On my way back from China in 2002 I'd stopped for a couple of days in Warsaw. This time, I started here because flights were much cheaper than flights to Kiev, and I thought it would be nice to start somewhere familiar.
I only spent a short time in Warsaw. I bought a ticket to Lviv, departing that evening, so I just went for a tired walk up to the old town. I walked via the Saski Gardens and Castle Square under grey skies, and found the experience a bit like intense déjà vu.
At 6.15pm I got on the train to Kraków, from where I'd pick up a connecting train to Przemyśl and then another to Lviv. I fell asleep almost straight away but woke briefly to see a beautiful sunset as we sped south. On the train from Kraków to Przemyśl I met two other travellers and chatted to them as we headed east. At Przemyśl we changed trains for a sleeper, and I was happy to get a little bit of sleep. This was interrupted only by the border crossing, where my battered passport, already veteran of 24 countries, caused a bit of consternation. "What has happened to your passport?", demanded the woman checking it, sternly. For the sake of brevity I skipped stories of Patagonian rain and Atacaman sand, and said I had accidentally laundered it. "Only once?", she asked, with a raised eyebrow and a smile. With that she stamped my passport and I was in Ukraine. It was 2am.