Lviv, day 1
I slept poorly for five hours because of attacking mosquitos visiting from the park, so I had to cover myself from head to toe in a blanket. But it was so hot that I had to keep waking up and fanning myself to go back to sleep. I was determined to find a solution for my next night.
After taking the marshrutka into city center (₴4), I encountered an English ad for a Cat Cafe. And of course, it’s located next to Lviv Polytechnic.
I then visited Letter Bookshop and picked up a cute postcard (₴5). They certainly couldn’t call themselves a book store without the entire Harry Potter series in Ukrainian.
Around the corner was the Pharmacy Museum, and I found a drawer labeled “absinthe”.
Next stop was an art gallery / cafe / boutique shop called Something Interesting. It was so cute! I usually don’t like shopping, especially not for jewelry, but they had an affordable and minimalistically styled set of offerings, so I indulged myself with something from local artist Kozar Myroslava.
Around the corner from the Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet, the Vernissage flea market was fun to walk through. I spotted many a war medal, antique tableware, kitschy paintings, traditional Ukrainian clothing, and Poo-tin toilet paper.
At the Central Post Office, I had to ask several people how to get a stamp (₴2.40) to mail my postcard to the States. It has so many different areas that I wasn’t sure, but you can cut the wild goose chase and go straight into the room labeled kiosk to the right of the service area.
I tried to visit the Science Library, but it is closed until 31 August since school is not in session.
Ivan Franko Park was pleasant to walk through, as was the Lviv Polytechnic campus.
I noticed some interesting windows on my walk to find lunch.
Baguette seemed like a decent bakery, so I ordered a cherry-filled croissant (₴12), a strawberry milkshake (₴30) and a small salmon and spinach pizza (₴98). My waitress tried to make me question my decision on pizza size, but I was the only person eating it, so a small was plenty. In fact, it was probably better for two people. The croissant turned out to be too bready, and the milkshake was too watery. But the pizza was quite nice. I stuffed my face with it while watching the Robby Williams music videos they had playing on the TV.
On my walk back to Chehovych, an old wooden house with a steeply pitched roof caught my eye.
At 14:00, I sat down to wait for Roman and for the coffee roasting to start. Several other SoftServe folks came by, too! But only Roman and I went into the back to watch the owner roast coffee in his Probat. He also has an electric roaster, but he hasn’t used it since he got the gas one since he can control the temperature. Roasting a small batch of beans only takes about 12-13 minutes, and he kept fiddling with the percentage output of the burners as the beans got closer to being done.
After roasting and cooling, the beans need to de-gas for about 1.5-2 weeks before they are ready for cupping; otherwise, you’ll end up with bubbly and plain coffee without any nuanced flavors or aromas. Then the beans are at their peak for up to two months after roasting. It was really inspiring to see the care with which he used to prepare the beans. He works with a Polish friend who has a coffee bean sourcing business.
To solve my mosquito problem, Roman took me down the street towards a shopping mall, but on the way, we saw a little shop labeled IKEA Market. I asked him what it was since I thought it was an IKEA-owned supermarket (i.e., only sells their food). But he corrected me and said that IKEA hasn’t opened any stores in Ukraine, so Ukrainian entrepreneurs go to Poland where the closest IKEA stores are, buy their merchandise, and resell them at a mark-up in Ukraine from these unofficial storefronts.
When we arrived at the shopping mall, I was surprised that the store we went to was actually a Watsons! Maybe I’m really in Asia. They had Raid brand plug-in mosquito repellent, so I was happy… Until the evening before I went to bed when I realized that it was just the refill, and the plug wasn’t included. Oh, well: I found an oscillating fan, which should disrupt their movements since they aren’t the strongest flyers. I’ll look for a plug later.