If somebody would have asked me before my departure what i connect to the Ukraine i guess my answer would have been like “Kiev; Tschernobyl; old buildings from the soviet time: big, grey and uninviting; churches with onion domes; Cyrillic script”. I came back with a completely different answer…
Lviv in the western part of the Ukraine is maybe the most beautiful city of the country and suprised me a lot as my expectations where completely different. I went there for the football matches of the Euro but discovered much more: a historic city centre, warm people, beautiful girls and tasty food!
1) The Historic Centre
When i arrived in Lviv's city centre for the first time i felt like walking around in Vienna or Budapest: ancient buildings, cobblestone roads, women in medieval costumes, trolley-cars and welcoming restaurants/cafes with terraces. Together with a week full of sunny weather and hot temperatures it was just the perfect setup.
The reason for it's cultural heritage is an eventful history:
“…Lviv had been part of numerous states and empires, including, under the name Lwów, Poland and later the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth; under the name Lemberg, the Austrian and later Austro-Hungarian Empires; the short-lived West Ukrainian People's Republic after World War I; Poland again; and the Soviet Union. …” (from Wikipedia: History of Lviv)
The beauty of the centre together with the mentioned variety of cultural influences are moreover the reasons that the Historic Centre of Lviv is part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage list since 1998:
“… In its urban fabric and its architecture, L’viv is an outstanding example of the fusion of the architectural and artistic traditions of eastern Europe with those of Italy and Germany. […] The political and commercial role of L’viv attracted to it a number of ethnic groups with different cultural and religious traditions, who established separate yet interdependent communities within the city, evidence for which is still discernible in the modern townscape. …” (from Unesco.org)
2) The People
Wow! Since my arrival i was overwhelmed by the helpfullness, kindness and hospitality of the people living there. Even though i was not able to speak their language and only a few were able to speak english we handled it somehow and everybody tried to help me in different situations (searching the right bus, calling a radio taxi, ordering in a restaurant that had only menus woth Cyrillic script…).
It seemed to me that the inhabitants couldn't wait to welcome football fans from around europe – i met a lot of volunteers who were helping out the whole day without getting money for it and it was with no doubt a pleasure for them. “It's great to get to know so many people from different countries and to practice my english skills” said one girl when we talked about the volunteer program.
I will also not forget the one sentence an employee of McDonalds said to me when i was about to leave: “Please come back and visit Lviv again!”
3) Food and Costs
The Costs during the Euro where higher as expected but afterwards they dropped massive: a double-room in a 3 start hotel in the city centre was about 28€ with breakfast included the day after the last match (= 14€ each for a luxury accomodation). The same goes with the prices for food and transportation – for the average backpacker from the western world the Ukraine is like paradise.
Of course the typical food like pierogies (dumplings with potato filling) and the ukrainian Borscht (soup made with beetroot) are just a few meals that should be on your list if you visit Lviv. The Ukrainian cuisine is very tasty and has significant diversity and historical traditions – together with a good beer it is the perfect end of an eventfull day.
4) Beautiful Girls
Ok, i'm a man so the last one is for you guys!
Again the city felt more like Budapest as i realized how much good looking and beautiful dressed girls are living in this city. I've heard a lot about the models in Moscow and i guess it must be like that if you walk around there.
When we made a videoblog where we had the task to find beautiful ukrainian girls for saying something to the camera, we just went to a central square and asked the girls passing by – the take with 14 pretty woman in a row was done in less than an hour (conversations included)! Moreover all girls we met where mostly down to earth, likeable and open minded – a good reason to return to Lviv! ;)
I produced also a video about Lviv!
Checkout more videos we produced in Lviv during my stay in our Euro section. Most of them were produced in german but we added english abstracts to them :)
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Have you ever been to Lviv? What are your experiences?
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