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.

Cluster Reunion! (L-R: Kate, me, Andy, Andrew, Janira)

Inside St. George’s Cathedral

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.

Delicious chicken, gnocchi, and cranberry sauce

Kate and me with our spiced wine

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.

L’viv opera house at night


  1. Mary Van Nortwick

    My parents lived in L’viv as well as in Ternopol, where I was born. Fascinating for me to think of them visiting some of the places in your pictures.

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