Leopolis Semper Fidelis!

To start with, Lviv is a city that had been repeatedly Polish, now is Ukrainian, and was founded by King of Rus – Daniel Halicki. The city was often plundered in its heyday, also often the destruction of Lviv was avoided by paying ransoms. Different sources give different versions of Lviv’s origins and the origin of its name. Lviv’s name supposedly comes from the name of the King Daniel’s son – the Lev. However, one of the legends has it that Lev owes his name to the Daniel Halicki’s victory over a wild lion which lived on the mountain near the end of today’s street Krivonos. Another legend puts a dragon in the lion’s place, and at the top of the mountain on which it was slain the St. George’s Cathedral was built up.

Although today the city is not quite in its top form, it’s full of magic and charm. I do not know whether this is due to the rich history that is impregnated in every brick in Lviv, or perhaps by polite people in this city. There is one thing to be sure of – everyone should at least once in their life visit this city.

Our yellow marshrutka, in the usual weekday overcrowding, took us to Lviv Central Railway Station. It turns out that it was built at the time when Lviv belonged to Poland. The station is a beautiful building, both outside and inside. Ceilings and walls are decorated with stucco, from high arches supported by columns dangle large chandeliers. To my disappointment, it appears that the interior of the Ukrainian railway stations, in accordance with the law, should not be photographed – hence I was forced to give up on the pleasure of perpetuating the interior of that building in photographies. Fortunately, I could take from the outside as many photos as I wanted!

Lviv Main Railway Station Today
Lviv Main Railway Station today…

…and in the past (source: wikipedia.pl)

All that was left for us to do was to go to our hostel.

We stayed for one night in situated in the town center Mister Hostel. This place had everything one may need – toilet separate from the bathroom, nice rooms, kitchen, friendly, competent, and willing to help staff. The view from the window was breathtaking, but the biggest shock was yet to come in a form of a A4 informational poster hung on a wall in front of the toilet seat. It informed that toilet paper should not be placed into the toilet but in a specially prepared bin. It turns out that the pipes in Ukraine have a smaller diameter than those in Poland and toilet paper just clogs them up, as well as other personal hygiene products that some people tend to flush in the toilet (such as sanitary napkins and diapers, as the poster suggested).

View from our hostel in Lviv
The view from our hostel’s window

Lviv is full of monuments. On the way to the hostel we passed many historic sites and monuments. Among them were beautiful and majestic Lviv Polytechnic, commanding respect Church of St. Olha and Elizabeth, and the controversial monument of Stepan Bandera – the creator of the OUN-B, one of the organizations that contributed to the genocide of Polish civilians living in Ukraine. Of course, we didn’t miss the market, Dominican Church, Nikifor Krynicki’s monument – one of the best-known artists, representatives of primitivism, and Lemko.

In Lviv modernity mingles with history. Pedestrian crossings and traffic lights are equipped with clocks that inform pedestrians and drivers about how long they have to wait for the next green light, and how long it will last. At the same time through the streets are speeding dilapidated Volgas, Kamazes, UAZes and other cars that are nowadays rather rare and unusual in Poland.

I noticed that Ukrainian women are not high, tend not to overuse make-up – they are natural. I could not judge their beauty, but thanks to my male friends I received confirmation on the fact that Ukrainian girls are nice. From my observations I will add that they have very thick and fluffy hair. Most Ukrainian girls wear furs. Even young girls have foxes attached to the collars of their jackets, and I’m not talking just about the skin of a fox – from the collars there are hanging also the feet, tail and head of the animal. It was not to my liking, but, apparently, someone’s taste should not be discussed. Also, to my disappointment, I did not see any handsome men, while my companions could enjoy the view of nice women…

Daniel Halicki in Lviv, Ukraine
Monument to King Daniel Halicki

In the evening, tired after almost a day-long walk through the city, we decided to drink a beer or two. Beer in Lviv turned out to be cheap and tasty, one can get it straight from the wooden barrels in the pub “Żywe Piwo” run by Russians. Unfortunately, most pubs in Lviv, at least in April, are closed later in the evening during the week. We found it out, however, only when we got hungry. We were ready to eat even some kebab, but it was pointless to look for such a place in Lviv. Only two places were opened during the evening.

The first place was a nationalist bar, which one could enter only after giving a secret password. One of our colleagues asked two beautiful, young Ukrainian girls who spoken English quite well (at this point it is worth noting that English speakers are only few in Ukraine) about the secret password – it was “Herojam Slawa” (Glory to Heroes), which raised a lot of suspicions in half of our party. However, Łukasz and I insisted that during our second stay in Lviv we will visit the nationalist bar – we would have not been ourselves if we did not check what was it like, even if only the two of us had to go there.

In the second pub, under the cool name “Rurmajster”, it was much safer. It was decorated like an old cellar with barrels, wooden bar, and a mass of pipes with a leaky faucet. I must admit that I have never seen such a creatively decorated room (maybe except odd bars in Japan, but they are more odd than interesting). In “Rurmajster” we ordered their specialty – strudels. The strudels served there were not the strudels that everyone imagines – with apples and cinnamon. One could order strudels with spinach and chicken, or salmon, as well as sweet ones with cheese and fruit. Each filling was wrapped in golden and thin as a sheet of paper cake.

Probably the best known Polish song about Lviv 🙂

After supper (strudels and tea) we finished sightseeing in Lviv and came back to the hostel. On the next day we had to wake up early, as a full of wonders 24-hour journey in an Ukrainian train awaited us. The only thing that could beat this experience is a journey on the same train, but with a herd of Ukrainian students… You will have the opportunity to discover the magic of the Ukrainian train for yourselves in the next post!

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