Streets made of cobblestone, trams taken from another century and Lada's taken from Russia. These are not the only things you will notice when in Lviv, Ukraine. This not-so-small (over 700 000 inhabitants) yet kind of "cozy" city on the far West of the Ukraine is a charming place to visit. The decline of Hryvnia (country's currency) has made this city exceptionally affordable for the Western travellers yet also influencing a decline the Ukraine's economy. Lviv is a place that you will want to visit again and again and let me tell you why.
It's not perfect but it's true in what it is. True to the values and traditions of the locals. It is the only tourist city that I've seen in the East that is ready for tourists yet underestimated and not spoiled by their influences. You can see what I'm talking about it in the products that are offered in shops, restaurants and souvenirs. These are of high quality, crafted things like alcohol (vodkas & liqueurs), coffee and others. You wouldn't suppose that a city in that region would be famous for it's coffee. Quite the contrary. As the official travel site of Lviv puts it:
History of Coffee in Lviv started back in late 18 century with the coming of the Austrians, who revealed all niceties of coffee brewing for Lviv citizens by opening numerous cafés. Coffee started to be more and more popular in different circles of society and soon all Lviv fell ill with coffeemania that can’t be healed. Owners of cafés were arranging evening concerts, dances, there you was to hear all the latest gossips… Often cafés were places where creative youth from Lviv was gathering. Many poems, songs and legends are devoted to coffee that makes this drink even mystical.
The coffee is much better and available in more variations than the popular chains that you know. It is also much cheaper and the surroundings in which you taste it can be exceptional. This includes the interior in the place as well as jazz music and concerts. Even if you prefer the "to go" option you can stroll down the never-ending old streets and just be mindful of the moment. It's no wonder it's advertised as "the city of lovers".
This on the other hand is clashed with the lack of funding and an economy in decline due to recent internal conflict and the conflict with Russia. Numerous soliders strolling the streets. Not because of danger (it's really safe here) but due to being on a permit to visit relatives (28 April - 3 May was Orthodox Easter). Same was visible in Kyiv (also known as Kiev). Nevertheless, they come from the East which is still in conflict. The decline is also visible in the condition of which are the buildings. Although the tenement houses are beautiful and create the exceptional vibe they are also in poor condition and many need to be renovated badly.
During my stay and travels through Ukraine my main subject of photographs were people. I was refining my craft in terms of capturing their emotions and situations they're in. This is something I wanted to do for some time and it will accompany me in the near future. Little less of cityscapes and a bit more of street photography and people. Ukraine was interesting in that matter as it's not yet as much influenced by tourists and overcrowded as, for instance, Prague or Paris. It was easier for me to do the work. The effects you can see below and in the full gallery.
When you sit in a cafe or stroll down the streets you notice that the time flies differently here. As if it has slowed significantly letting you not rush, sharpen your senses and experience more. Whereas by great cuisine, slower transport (the trams go really slow) or something in the air. Does not matter, really. What matters it what you make of it. See more photographs in the full gallery from Lviv.
What to see?
Markets: Souvenir Market (along Svobody ave), Vernisazh (ukr. Вернісаж) Market, Ivan Fiodorov Book Market
Kryivka (ukr. Криївка) - a hideout styled like restaurant, the food is avarage.
House of Legends (ukr. Дом легенд) - with a fantastic viewing point and a car on the roof.
Museum of Brewing - a museum of one of the most renown in Europe local breweries (next to a market) called Lvivske.
Town Hall Tower - giving a panoramic view on the city.
Italian courtyard aka Venice Palace- great architecture tucked in one of the market square's tenement houses
Where to dine?
Baczewski restaurant - fantastic food, liquers and vodkas with a long history in Lviv and a wonderful interiors with an orangery, all created with the utmost diligence.
Beer Theatre "Pravda" - craft beer made on the spot and a restaurant.
Poshta na Drukarskiy - interesting interiors (probably the largest collection of Lviv postcards), large selection of craft beers.
Lviv Coffee Mining Manufacture - for a great coffee