Are we in Ukraine yet?? This place looks like Krakow !


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Europe » Ukraine » Lviv
October 15th 2011
Published: October 26th 2011
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We crossed the border in Medyka – on the main road from Przemysl to Lviv. There is a lot of information available on the crossing process and timing but it really depends on the day and hour. We have heard stories that some people were stranded for more than 20h only because they refused to pay 'a little benefit to the guard' . Unfortunately this ways have not changed since Soviet Time.

Initially we were supposed to drive with our parents to Lviv but after reading about these hours of ques we decided to take a direct bus (5 GBP each) as this way crossing is smooth and short. Planned journey time was 3h we made it in 4h so not that bad at all. Another way is to take an Intercity train (15-20GBP each) as they are on tight schedule and delays are minimal apparently. On the bus we met a group of Polish girls and boys going to Lviv for the weekend and they gave us a lot of handy information on where to get off the bus and what is worth to see. So if you take the same bus don’t stay in the bus till the last stop which is the bus station but ask the driver to stop at the outskirts of the town. The bus station is 5-6km away from the town center and it takes ages to get out of there. If you get off the bus earlier you can easily take local minibus cutely called Marshrutka and for 2 UAH (15p each) you will get to the town center. Same taxi journey would cost you up to 50 UAH (4GBP).

We asked local people to show us the bus stop near Opera House (as the most central) and from there we only had 5 min walk to our hostel (Cherry Hostel, 13 GBP for both of us, dorm). We were pretty happy with the place as location was fabulous and price/conditions ratio was good. Just the service was so-so to be honest. We were told that we can only stay one night even thought we booked two (and all Lviv's hostels were booked out) and we have to move to its sister hostel instead. All would be fine if not the fact that this place was completely opposite of the Cherry Hostel (far away from the main Rynok Square, worse conditions and at the same price). If not the fact that we had no other place to go we would have probably gone somewhere else. After one night in Apple Hostel we can honestly say that first impressions are not always right. The manager of this place went an extra mile to make our stay pleasurable. As there were only 6 people staying in, he distributed people between rooms so that we had the whole big room to our selves. There was newly decorated bathroom in each room with hot water all the time ( you would have to wait for it in Cherry Hostel as one bathroom per whole house and boiler couldn’t cope) and we also got an extra heating fan for the room to make sure we are warm. We also could leave our bags for the whole Sunday as we were going to Kiev on the night train.

First thing we had to do was to buy tickets for the onward train to Kiev. The nice express one (092 N) we had in mind was sold out and we had to compromise and take another one with only sleeping places available but for really silly price
Graves of Polish SoldiersGraves of Polish SoldiersGraves of Polish Soldiers

all together 2000 graves of 'Lviv's Eagles'
as for the 10h long journey – 74UAH (6 GBP each), But that was obviously not a problem. The problem for us was to find the train station. Sounds silly?? Yes it does but even with Ukrainians understanding Polish and vice versa we could not come to any understanding of what we are looking for. We were convinced that the train station is fairly close to the old town ( and it is true) as the map shows and as we have seen on the way to the center but no one was able to give us an exact direction how to get there. Finally after 2h of walking we ended up being told that train tickets can be also purchased at the “Miejska Kasa' which is like a ticket office in the city centre. It was literally 5 min walk from our hostel ! Ow well at least we had a dose of exercise hahha

After that we settle for a very nice meal in the budget yet original Puzata Khata that serves a buffet style selection of Ukrainian meals to choose from. It is really good value for money. We ended up paying 90 UAH ( 7 GBP) for 5-6 different dishes. They were not a size of a main dish but really enough to be full for long;-) Because of the long walk around the town we wasted all the time and energy and we did not really enjoy any sights. Next day we decided to stay in our hostel till 12 to take advantage of the WiFi before we move to another place. After switching places we were heading into the main market direction, admiring grand Opera House (admission 10UAH each) when we met this group of Polish folks again. What a surprise. We had a chat and they briefed us in on what they have seen already and showed us the direction to the Lychakivske Cemetery. This place is a very important for ever Pole coming to Lviv. There are people coming to Lviv only to visit this cemetery. It must sound weird to think of a grave land as a sigh or attraction but visiting a grave of a Polish novelists Maria Konopnicka or Gabriela Zapolska was quite something. We read their books all our childhood and it was king of touching. Besides this place is an excellent show of art. So many
Opera House in LvivOpera House in LvivOpera House in Lviv

the most central and grand building in Lviv
styles of architecture from small and simple graves, through statues and head sculptures to majesticalmost chapel look alike graves. But the most amazing for us and the most moving was the view of 2000 marble white graves of Polish soldiers from the I WW standing tall and straight one next to another. We walked between them reading names and rang of soldiers and some of them were only 15-16 years old. Heart breaking but made us proud as well as without boys and girls like those, Poland would not have gotten its freedom after over 100 years under occupation. There were also two respects paid to American and French Soldiers who fought and died for Poland. In our history we call all those heroes 'Eagles of Lviv' and this is how this cementary is commonly called between Poles.

