Day 1 – [Excerpt]
The city of Lviv (or paraphrasing its name in Ukrainian, The Lion’s City), as I have seen it in winter, greatly reminded me of several famous cities of Central and Eastern Europe that I have been to, such as Prague and Saint Petersburg. At the same time, it has many features that make this western Ukrainian city unique. Lviv is rather small, though rich with monuments; as a result, you literally cannot make a single step without running into the next attraction.
Dominican CathedralThe historical center, if it had no places of interest, could be crossed in no time; however, you will need at least four days to get superficially acquainted with it. But let me tell you everything in order. The first thing that caught my eye was the architecture. Perhaps, for those who have traveled across Europe, it could seem less unique, but I was astonished, though I am a beat-up traveler. The reason for my surprise is that Lviv’s houses breathe with antiquity: the city isn’t so restored as Prague, for instance, but accurate. So, while walking the streets, you will repeatedly catch yourself imagining you got into the 17th century somehow; many regular buildings in Lviv are at least 2-3 centuries old. I got one of my first bright impressions about Lviv almost immediately after my arrival, walking around the city center early in the morning, searching for a hostel to check into. The weather was foggy, and after turning the next corner, I suddenly ran into the amazing Tower of Kornyakt, named after a Greek merchant who built it in the second half of 1570s. The feeling I got was that the Tower swam out of the mist, appeared from nowhere, ancient and mysterious.
Tower of KornyaktAfter walking around the city and getting cold, I finally found a place to settle down for a couple of days: a cheap but tidy hostel in the center of Lviv. I was striving to take a more detailed look at the city, but the battery in my camera somehow appeared to be discharged. So I used the time while they were charging to have a nap, and in an hour and a half I finally went out, carrying a tourist map with me. Besides architecture, which I will review in details a bit later, I must emphasize two other phenomenons that caught my attention in Lviv: the number of themed cafes and restaurants, and extremely polite and affable people. As for the cafes, they can be safely considered a hallmark of the city; looking back, I can tell you that you can hardly find two cafes in Lviv that would be at least remotely similar to each other. During my first day, I visited the renowned “House of Legends,” where each floor and each dining hall is dedicated to their own themes.
House of Legends RooftopThe atmosphere inside was cozy, though there were lots of tourists like me, dropping in to take a picture. My advice: if you want to enjoy a beautiful cityscape, climb to the roof of this restaurant at sunset; sitting there with a glass of wine and watching the sun roll behind ancient roofs was a remarkable experience for me. People in Lviv are friendly; you can always count on help, even if you don’t know Ukrainian. The people I was talking to knew English quite well—knowledgeable enough to explain to me where I could go and what to see. Even individuals who didn’t speak a word in English (mostly elderly people) still tried to help me out, using gestures, loud articulation, and laughter, which was funny both for me and for them. Many townsmen smiled without any obvious reason, though I arrived in Lviv the day before Christmas, so maybe this was the reason of the peoples’ uplifted mood.