On the ends of the World (Europe really), we tend to find some of the most interesting countries just like Belarus or Finland, that I have already written about. This one is just not short of nice surprises. Surprised because whenever I mention it or show people around me the photos or footage, they struggle to believe that this country can be this "travel-worthy" yet not known as much. Initially called Kyivan Rusm they have controlled a large part of Eastern Europe until the Mongols invasion. They also were quite pivotal to the former USSR as their men held a key role in helping the Soviets defeat the German army in World War II. Despite gaining their independence from the USSR in 1991, Russian is very much spoken in the country to this day.
One key characteristic I have noticed with a lot of former members of the USSR, having now seen all of them, is the overhead cables across the city. On some occasions, it is the electricity feed for the buses however for the other parts of the cities, I just do not know what is their use.
For some reason, this side of Lviv very much reminds me of Budapest. I have noticed that every time I visit a country, I tend to see another country in it. Like St Petersburg, in Russia, looks like a blown-up version of Amsterdam and this side of Lviv looks like Prague to a certain extent.
I love traveling in my mind while traveling and finding a connection between different parts of the world, all to say, we are all the same in actual fact.
Some may hate Ryanair as bad but these guys have helped see almost the whole of Europe. Also, I benefited from London being a hub with frequent flights to every destination on the continent.
Useful facts :
✈️A London to Lviv flight cost me £67 and takes a little over 2 hours
🏠 Hotels and Airbnb cost around 700UAH/night (£18/€21/$27)
🚗 A rental car goes for £57 for the 3 days
💶 The currency is the Ukrainian Hryvnia (UAH) and the conversion rate is GBP/UAH = 37¦EUR/UAH = 33¦USD/UAH = 28)
🗣 The official language is Ukrainian however Russian is also understood. My English did not get me anywhere so I just used sign language where applicable and use Google to find my way.
⛅️ Temperatures stay above 18°C between May and September and dip to single digits outside of that time period
⏱ The time zone is GMT+3 and they do observe daylight saving
🍔 Food is relatively cheap and I was spending less than £20 per day
Welcome to Ukraine! 🇺🇦
Where to stay?
I have|stayed at the Three Crown Hotels during and enjoyed their "compact" service as they aim to keep all the amenities in-house. It is also very close to most of the city landmarks.
The rooms are quite spacious and the value for money is almost too good to be true...
The restaurant is also on the ground floor, through a separate door, and has a nice selection in the menu and live music coming in as a complimentary treat.
Credit: Three Crown Hotel
But being able to speak or read Ukrainian goes a long way so makes sure you learn a few words as the staff also had very little no English. But it is for the tourist to adjust to the country they visit than the other way around...
I have managed to stay away from the large hotel groups this time around so happy I followed my own advice. 😄
I have only visited Lviv but think there was a handful to see and stuck to it. Although I prefer to stay away from capitals, I was a bit tempted to go on a road trip to Kyiv but convinced myself not to. I probably missed out but since there is only one way to find out, it may be for another day.
Lviv High Castle
This is is a historic castle located on the top of a hill looking over the city of Lviv. The spot is now the ruins of a castle built in 1250 and has survived multiple demolitions overtime.
It is now a famous spot to watch sunsets and life happen from all sides of the city.
The 413m above the sea level also offers an unobstructed 360° view of the city.
PS: This is the face I made when I leaned against the railing and felt I was going to go overboard🤭
I am nobody to claim anything but I don't think you can say you have been to Lviv without visiting Rynok Square. It has been at the core of the city's activities since the 13th century and has since then, managed to keep its role in the affairs of the city. It has served through the years as the trading hub and also home to the government buildings.
Today, it is the main attraction but not just for tourists as even the locals flock towards it in masses...
The vintage feel of the trams is just refreshing. Where old and new, live together ...
And of course, I always find the quietest places to take my photos...
There are loads of things to do at the square with loads of street performers or food available in addition to being a nice walk on a sunny day.
Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki Monument
This monument is named after a Polish diplomat who has been a hero of the bottle of Vienna in 1683 and also the pioneer in the coffee-making business. He is known to have opened the first cafe in Vienna by using coffee beans left behind by the retreating Ottoman Turks.
Although the chap claimed Polish citizenship, he was born in Ukraine and if he the man history claims him to be, he is quite a legend for starting the first cafe. Starbuck and Costa Coffee can thank him for paving the way.
Khram blazhennykh muchenykiv ukhts
I initially went for a walk in Stryiskyi park and while trying to find my way back, came up to this nice church. I have no idea what her history is but I love the Chinese Gōng feel to it and she clearly stands out from most of the churches I have seen around the city. It changes from the cement buildings and the colourful domes that are more popular in the former USSR zone.
You often have these unexpected encounters when you take a random walk and follow no given route. Getting lost is not always a bad thing.
Because I am so random, I parked the car and decided to use public transport on my way to the tunnel of love. I almost changed my mind after waiting for over 40 minutes, before I saw a bus coming my way. Some of these roads leading towards the outside of the city.
It helps to learn about the timetable before setting off - Something to remember for my next trip...
The tunnel of love
This normally is a railway linking the Klevan (where I waited for so long). It probably is the shortest train track you know as it only stretches over 6km and tends to look like a green corridor in summer. Even though it is still in use (although quite lightly), people do enjoy a walk by the tracks and take photos or just being daredevils.
There is a real train behind me...
But I feel comfortable enough to take a photo...
Apparently, the train does not pass by often so it was purely a stroke of luck that it was crossing at the time I was taking my photos.
Ukraine was very much of an interesting encounter for me as I got to see first-hand how life has evolved since the USSR days. As always, I would always recommend people to go visit countries I write about but would also suggest enough research is done in order to make the trip smoother. Being self-reliant in front of the unknown is something one would need to be able to make the best of Ukraine or at least Lviv. Once again, thank you very much for reading me.
Until next time...