Lviv – Ukraine
Lviv was very different to Odessa and Kiev. In fact it didn’t even feel like I was still in Ukraine. The city had a very European feel and was relaxed and friendly. Most people in Lviv speak Ukrainian so I barely heard a word of Russian during my time there.
I arrived in Lviv on the fast train from Kiev, the Intercity. It was a great train, clean and fast although I felt ill. I put this down to facing backwards for the 5 hour journey. I arrived around 22:30 hours and was disappointed to learn that the trams had already finished for the night! A ripoff taxi journey later and I reached the hostel.
I met up with a couple of Couchsurfers, who showed me around the city. I was taken to a place called Kryjivka, a bar where you have to knock on the door and pledge your allegiance to Ukraine in order to gain entry.
A small hatch opens and a man appears, in unform. After you say the words “Slava Ukraini” (Glory to Ukraine) he opens the door.
The bar is dedicated to people who lost their lives during the war against the Nazis and the Soviet Union.
I was also taken to the home of the famous Lviv chocolate. A building which houses the factory, shop and also a cafe.
After climbing the endless creaking stairs we reached the cafe and sat down ready to sample some chocolate. It was presented to me in a small cup, the idea is that you drink it and then wash it down with a glass of water.
It was very nice chocolate, although I’m sure it could soon upset your stomach if you have too much.
Lviv is also famous for its Christmas markets. People come from far and wide to witness the city lights and to checkout the market and festive activities. I had a walk around the various stalls, featuring home made goods, fridge magnets, cups and other souvenirs and lots of food and drink. I sampled the mulled wine but left the food alone due to my gluten intolerance.
I’m not a very Christmasy person but Lviv did do it very well and it was nice to see families out walking around and children enjoying the atmosphere.
I only spent a couple of days in Lviv because I was going to be heading home for Christmas and I wanted to spend 3 or 4 days in Krakow.