Lviv, Lwow, Lvov, Leopolis. The coolest city in Ukraine, no contest. It is the cultural capital of Ukraine, due to its breathtaking architecture, healthy emphasis on the arts, delicious food and adoration of all things Ukrainian. In a country with a history of conflicted identity, Lviv is proud to be Ukrainian.
I sketched and painted Lviv a few times (not enough!)...The experimental Yupo piece above was part of a 20x20 show at a Sacramento gallery.
Coming back to Lviv was wonderful...We caught the perfect weather and, although very short, our visit felt like a rich experience.
We came by train, from Khmelnitskiy. It's only a couple of hours' ride and I took the opportunity to introduce my husband to the standard travel choice of most Ukrainians - "platzkart", or 2nd class. This is basically an open train compartment, with two lower bunks, two upper bunks and one more lower and upper across the aisle. Your feet stick out into the aisle.
Another super traditional thing about this train ride - the mandatory hot tea in a glass with metal holder. Apparently, these things have been around since the late 18th century.
They are, of course, also highly sketchable :)
Once we got to Lviv, we had an airbnb place waiting for us. A loft in a tower, at the end of four or five stories of a spiral staircase.
And the best thing about it? The view...
We stayed close to the apartment - which is in the old town - which is where I wanted to be anyway. There's the Rynok square, the main tourist hangout with the city hall and the bell tower in the middle. The square is surrounded by something like fifty historical buildings, each unique but playing nicely with its quirky neighbors.
Among the new places, I got to visit the House of Legends - a multistory restaurant / museum of local urban legends. We dined on the rooftop and I scored a goal, shooting a coin into the chimney sweep's hat (this is supposed to bring you tons of luck).
Another stop was the Fedorov square, which his the location of a long-standing book flea market. I was limited by the size of my luggage, exchanged money on hand and also a little bit of common sense - otherwise, I would have bought a lot of paper. And vinyl.
We missed the festival of street music by a week or so but, this being Lviv, music happened on the street anyway. We just kind of wandered into this Ukrainian girls choir performance at the Rynok square.
This is just a very small, curated collection of images I brought home with me. I love the photo above, taken from the top of the House of Legends. I didn't think of it at the time, but this East-West pointing wind compass illustrates the historical predicament of my home country. Stuck between Russia and Poland, Ukraine has been a favorite site of many wars between the East and the West.
Ukrainians are not belligerent people. More like, conflict-avoidant - it takes a lot to tick us off. Which, I guess, attracts all sorts of conquerors thinking we're an easy win. It is really a mistake on their part...historically, Ukraine grew all kinds of rebels and militias in response to the bullying neighbors.
At the same time, the Ukrainian national identity has also been a site of conflict, particularly after its independence in 1991: do we associate more with the former soviet countries and their mentality or do we jump head first into the Western culture?
Anyway...I enjoyed the trip thoroughly. Hopefully, a longer stay next time. So much to see, so many things to sketch!