Nov 30, 2017

Western Ukraine's Lviv... "Little Paris"

My roots take me back to Ukraine where my parents are from but Detroit is where I was born. My birth language was Ukrainian and it's all I spoke until I was six years old. I was sent to Ukrainian language school in Detroit and took Ukrainian dance classes and learned how to cook Ukrainian food. It was only fitting that I visit Ukraine one day and the opportunity came back a few years ago when I was invited to teach English to students of all ages in Stryi, not far from the city of Lviv in western Ukraine. Spending over a month teaching three classes per day was extremely fulfilling. My students ranged in age from 4 years old to 70 and each of them left a thumbprint on my heart. These students studied diligently and together we mastered some difficult assignments.

                                 The Carpathian Mountains are a magical place to visit.
Located in Eastern Europe, Ukraine is one of the largest countries on the European continent. It has often been referred to as "the breadbasket of Europe." There's much to explore in Ukraine but certain areas of the country presently aren't safe for traveling. Ukraine no longer requires a visa for entry so if you're arriving by train from nearby border countries like Poland, Slovakia, or Romania a good place to begin your journey is in the beautiful city of Lviv which resembles a smaller version of "Paris, France."

Yes there's Prague in the Czech Republic, Budapest in Hungary, Belarus in Romania and Krakow in Poland and these enchanting cities in Eastern Europe have millions of tourists visiting each year. However Lviv in western Ukraine has it's own uniqueness and those that have the opportunity to visit Lviv aren't disappointed. With a population of nearly 724,000 inhabitants the cultural and historical city of Lviv is a very walkable city. I have a special fondness for Lviv because my mother was born in Lviv and spent her early years of life living in Lviv. She still has a special place in her heart for Lviv.

Begin your tour of Lviv at the Market Square (Rynok). Located in the center of historic Lviv the area of the square extends by eight streets with two at each corner. You can climb over 400 steps to the tower at the Lviv City Hall. There's no shortage of museums in Lviv, there's a total of sixty museums to be exact. Not to be missed is the "Under the Black Eagle Pharmacy Museum." Inside this museum is the oldest operating pharmacy in Ukraine. In existence since 1735 the front room of the museum is the functional dispensary where the tour begins.

Europe's beloved opera houses exist in all the grand cities of Europe and the Lviv Opera House with its magnificent architecture is almost as grand as those in Milan, Paris, and Vienna. Built in 1901 the Lviv Opera House is a cultural oasis of extraordinary talent performing in front of large audiences.

Buses are available to transport you through Lviv but walking the cobblestone streets is the best way to really feel the sense of the old architecture and to immerse yourself in the local culture. You'll discover small cafe's, churches, shops, street performers, and vendors and almost think you've stumbled across a "little Paris." After all the walking and sightseeing you can follow the fragrant scent of coffee beans to a quaint cafe and enjoy a cappuccino with a delectable pastry.

Before leaving Lviv, take a short walk to Lviv High Castle and see views of the city below from the highest point in the city. A two to three day visit to Lviv will leave you with fond memories and not too far from Lviv are the lovely Carpathian Mountains an excellent area to visit for hiking lush green mountains and breathing fresh country air.

                                     The Chopin Hotel is a comfortable place to stay.

Places to stay in Lviv:

Citadel Inn
, a former fortress is now a five star hotel.

Chopin Hotel offers elegance and is located near the Opera House.

On the Square Guesthouse is conveniently located on central square.

Popular Coffee Shops in Lviv:

Coffee Manufacture, sip on coffee and eat mouth watering desserts in a one of a kind atmosphere.

Svit Kava, enjoy lovely cakes with tasty coffee drinks.

Good Restaurants for Ukrainian Food:

Baczewski Restaurant
is one of the best in town serving well prepared cuisine.

Kryivka, say the password upon entering and enjoy authentic Ukrainian food with honey vodka.

Seven Piggies is a bit away from the city center but is known for tasty local cuisine.


Ukrainians love their varenyky (pierogies) the way Japanese love their sushi and the Italians their pasta. I grew up on these delicious dumplings filled with mashed potatoes and cheese, or sauerkraut. Pierogis's have been in existence since the 13th century. It's a work of art to make the perfect dough and shape the pierogi's in a way that the filling stays inside. Pierogi's are boiled in hot water and than served with fried onions, mushrooms, and dill. Some people love topping pierogi's with sour cream. Pierogi's can also be fried once they're cooked in the boiling water. 

                              Delicious Varenyky are a mainstay dish in Eastern Europe!

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