Ukraine. What do you know about this country? I am sure recently you must have heard some unpleasant news about unrest and war in Ukraine. Apart from that Ukraine is a homeland of two well-known brother boxers – Klichko and the winner of Eurovision - Ruslana. In 2012 Ukraine was honored to host an extremely important tournament – UEFA EURO2012.
Ukraine is my motherland, a very unlucky land that has been always teared to pieces by more powerful countries. Ukrainian nation had been suffering for centuries from an oppression and numerous attempts to erase its culture, language and ethnicity. Nevertheless, Ukrainians survived and saved their unique cultural legacy. Actually right now my nation is as strong as never before a resistance against invasion of an imperialistic Russia will lead to a victory of reunited nation and true independence of Ukraine. Through pain and blood we are going to thrive in a liberty and a cultural flourishing.
But today I want to take you to a cultural capital of Ukraine – Lviv. If you want to experience a true Ukrainian tradition – come here. It is the biggest city in the western part of Ukraine and is the center of region Galicia. It looks more European then the rest of the cities of Ukraine and there is a reason for that. For a long time is has been a part of Polish Kingdom and then Austria-Hungary. In 20th century there was an attempt to create an independent Ukrainian state with the center in Lviv but Poland and Soviet Union could not let it happen at that stage. It became a part of an Independent Ukraine only in 1990.
The central part of Lviv is a maze of cute streets with colorful slightly worn buildings. Think twice before wearing high heeled shoes in Lviv as it is quiet dangerous on hilly uneven paved roads, although local girls and women somehow manage to walk elegantly and quickly on their high heels. On the first floor of old houses you will be welcomed to taste the traditional drink of Lviv – coffee. You won’t be able to waste much of your time in clothes shops as there are not so many of them. Instead Lviv offers a huge variety of restaurants, cozy cafes, bakeries and shops with Ukrainian crafts.
In 2007 a group of three enthusiasts founded the biggest in 2015 network of creative places in Lviv. These are theme restaurants with unusual atmosphere, design and product. Very well-known example is “Kryivka”, where at the entrance you are met with a gunmen from the times of World War Second, who asks a patriotic call sign and gives a shot of Gorilka (Ukrainian alcohol beverage) in case you are right. After that you are let into the bar that is decorated as a traditional place of hiding for local resistance forces in Galicia during WWII (which was dig in the ground and supported by wooden beams). There are tens of such places, including the Coffee Mine (a shaft where coffee is believed to be produced), there one can submerge into a darkness equipped with a helmet and torch and wander in labyrinth stuffed with small tables and bar counters. I should also mention an eccentric restaurant Mazoh decorated with sex toys, waiters of which can punish you with a lash (only if you are up for it).
There is an amazing collection of European and Ukrainian art in the National Lviv Gallery. Gorgeous churches of all ages with breathtaking interiors are open for visits. On the main avenue one can find a wonderful Opera House facing a beautiful fountain. It offers great concerts and plays all year round. In Lviv there are also concert halls and theaters, open art market and book market. There is also a hill called High Castle, if you climb it you will get a marvelous panoramic view on a city. Potocki Palace brings a French touch to the city as it is a copy of a French palace and it is open for tourists.
Many millions of tourists visit Lviv each year. Most of the people speak Polish and English. There are excursions, walking tours, bus tours and many other attractions. Anyone is ready to help you around. There is an Airport in Lviv, so pack your bag quicker and come to Lviv to taste coffee and get punished by cute Ukrainian waitress!