After Venice, my friends and I spent two days exploring L’viv, the unofficial capital of western Ukraine. L’viv has a rich history; the city was tossed between Poland, Austro-Hungary/Germany, and Russia before Ukrainian independence. One place this is apparent is in the city’s many names from all these different languages: L’viv (Ukrainian), L’vov (Russian), Lwow (Poland), Lemberg (German), and even Leopolis (Latin). Before World War II there was a large Jewish population; unfortunately, you can probably guess what happened during the War.
One of the main highlights of two days in L’viv was having a cluster reunion – all five of us who trained together last fall met up for a morning of clock tower-climbing and lunching. It was great, after traveling in Venice with Kate and Andy, to add Janira and Andrew back to the group. The clock tower – and Високий Замок (“vysokyy zamok,” literally “tall castle”), a hill with castle remains which Andy and I climbed – offered great views of the city. Not surprisingly, we also saw many more churches and just enjoyed walking around the city center.
The culinary highlight of the city came at a Jewish-themed restaurant called “Pid Zolotoju Rozoju” (“under the golden rose”), where another PCV had told me you bargain for your meal price. Bargain, indeed – after an incredible lunch of spreads for matzo, fresh salads, tender chicken with cranberry sauce and gnocchi, and delicious spiced wine – the waiter started at 1,000 UAH for the four of us (aii! Not on our PC budget). We were able to get him down to a reasonable-but-still-expensive 400 UAH. It was the most expensive meal I’ve had in Ukraine, but also one of the best.
When I go back to L’viv I want to take advantage of the 25 UAH opera tickets — the opera house is beautiful from the outside, and they have lots of shows every day of the week.