Springtime in the Ukrainain Carpathian Mountains

For the majority of my time in Ukraine, I've been dwelling in the Kansas-like steppe of the east, which seems to be geographically flatter than a freshly cooked blin (Russian crepe).  Once our May holidays rolled around, I couldn't wait to get back out to the bumpier parts of the country located out west in the Carpathian mountains.  A 30-hour slow, Soviet train ride, quick rest in Lviv, two trains that never showed due to an accident, about 5 hours of waiting in a train station, and a last-minute 6-hour bus resulting in 48 hours of travel time was all it took to cross this country (basically, the time I could have flown to the States and back...twice!), but once I arrived in the cool mountain air, blooming flowered trees, and deep in the essence of "real" Ukraine, it was all worth it:

I was able to get in a couple of really nice solo mountain hikes while I was in the area and, as it's still a bit on the fringes of tourist season, I had them mostly to myself (but not without a few necessities for the mountains in this area):

Of course, I stayed once again with our Ukrainian family at On the Corner B&B in Kolomiya.  It was so good seeing everyone one more time (the last time being our amazing Orthodox Christmas celebration), and I especially had a good time with Vitaliy and Anna on our little road trip through the area:

We made it to the early morning market in the little village of Kosiv, and it was the perfect way to spend a gorgeous Saturday morning in the mountains.  This market provides the culminating pulse for the surrounding villages as a place to buy and sell house goods, clothing, auto parts, fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy products, flowers, shoes, handicrafts, and even tombstones!  The energy here is fantastic:

Anna and I with bags of sheep cheese!

I can't seem to get enough of the country churches and colorful cottages, the pristine little farms, the women in traditional garb and headscarves, and the simple beauty of a place that is partially lost in time, and partially trying to jump into the present through tourism.

When Jacob and I were last here for Christmas in January, I fell in love with a batik painting that Vitaliy and Anna had from a local student artist from Kolomiya.  We ended up commissioning a batik of our own from her and it turned out just gorgeous!  I got to meet her mom (as the artist herself is currently at school in Poland), and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out:

A perfect representation to take home of everything that I love about the Carpathians all executed with some gorgeous dyes.  The photo really doesn't do the vivid colors justice:

For my last journey out West (at least on this Ukrainian adventure), I couldn't have asked for better weather, hiking, people, coffee, or conversation--the perfect getaway no matter how long it takes you to get there!