Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lviv, Ukraine II

I had no idea what to expect in Lviv. After our train ride experience from Budapest to Lviv, I wasn't expecting much. The first time we headed out into the streets to do some exploring I was in awe. I don’t know if it was because I had my expectations so low or if it’s just because I have a little too much Ukrainian pride but everything looked so… European and had so much character. The best thing of all--I could understand everyone around me and read all (most) of the signs. Julia and I had a great time walking all the streets, looking at all the shops, restaurants and cafes. The food was just like eating at my mom's or grandma's… or close enough.

The architecture and the buildings were beautiful. I was expecting a lot of communist style concrete block-type buildings but every building had character and lots of decorative details that you would expect on buildings in Budapest and Paris. The church buildings were beautiful on the outside and the interiors were quite amazing as well. There are very few tourists. The company had to call in a tour guide from home to give us a walking tour around the city. We were the only ones there and they only do a tour once a week. Lviv is hosting the UEFA Euro 2012 Championships (and the city is trying to shape up in time for the event) so I don’t think Lviv will be under the radar for much longer. If you have the opportunity, check out this city before it gets too touristy.

In the photos below, you will see a peculiar little "flying car" with a propeller on top. We found it on the roof of one of the (many) quirky cafes in town. The place is called Дім Легенд or House of Legends. Its a colorful cafe built inside a rickety old building with several stories and narrow stairs that wind up. The cafe has a variety of rooms, each entirely transformed into a theme, and you can choose to sit at a table in whichever room you fancy. There's a Room of Lions, a Room of Clocks, Room of Cobblestones, Room of Ancient Defense, Room of Toys, Room of Stinky River, and the Library Room (where we got cozy with our coffee and cake). Each of these rooms are based on something interesting or historical about the city of Lviv and each is well decked out with decor and props. On the top floor you can exit outside onto the roof top, where you will find all kinds of nonsense--the flying car, a little bronze leprechaun of some sort, a wishing well, and a chimney that you can climb into for a better view of the city. The rooftop is the only place where photos are permitted, thus that's all you'll see. The House of Legends is a new cafe that opened in Spring of 2010, so if you've been to Lviv, you have to go again just to check this place out. You can find the silly place by looking for a dragon and a clock on the side of the building (which breathes fire at a certain time each day... 9pm we think, but we never actually witnessed it). 

The bad thing about Lviv, you ask? Well, it was way too cold for us Seattleites and we didn’t have any fur to wear. 

- Yuriy

P.S. If you've been wondering what we packed in our luggage, check back tomorrow morning for a detailed post Julia has worked really hard on. 

We stumbled upon a great gallery showing the work of Sergey Maximishin.