A Travellerspoint blog

Ukraine

L’viv

sunny 80 °F

L’viv

A month in Lviv is not too long for a visit - unless you are young and looking for an exciting adventure, a few days here should be enough. Me however, I’m not so young and just wanted to enjoy a beautiful city center with inexpensive food and drink. I actually could have easily stayed another month because I have a son who lives here so it’s also a personal gift to spend time with him and his girlfriend. I have the privilege of time, so staying in one place for this long does not take away from the rest of my adventure.

A perfect day for me was strolling through one of their beautiful parks, enjoying a beer (for a buck) and people watching. Appreciating a fantastic meal and walking through the city center listening to music from people on every corner. Did I mention that you can enjoy a beer for a buck! :)

There are plenty of sights to see and the weather can be unpredictable at times, so if you have time, spend at least a week here. August 24th is Ukrainian Independence Day

so it was a bit more crowded and hectic but it’s a beautiful thing to see people proud to wear traditional clothing while dancing and singing traditional songs.

Most people would go to Kiev when visiting Ukraine and yes, Kiev is the capital so it is a must see, but if you had to choose between Kiev and Lviv, definitely choose Lviv.

The negatives of Lviv are few, but they are substantial.

1. The airport is not big, therefore flying in and out, you are limited and usually will have to make a couple of stopovers to accommodate your next destination.
2. The food is excellent but your choices are limited. Don’t even try the Mexican food here.
3. Things are cheaper than most other countries and you are tempted to buy, buy, buy, but your luggage has limited space, such a conundrum.
4. The Ukrainian International Airlines suck! If at all possible, fly on another carrier. They will cancel flights and it’s too bad for you. They are not held to the European standard therefore you are screwed. Sure, their website states they will be responsible for cancelled flights and will accommodate your inconvenience but don’t believe what you read. They are cheap in every possible way. They will nickel and dime you to death. Yes, I have stories but all you have to do is watch their customers go back and forth paying for every little misstep. I feel sorry for the employees who have to put up with the customers who have been ambushed.
5. So this is a little thing, but drove me bonkers. They are constantly stealing your napkins. Yes, I’m complaining about how the restaurant staff is overly attentive. It’s just such a waste, I can use the same napkin for more than 5 minutes. :)

Lviv 101
Jetsetalona

Rynok (Market) Square
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Lviv random photos
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Drinking in the rain
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Grandmas making a living
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Musicians, live bands and performers
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Independence Day Festival
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The Lviv Opera House is built in a Neo-Renaissance style, which combines the elements of Renaissance, Baroque and Classicism. The facade of the theatre is splendidly decorated with allegorical sculptures of muses, Corinthian columns, niches, balustrades.
On the top of the façade, you could see two allegoric bronze sculptural groups, which symbolize Drama, Comedy, and Music. In the center a sculpture of Glory with a palm branch is placed.
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Ivan Franko National University of Lviv
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Ivan Franko Park (My favorite people watching park)
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In 2005, the Lviv brewery - the oldest one in Ukraine - turned 290 years old; on this occasion a Brewery Museum was opened on its territory. Where every beer lover can approach the mystery of the birth of a beverage.
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Shevchenkivsky Hai (Shevchenko Valley), is probably the best place for relaxation, education and entertainment in Lviv. In a couple of hours you can learn more about lifestyle of Ukrainian villagers through exploring over a 100 of wooden village houses, churches and everyday household items.
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Lychakiv Cemetery
The famous Town of Dead was built in 1786 and is the last refuge for almost 300,000 people. Among them are renowned Ukrainian poets, artists and politicians.
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Janowska Concentration Camp

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Olesko Castle, an important architectural monument of the XIV-XVII centuries. Polish king John III Sobieski was born there, and often visited this fortress later and collected a great number of works of art.

Zolochiv Castle, built in XVII century.

Pidhirtsi Castle – a splendid example of the Renaissance architecture.

