Lviv, day 2
Today’s the day I got to hang out with Khrystyna and Marta in the morning while their kids were being babysat by respective grandparents. They’re both friends I know from when I came to visit them at SoftServe in 2008 while I was working for Bazaarvoice’s London office. Eight years later, they are both young mothers, Khrystyna of two boys and Marta of one daughter.
Our first stop was Bilka, a kid-friendly and happy cafe and bakery.
We sat down at Khrystyna’s favorite table, which has a clear view of city center, and enjoyed some coffee and desserts. Marta suggested that I try a traditional Ukrainian sweet cheese dessert, and that’s just what I did.
Khrystyna has been busying herself with hobbies, like origami and making a map of all the parks in Lviv, for the past five years of not working, as well as taking her kids traveling to places like all-inclusive resorts in Turkey. Marta’s daughter never really got used to traveling in planes or by car, but she is okay with trains because you can get up and move around.
With Khrystyna as our guide, we wandered around city center. Yurashky, a gingerbread bakery had so many great designs, and they offer hands-on gingerbread cookie decorating workshops for kids.
We admired the city of glass in the window of Caramel Workshop. They were also making some cat lollipops when we walked in. One of the staff handed out samples of their assorted fruit candies.
Khrystyna had to head home after that to attend to her kids, so Marta and I continued strolling around, in particular to search for a plug for my lonely mosquito repellent refill. She led us into the Galician Market, where there are not only produce shops but also household goods and an Anime store. We tried a few small stores before we finally found one with what we were looking for (₴25). The shopkeeper told Marta in Ukrainian to be careful not to twist anything when using it because the wires in the plug are not that strong. I promised to take good care of it.
I said farewell to Marta when it was her turn to go home to get her daughter and went to a couple of churches before going to Lviv Handmade Chocolate. It was fun to watch the employees rushing around making sweets.
Starting to feel hungry, I headed back to the Galician Market. I saw some women making varenyky that would be frozen and ready to sell later if you wanted to take some home and boil them.
I found a cheese shop past the produce area called Cheese Voyage. The staff didn’t speak English, but again, the kindness of strangers kicked in. A woman behind me in line asked what kind of cheese I wanted (i.e., cow’s or sheep’s milk). I felt adventurous and went with sheep’s milk with paprika, plus a roll, for a mere ₴26.
Oleh, the host of a weekly English speaking club in Lviv, contacted me and agreed to meet up at 15:00 in Rynok Square. We went to House of Legends to enjoy the view from the top floor and some alcohol (₴17 for a shot of lemon-mint infused vodka). What a crazy themed restaurant/bar it was! It’s several floors tall, and each room has a different theme. Oleh had read my Couchsurfing profile closely and asked all about my long trip and my hobbies. How different this is from all the random Turkish guys who have just been messaging me willy-nilly! Oleh works for an NGO but has to work from 16:30 till 01:00, so we had to end our meeting in time at 16:00 for him to get to his shift on time.
I stopped by the Museum of Ideas, but there wasn’t much to it, just some shelves with glass products and a restaurant downstairs. I visited Berdardine Church and Latin Cathedral instead. Both seemed a bit gaudy, but less so than the Church of Transfiguration. People were confessing in the Latin Cathedral in Ukrainian while I read the exhibit about Pope John Paul II. A security guard moved a sign that said, “Enter here to pray” closer and closer to the main entrance, as if to tell anyone just there to visit to GTFO. Not super welcoming.
It was about time for the Couchsurfing meeting, so I headed to the initial meeting place. But Bierlin Lemberg not only required a deposit to reserve a table, but they also had a minimum spend of some unreasonable amount for an uncertain party size. So we went to Big Plate instead, and they had a huge upstairs room with multiple tables that were suitable for large groups. I got to chat with Julian, Tanya, Mark, Iryna, and Oksana (all locals), as well as Asgar (from Denmark), Jasmin (from Switzerland), and Yakim (from Finland). I’m getting to be a big fan of these get-togethers.
I tried their kvas (₴15 for 0.5L, way too sweet), small veggie salad (₴32), and deruny with beef (₴48). The food was all right, and the deruny was very comforting.
We chatted for a long while, and Kate arrived later with a friend. Eventually, the group dispersed somewhat, and the remaining folks wanted to go to Drunken Cherry to continue drinking. But as we were walking there, I asked Oksana what time the marshrutkas stop running. They are supposed to stop at midnight, but they start becoming rarer starting at 22:00. So we decided to call it a night and catch our respective public transit home. I vowed to try Drunken Cherry before leaving Lviv.