My maternal grandmother left her home shtetl, Bukaczowze, in what was Austria-Hungary and is now Ukraine, in 1910. When my friend and fellow genealogist, Lucille Gudis, suggested a trip to Ukraine together, I jumped at the chance to finally investigate my maternal roots.
After posting a message on JewishGen asking for recommendations for guides and receiving many replies, we decided to employ the services of Alexander Dunai, from Lviv. Alex met us at our first stop, Krakow, which was a sightseeing rather than genealogical stop for us.
From Krakow, we drove to Ukraine, passing through Rzeszow and Jaroslaw on our way to Lviv. Despite reading and hearing horror stories about Ukrainian border crossings, we went ahead after assurances from Alex that it would be fine. He recommended crossing on a Sunday when truck traffic would be light; the crossing, including leaving Poland and entering Ukraine, took twenty minutes. The entire trip took us about four and a half hours. It was a pleasant drive (in Alex’s comfortable VW station wagon) and much easier than the alternative of flying from Krakow to Warsaw and then Warsaw to Lviv. (There are no direct flights.)
Roads in both Poland and Ukraine, usually two lane but occasionally four lanes, are, for the most part, in reasonable repair. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that there were many modern service stations, which offered cafes, modern bathrooms, and, of course, gasoline and other car services, along the main roads. We did not encounter any of the travel troubles described by the pioneer genealogical travelers, such as police stops, no place to eat, no gasoline, and so on. (Our only encounter with less than wonderful plumbing, i.e., outhouses, was in the really small towns that were off the beaten track.)
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