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Posted by joannereyes 04:05 Archived in Ukraine Comments (0)

Odessa

85 °F

We had a great time in Odessa, so much nicer than Kiev. The city is definitely a tourist town catering to everyone. Of course we still had our personal tour guide Alona so once again not much thinking on our part of where to go and what to see. She has definitely spoiled us, something we can easily get used to. One of the things I liked about this city is how they are renovating the old buildings keeping the beautiful architecture instead of knocking them down and rebuilding which would be much cheaper and faster. Walking along the pedestrian walkway at night was reminiscent of an amusement park with the carnival games and the street performers who were very talented. There aren’t too many historical sights to see so this was more of a laid back, relaxing part of our vacation which is always a happy time for me. ?

The weather was fantastic and the food was great and reasonably priced.

In my last post of Kiev, I purposely didn’t mention the crazy driving habits, but after more scary episodes I felt it was time to tell all. Was I scared? Yes. But I was more amazed that I didn’t see more accidents or cars with dents.

You know what red lights are in Ukraine? Suggestions (courtesy of C.P.S.)
You know what pedestrians are in Ukraine? Targets
You know what traffic lines in the road are in Ukraine? Abstract Art

We part ways with Cody and Alona for a few weeks as we travel in different directions but will meet up with them in Montenegro. It’s fun traveling with family so we are excited that we will see them again soon. We are also excited that Chad has a week off of school and will spend time with us in Florence, Italy. Yay, the entire family together for a week in October.

The Potemkin Stairs, or Potemkin Steps, is a giant stairway in Odessa, Ukraine. The stairs are considered a formal entrance into the city from the direction of the sea and are the best known symbol of Odessa
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Pryvoz Market
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Monument to Steve Jobs
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Building renovation
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Pedestrian walkway
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Posted by joannereyes 10:59 Archived in Ukraine Comments (1)

Kiev

85 °F

This city has a way to go before it becomes a true tourist stop. Some buildings in the old part of town are nice, but most have been destroyed so what’s left is the 60’s era communist style. We took a tour of Saint Sophia's Cathedral, which was amazing and interesting, but the highlight of Kiev was our visit to Viktor Yanukovych Presidential Palace. The grounds were spectacular but the palace was more of a cabin design which we found a little odd. There were gorgeous chandeliers and the craftsmanship of the woodwork was amazing. The facility included a sports complex (with a 4 lane bowling alley, boxing ring, indoor/outdoor tennis courts), medical facility, spa, movie theater, church, 3 dining rooms, a zoo and much more. Of course that all came at the cost of the Ukrainian people. In February 2014 Yanukovych was removed from office as a result of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution. He is currently in exile in Russia and wanted by Ukraine for high treason. Along with billions of dollars that he stole from the Ukrainian people, he also stole the artwork off the walls of the palace when he escaped to Russia.

The food here is excellent and cheap, and that’s always a good combination. We were able to enjoy our visit because of our personal tour guide Alona. You can see and learn so much more when a local takes you around their city explaining everything. A true gift, thank-you Alona.

The day we got to Kiev they were cleaning up from a terrible rain storm the day before (flooded underground, lots of broken tree limbs and debris) but the city was quick about cleaning it up. The day we left we were caught in a downpour as we walked to the train station and got soaked, even our clothes inside our luggage were wet, but C’est la vie. A part of the adventure we could have done without is when Mitch fell victim to food poisoning. So a piece of advice for fellow travelers, don’t assume that the country has a terrible tasting soft serve chocolate ice cream when in fact, that sour taste in the ice cream is just bad cream. Live and learn the hard way. ?

The Motherland Monument
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Independence Monument in the background
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The People's Friendship Arch

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Park of Eternal Glory
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Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev is an outstanding architectural monument of Kievan Rus'. The cathedral is one of the city's best known landmarks and the first heritage site in Ukraine to be inscribed on the World Heritage List
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Yanukovych Presidential Palace
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Appetizers checkers ?
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Posted by joannereyes 02:03 Archived in Ukraine Comments (0)

Lviv

An old town or a theme park? Can it be both? Old Town Lviv is fun, whimsical, pretty, and most importantly inexpensive. Drinks are cheap, food is cheap and every themed shop is free, that is until you buy their merchandise which is why you get in for free. The verdict is still out on how they come up with some of their more kooky ideas, (a coffee shop that has you mining for coffee beans) is it creativity or alcohol consumption? I say it’s creativity with a vodka chaser. Oh, and it is beautiful!

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Posted by joannereyes 15:52 Archived in Ukraine Comments (0)

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