mechanisms. Kate came to find me in the main staircase after a few minutes and led me to her studio. Her colleague with whom she usually works called in sick today, so I got to pretend to be her co-host.
Being a radio DJ seems like a cool job. She queues up MP3s of music to play, and she does brief segments on pop news and commercials every once in a while. There are computer screens all over, some of which are mirrored so that co-hosts sitting across from each other can see what’s on each other’s screens. But it can get routine after eight years and no clear path for growth. I hope she can discover a way to invigorate her enthusiasm for radio or spin it in a new direction.
She did a guest interview with a horticulturist who works with landscape architects and green projects, and her colleague Julia came in every hour, on the hour to present a quick news update. Taras arrived at 18:00 to take the next shift, and Kate went upstairs to do some voice-over work for advertising. I went to World of Coffee to hang out until she wrapped up all her work. Since it was already evening, I got a Chemex brew (₴55 for the smaller size).
Some random local sat down at the table next to mine and asked if I wanted to have some pu-erh tea he ordered. I politely declined, but he insisted and kept talking to me about how enthusiastic he is about martial arts. So I invited him to sit at my table and continue chatting. He’s a pharmacist by day and coaches locals in martial arts a few days a week. He seemed slightly disappointed that I was not born and raised in China, but he still told me, “If I were a younger man, I’d ask you to be my wife.” Sure, that’s not awkward. He has a weird idea of what is considered old: he’s 36. I guess I just look a lot younger. I waited for Kate with just a touch of anxiety, but it was nice to learn about the Carpathian Mountains from him and how they are famous for their cheese and wine. In fact, he recommended that I return in August or September when they have a festival in the mountains to celebrate these delicious things.
Kate came to fetch me closer to 21:00, and we walked to Bierlin Lemberg to meet up with her friends visiting from Kiev. Both Oleh and Stan work at the Kiev SoftServe office on the Red Hat contract and brought their respective significant others (Katrin and Maryna) with them on their business trip to meet with team members in Lviv. Eugene, one of Oleh’s local Lviv friends, also joined us. Everyone had beer except me and Kate: we had very tasty kvas instead (₴12 for 0.5L). I also ordered the cheese varenyky (₴28), which was filling but got old after I’d eaten half of them.
Maryna is Armenian, and she and Stan lived in Brno for half a year to study at the engineering school. But it was a depressing time in their lives because they studied during all of their waking hours and didn’t even have time to visit Vienna.
Through their basic Japanese ability, I learned that Eugene and Oleh both enjoy watching Anime, so I asked them about a few series and movies that I’ve enjoyed. Eugene even likes “Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei”. I need to watch “Elfen Lied” since this is the countless time someone has recommended it to me.
Bierlin Lemberg closed at 23:00, so we moved on to Kupitsa, which has a large array of infused vodkas. I was disappointed when they said they didn’t have the sea buckthorn flavor, so I resorted to the grapefruit with barberry instead (₴18). It was a bit too sweet, but the effect was mitigated because it’s just downed as a shot.
After midnight, we all said good night. Before we went took even five steps, Kate and I ran into Julian on the street! He was with his mom and a friend. I wished him well and hoped that he’d be able to realize his dream to visit Asia soon.
Kate and I walked back to her place, and it didn’t seem so far especially with such great company (~30-40 minutes). She really loves her street because it’s so green, and her favorite park is conveniently next door. The playground area near her building has a wide-open view of the sky, and because it’s not polluted with much artificial light at night, you can see many stars. She really liked the Sky Guide app and appreciated the soft transitions of the constellations as they moved in and out of view. She’s a designer at heart.