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.
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