Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Our love for Lviv

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we had a friend, Rick, come visit us from Odessa. Before we saw him off at the train station yesterday, we spent two days exploring downtown Lviv. The three of us were pleasantly surprised by what we saw. We saw a city that is changing for the better. It is changing in ways that we want it to change.
It makes us feel positive about the present and hopeful about the future. We decided to take Rick downtown and visit a random coffee shop. Lviv is famous for quality coffee going back hundreds of years. We stumbled upon a new coffee shop and roaster on Ploshcha Rynok (Market Square). It is called Lviv Coffee Mine. The last time Yulia and I were there, actually, there was a souvenir shop at that location. We entered, and walked past a giant coffee roasting machine and gift shop. We found some alluring underground tunnels. I guess they have a running joke that they mine the coffee there. We took some pictures while we were down there.

  We stumbled around some more and emerged in a beautiful courtyard.

The cafe area was covered by a steel and glass vaulted ceiling through which you could see the sky. The center of the courtyard had a stage for a band. Different bands play music there frequently. The night we were there an alternative jazz band played. Many different genres of music can be heard there.
Doors seemed to be the decorative theme for the courtyard, as you may be able to see behind the stage in the above photograph. They also had different doors painted and hung up to serve as decoration:

We sat down here and ordered some coffee (a rarity for Yulia and me) and some food.

 This cafe also did something that I haven't seen before at restaurants. They brought out blankets after it got dark out. Here's Yulia staying warm with hers:
In all, we were pleased with what we saw at the Lviv Coffee Mine. The waiters were friendly and young mostly. They looked a lot like what we would refer to as hipsters in the US, so I guess that would make them hipsters. I know it's popular to poke fun at these kinds of people, but I don't want to. I really respect them and what they are doing. These are young, creative, energetic people that have created something wonderful in a city we already love very much. In America I take these people and places for granted. In Ukraine I don't.
We also noticed a new feature outside on Ploshcha Rynok--a virtual library. We've never seen anything like it anywhere before. I guess you need a QR download to use it. I would go into greater detail about how it works, but we don't have smartphones, so we don't know about that kind of stuff. But what a nifty idea! And it's encouraging to see that it is sponsored by Lviv City Hall. It's good to know that the local government is being so progressive.
The big purple book says, "Classics." The first book is Herman Melville's Moby Dick.
The day after we went to the coffee shop, we went to a restaurant called, Дім Легенд (Legend's House). It's another creative place. The restaurant is several stories tall with a spiral staircase going to each floor. Each room seemed to have its own theme. The theme in our room was nautical. There was a TV screen with a live video of Lviv's main river, the Poltva. It is an underground river, so the image was in night vision. There was some kind of floating thing kind of dancing around at the bottom of the screen. We couldn't figure out what it was. Our best guesses are an eye stalk from a snail or a periscope. The bathroom at Legend's House was also quite playful. There was a TV monitor above the toilet. When you entered the bathroom two guys would open a "door" on the TV screen and pretend to talk about you and your business in the restroom. It was quite funny. I would add some pictures from this restaurant, but they had a no photographing policy.
We later found out the Lviv Coffee Mine and Legend's House are part of a group of local businesses in Lviv called Холдинг емоцій !Fest. They are a group of creative and unique businesses that are together trying to create a positive image of Lviv in particular and Ukraine in general. Here is a picture of another one of their restaurants, Львівська майстерня Шоколаду (Lviv Handmade Chocolate):

Their first initiative was Криївка (in English, The Bunker). It is a restaurant with a military theme. The restaurant itself has no sign on the street outside. You have to just know its location. To get in you have to say a password. It is supposed to be like a Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) bunker. The restaurant is located underground. I went there last year with my uncle. We had a really good time. 

The !Fest company has a mission statement that Yulia and I completely agree with. If I could translate it..."To create a unique space for positive emotions and impressions; to make ourselves, our city, and our country better." In fact, word for word that would also serve as a perfect mission statement for our blog. Yulia and I feel that we have found a group of very similar people to ourselves with different approaches to achieve the same thing. Right on.


  1. What a wonderful place and your descriptions of it all makes me want to go there and wish the rest of the world could emulate what is going on there!

  2. Thank you for your positive comment! Lviv is a great place to visit. It's becoming more and more tourist friendly. We will be posting more info about recent time in Lviv. So, check back soon.