As it was Saturday it was a day of wedding in Lviv. Ukrainian fashion is somehow in between Polish and Russian. Can be quite stylish but also striking and very in your face hahha So are the brides. Tomek once commented on the dress in the bridal shop that it looks like an underwear.... And it seems that the trend now
Writing from the war timeWriting from the war timeWriting from the war time

it is written: Eggs, Cheese, Diary etc.. must have been a grocery shop there;-)
is: shiny and very Cinderella like. So we were spotting these happy couples on every corner, walking funny through the roadworks of Lviv. As a woman I must admit I was impressed many times with the elegant style of woman of Lviv. Not only the all look like they just walked out of the catwalk but also have this really nice way of dressing and gracious behavior. The lifestyle seem to be so much different to what we have gotten to know in UK. People spend so much time outside in parks walking, playing cards of chess. Little and cute cafeterias of Lviv are full of couples drinking tea, Turkish coffee or shots of vodka with little canapes or red hearing pieces.

This place is so alike Krakow - Krakow 10 years ago when it was still in its refurbishment phase. There are roadworks everywhere and they are trying really hard to make it all up beautiful for the Euro 2012 Championships. There are churches on every corner. Similar architecture as in Krakow just most of them are Orthodox. Each of them is full of gold and wall fresco – amazing views if you like this kind of stuff. Streets are called by names of Polish writers, kings or heroes. The street around Main Square (Rynok) are called even the same as in Krakow i.e. Szewska street. When we passed through the Rynok we came across a parade of dressed - up people that looked like an II WW army. There were old machine guns, horses and even mobile kitchen serving traditional soldier food (Grochowka). Not to mention all the media coverage and paparazzi. We asked one of the reporters what is going on and we were told that this is an anniversary of creating UPA army which fought for the independence of Ukraine (against Nazi and Russians). It looked a bit like a theater play with the exception of pictures of men and women who died serving in UPA. Rynok also offers quite unique Pharmacy Museum with old lab, machines and shop; Black Mansion building stands out from the crowd that was built by one of the Italian Merchants in the XVI century as well as Masochrestaurant where you can be handcuffed and whiped after meal hahha We did not know that prior to our visit to Lviv that the guy who gave the beginning to masochist movement
Lviv's Stary RynokLviv's Stary RynokLviv's Stary Rynok

Main Square of Lviv
was born in Lviv. His bronze statue in front of the restaurant is very popular with tourists taking photos.

The big differnce between Krakow and Lviv is castle or rather lack of castle. There is a castle hill however that we managed to climb on for great views of Lviv. This is one of the main tourist attractions so don't expect to have any alone time there. You can cut the route the park instead of walking along side the main street if you feel like being away from crowds ( as we did). There is a little and cure church on the way up that we tought was very interesting. Also the fact that there are almost no foreign torurist in Lviv makes it quite easy to enjoy. Local cusine and menues as well as prices are not spoiled yet by the influence of the west which makes it quite oryginal place to visit and to enjoy.That is probably due to the fact that there is no cheap flight connection to Lviv hence only Russian, Polish and Ukrainian visitors may be spotted there.

We walked around, viewed every sight the tourist map mentioned and it was quite relaxing time for us. Big part of out trip there was of course food. We were trying to get the best value for money of course but also try some thing nice and different. We had a tea in one of the little cafeterias ( 'Kaba' on Krakovska street) that serves tea and coffee for 4UAH (0,30 GBP), delicious cakes (10 UAH) and shots of different types of alcohol. We checked old taverna at Rynkowa street that serves Ukrainian food and for snacks we had hot buns with meat and sausage (2-3 UAH each) that were incredibly tasty and kept us going for long. You can find them in many stands across the old town. We got to talk to a local woman selling snacks on the Rynok and she told us that for great food experience in town we have to look for Jewish Restaurant near by. She wasn’t able to tell us exactly where it was (or maybe she was saying but we could not understand exactly) so we were on the quest of finding this place before we leave Lviv. We found on the last day after walking around and asking different people on the street and
Pharmacy MuseumPharmacy MuseumPharmacy Museum

entrance sign
it was.... This place deserves a separate blog entry so till next one ;-)


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26th October 2011

Thank you!
Some lovely photos guys - you really captured Lviv's colours. And your writing is great too, especially the bit about Ukrainian wedding dresses! I haven't been to Lviv for a couple of years, I'm glad it's still in good health. Enjoy your travels...
6th November 2011

Glad you liked it ;-)
Lviv was fantastic we loved it, next time we stay for longer;-) cheers

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