Borderland: Impressions of Lviv, Ukraine

Lviv, December 2008

At the end of a haphazard year working in Kyiv I took an overnight train to Lviv, to experience the more relaxed, old-fashioned side to Ukraine. Colleagues had mentioned the tasty food and bright buildings in the west of the country, as well as the European atmosphere that hints at its proximity to Poland. It seemed an ideal place to spend the New Year’s holidays.

I arrived on a beautiful winter morning. A watery December sun hung in the sky; the temperature was ten degrees below zero. As I walked along Svobody Avenue towards the Theatre of Opera and Ballet in the centre of town, the freezing air pinched my cheeks and tickled my lungs.

On Ploshcha Rynok (‘Market Square’), there is an outside market, which was full of people even in the bitter cold. On all of its four sides there are buildings with pretty baroque façades. A Russian Orthodox Church sits in one corner, its golden dome wrapped in snow. Stalls offer woodcrafts, fur valenki boots and oil paintings. The scene would make a fine painting itself.

- Read the full article on Europe Magazine Online.

Also: See more of my photos from Lviv and a photo set Winter in Ukraine.


Lviv, January 2009

No Ukrainian apartment is complete without an eccentricity or two. The clean, stylish place on vulytsya Fedorova in Lviv, which Ana and I had rented for two days in January, was no exception. It played its first couple of tricks on us even before we had unpacked our suitcases.

There was no hot water when we arrived after a night spent in a stuffy train carriage, so I freshened up in the en suite shower pod by pouring water from a long-since-boiled kettle over my head from a tin saucepan. As I dried myself I realised that the pan had only been half-clean: I had stepped into the bathroom smelling of tea and blankets and emerged reeking of mackerel.

Continue reading