Lviv made me start dreaming. About the past, present and the future. ETP - Miriam Jøms reports from Lviv, Ukraine.
After some days in Kiev was I delighted to finally find a smaller city, where you actually are able to get around by your own feet. The best way to get to Lviv from Kiev is by train, either an overnight journey, as I did, or do the express at daytime. It takes around six hours. I was impressed by the high tech display in our compartment which even told me when the toilet was occupied.
My company this night was a young, English speaking couple, and another young man. The beautiful couple was so much in love, and on their way to Lviv only to celebrate the girl’s birthday, some days later. It was nice to small talk a bit before I comfortably fall asleep.
I love to travel independently, but at the same time, it was perfect to be picked up at the trainstation early next morning, and be taken to my destination. My company for the day in Lviv was Natalja, a local young woman, our local expert, with a lot of energy and information to share with me. We were walking for hours around in narrow streets, and observed cafes, a vintage hotel, museums and the old city wall. We were buying biscuits from an artistic painted van, and saw huge portraits from the Orange revolution outside the «Photo club cafee».
As we continued our walk towards Lviv`s famous Rynok Square, did my urge for a freshly brewed coffee escalate. I was in the right city, but I just missed their annual coffee festival! When I told people that I love coffee, they even named me a « coffee aficionado», and said that it’s because the air in this western city makes people sleepy, and the result is that they drink a lot of coffee. So, if you are of the same kind of person as me, you don’t feel alive before you had a cup of brown gold, then you should consider Lviv as your next place to visit!
Lviv a charming city with approximately 1 million in population, and it feels like people of the city is constantly moving around. It makes the city feel alive, among the beautiful buildings in the mix of European influence and 200 years old architecture. To find your favorite place to stay in Lviv should not be difficult, it offers everything from fancy chain hotels, to independent vintage hotel, and private guesthouses, where elements from 100 years back is still present, like quality wooden floors and a stove in mint colored tiles. Your preferences should be easily to meet in Lviv.
The city is also like a fairy tale when it comes to concept restaurants and cafes. Kryyivka Restaurant had no signs, so apparently you just have to know about it. We knocked at a wooden door and a man who smelled authority in his green uniform asked us a question about nationality, and he let us in. We went down the stairs and another solider was waiting for us in the cellar, where the light was red and the roof covered with photos on textiles of the soldiers from the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). Quite interesting.
Another outstanding place was a small cafe, with a dark blue painted wall and a portrait of the Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki, originally from Ukraine, but more known for opening the first cafe in Vienna serving coffee from left over coffee beans from the Turkish.
The most different place to enjoy your meal was maybe Masonic Restaurant in honor to Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, the author of “Venus in furs”. Just a short look inside presented us for a delicate, though different restaurant, with red lights, wall decorations of intimate body parts, whips and leather strings. Not even the waitress had a normal uniform, but corset and stockings. If this would be too much for you, I would recommend you to rather visit the well-known Lviv chocolate factory next door.
The city is listened a UNESCOS World Heritage list, and really worth a visit. All the Ukrainian people I met got stars in their eyes when they started talking about the Christmas celebration in Lviv. It starts the 7th of January, and all over the city will you hear choirs singing and groups of people conducting traditional plays in the streets. Get in the spirit here with Carol of the Bells. The traditional Christmas dinner, is supposed to be an experience as well, 12 different dishes is the norm!
I have already started dreaming about visiting a real old fashion Christmas market and gathering outside the big church where 30 choirs are all preforming Christmas carols together, and the citizens of Lviv is meeting outside the church in front of the big fires and widescreens, enjoying a cup of a warm wine….
You are welcome to join!
- Miriam Jøms, In Lviv Ukraine