Ukraine's most lovely city!!

Trip Start Aug 27, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2012

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Where I stayed
The Kosmonaut Hostel Lviv
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Ukraine  ,
Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lviv, Ukraine -
  Being unaware of how long the bus would take to travel from Chisinau to Lviv didn't really bother me. I was saving a night in a hostel for some sleep on a bus. A bus where the radio was on loud all night, a bus where they cooked us with heating, a bus that had fascists pratrolling the seats, making sure you did not move. The one great thing about my bus, was Natalia. A sweet looking girl sat next to me and as ever, I just carried on listening to my music to try not draw attention to myself. After an hour of driving, Natalia draws my attention to a bathroom break and then we start chatting. A wonderful bus ride. Natalia was on her way to see some buddies in Lviv that she met on a conference a year ago. She is 31, married and lives in Chisinau. She has worked for a small import company for the last 11 years and has been under pressure to start producing grand children. We talked for hours, to the point where her understanding of my accent meant i could stop pretending to talk to my grandad and just mumble away. Oh man, I even was put on the spot to produce other accents, notably, Australian, Geordie, Liverpool and some others, I bet the other people on the bus hated the gingerman! During the night, she found an empty seat to have a sleep, or well try and in the morning, when we arrived into Lviv, she helped me buy a ticket for Kiev. She even found my fuzzy hair hilarious, comparing it to the picture in my passport. She said I should let it grow till I stop travelling.......maybe till I leave Mongolia!! It was such a pleasure meeting Natalia and I like to think that I now have a friend in Moldova, either that or a stalker, haha (she'll be reading this, won't you Natalia!!).

Lviv is awesome! It will blow your mind away! The city has so many different sides. I think in the three days I was there I saw at least three different Lvivs'. The city has wonderful history, a central European feel, a cosmopolitan population and a definite charm about the place.

I stayed in a little hostel called the 'Kosmonauts', either that or go stay at a party hostel. No thanks. The hostel was perfect. Machine guns lined the walls, there were uniforms, historical maps and a friendly feel to the place. It was situated in the middle of a block, where you walk through an opening into a courtyard. I took a wrong turn and banged on some random guys door. He shouted at me in Ukranian and some old lady from across the balcony, pointed to where I should go. So funny. Down the road from the hostel was a place selling traditional Ukranian food. It was like a self serve cafe but the food was amazing. My first night I couldn't resist trying some Borsch soup with Cabbage and a chicken Kiev with fried potatoes. My brother Dave would love Borsch soup, you'll have to find a recipe for it mate, or get Toni on the job.

That night I also tried Kvass, a beer made from fermented bread rye, it was a strange taste but only because my mouth was anticipating the taste of beer.

The city centre of Lviv itself is a good two days of exploring, well in the summer heat of 30 degrees. I find myself at a leisurely walking pace, happy to soak up the different atmospheres of Lviv. I encountered three. A quiet tourist feel on the Sunday. A local romantic feel on the Sunday night. A a busy city centre on the Monday. All three were great to be part of and observe.

The climb to the castle on the mountain was tough. Tough for my legs used to sitting (or lying down) watching the cricket. I start to wonder how long have I been wearing the same tshirt. The top was typical to most high view points. Packed with tourists and constantly getting in the way of cameras and poses. The top gave me a feel for how big the city was. To the south of the mountain, a sweet old part to Lviv. To the north of the mountain, industrial areas with high rise tower blocks which resembled more of concrete Eastern Europe.

On the walk down, I enjoy seeing trams drive past. People desperately trying to alight them before they set off again. I don't know why I have a fascination with public transport (outside the UK) but I do. I also notice something of interest to my old man. No pigs yet pops but Ukraine has more Lada's than any other car. A a few Yugo's, remember those? My old headmaster at C of E Mr Harrison used to drive one. So, for you dad, I took a picture of a church with a Lada parked out front!

Near the Lada was a large art market. I walked around the market slowly, trying to find places I hadn't already seen. Near the art market was a food and random market. One lady was selling Sunflower seeds still in the flower of the sunflower.

From the city hall right in the centre of Lviv, one is able to climb the bell tower to the top. Climbing being the operative world. Around and around and around till, wet and dizzy, I reach the top. Again, a wonderful vantage point for this incredible city. I stand up there for thirty minutes, soaking up the depth of the city.

The Sunday evening in Lviv was very special. The city was dark and there were few lit parts. It didn't feel dangerous at all, just a soft glow to help you find your way. Some of the historical buildings were lit up. I watched one outdoor cafe where the patrons danced on a stage, I watched one waiter enjoy his ten minute break and throughout the city, couples young and old were being romantic to each other. Sitting on benches here, walking hand in hand there. A sweet, lovely, wonderful city.

On my last day, I spent time talking to a Japanese lad in my dorm. He was either 28 or 58, I didn't know, but he gave me his email address for when I hit Japan. A Spanish guy, Japanese guy and I enjoyed a beer at an outdoor bar and then Spanish guy and I went to try out the underground Ukrain resistance bar. After a knock on the door, you offer the password and the door is open by a guy in army dress with an AK47! A quick shot of Ukranian courage and you're allowed in the bar downstairs. It was fun.

My last meal was potato dumplings with some chicken meatballs and some vegetables, all for less than 2 quid, magic!

One of the last moments in Lviv was watching some guys trumpet salute from high up on the balcony of city hall. There was also the offer of going to a place to fire a few automatic weapons, AK47's, sniper rifles, shot guns, but this really didn't sit well with me. I can't understand why anyone would want to spend money to use an automatic weapon. Are they really fantasising about killing someone? Killing a bunch of people? It makes me sick knowing that people are using these for fun where in reality, all around the globe, people fall victim to these weapons in their everyday lives! I've never fired a gun in my life and I never want to, especially for 'tourist' fun!

The walk back to the train station for my overnight sleeper train to Kyiv took 45 minutes and I arrived super early. The Japanese guy doubted I would find my way, but it is up one long street (that is being torn to shreds, for what I imagine is a new tram line).

When my train arrives, I make my bed and settle in for the night, when I wake up, I should be in Kyiv.
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Pete B on

Did you end up figuring out how long you had been wearing the same t-shirt?

mum on

beautiful country and what lovely people you are meeting.

Pete B on

You never been clay peigeon shooting?

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