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Published: September 7th 2016
Kiev and Lviv, Ukraine
Both are worth a visit, we're glad to have been here. Here's a summary of my feelings about the two cities after having visited St Petersburg and Moscow........very subjective after only a few days in all above.
Kiev is huge... the drive to the airport is testimony to that. There are lots of new giant apartment blocks just out of the centre, then older housing stock once you're 30 minutes further on as the suburbs continue ...... until you hit a very African feeling transport hub on the edge of town ...... Kharkivska. It has a great buzz about it, as if you could catch a bus to anywhere from there, but no one would be able to tell you which bus stop to wait at. Then there's a motorway through green fields with petrol garages and car franchises scattered along its length to the airport.
Lviv is also large, with a lot of older 19C housing on the outer ring. We didn't scratch the surface ....... but did find it a more graceful town that Kiev.
Kiev centre was a mish mash for me, plenty of impressive buildings but not a beautiful
place: no overall feel. And it differs from St Petersburg and Moscow in that it is built on hills, it's more of a sweat to get round. The metro is useful but continually packed with people.
Lviv centre is more coherent, much less impressive in scale than Kiev, but all the better for that. It has become so popular, mostly with Ukrainians, that it feels like one big food and drink pleasure ground. Thankfully waiters aren't aggressively recruiting you to their patch all the time.
All the streets are cobbled which gives charm. But some crumbling buildings and the age and decrepitude of the trolley buses and trams is evidence of a city that needs to plough tourist wealth back into its infrastructure.
The standard of museum curation in both towns is very poor compared to St P and Moscow, but there is a charm about the old creaky buildings they are housed within.
My interest in Art Nouveau, Secessionist, Modernisme architecture started travelling on the Danube in Vienna and Budapest in 2009, and was developed in Copenhagen, Helsinki, Riga etc around the Baltic two years ago. So I was pleased to find examples
in these two Ukrainian cities.... most reflecting a 'Barcelona Moorish' style of Art Nouveau... slightly less flowing than the Baltic buildings, a more formal, but still an elegant approach.
To travel through the countryside of Ukraine would give us a whole new insight as well.
Georgian cuisine is tops in Ukraine as well as in the Russian cities. And that's where we're going next.
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