Introduction
Day 1 - San Francisco to Prague
Day 2 - Kyiv from the air
Day 2 - Boryspil International Airport
Day 2 - First Views Of Kyiv
Day 3 - Guided Tour of Kyiv
Day 3 - Kyiv - On our own
Day 3 - Night train from Kyiv to L'viv
Day 4 - L'viv with Father Ken
Day 5 - Radekhiv
Day 5 - Vytkiv
Day 6 - Trip to Kolomyia
Day 6 - Halych
Day 6 - Ivano-Frankivs'k
Day 7 - Bazaar at Kosiv
Day 7 - Between Kosiv and Kolomyia
Day 7 - Kolomyia
Day 8 - Zvenyhorod
Day 8 - Back in L'viv
Day 9 - L'viv with Orest and Vitali
Day 10 - L'viv - Morning walk with Dad
Day 10 - L'viv on my own
Day 11 - L'viv with Dad
Day 11 - Night train to Budapest
Day 12 - Budapest
Day 13 - Budapest
Day 13 - Szentendre
Day 14 - Homeward bound

TRIP TO UKRAINE
September 19 - October 2, 1999

DAY 4 - L'VIV - Львів
L'viv with Father Ken, Dinner with Family


Western Ukraine, L'viv, Central L'viv

Wednesday, September 22, 1999

We arrived in L'viv at 7 am - it was just getting light.

Station platform.

We checked into our hotel, the Dnister, a modern structure built in 1983 and renovated in 1998 for an eastern European summit meeting. It was clean, comfortable, amd well run. Its location struck me as perfect for the things we did, but Dad would have preferrred to stay at the George, since it is right on the main boulevard, and he has always stayed there. From what I heard later from my siblings, the George has nothing but its location to recommend it. If you stay at the Dnister, ask for a room facing the center of town, the view is wonderful. (Mine faced the other way, ho hum.)

At right, Hotel information card.

After a shower and a change of clothes, I was ready for breakfast. I picked up Dad at his room and we went to the dining room, which had an excellent breakfat buffet - fruit, cereal, pastries, etc., as well as made-to-order meals. We both opted for the buffet.

Service was polite but cool. I found this throughout the Ukraine part of our trip, clerks and waiters and service people in general were very formal, sometimes to the point of seeming hostility. I'm from California, where waiters introduce themselves and smother you with attention, and store personnel smile and act like long-lost friends, so I had trouble with the difference at first, but got used to it.

Our tour group's time in Kiev had been scheduled, with guided activities for most of the three days they spent there. Our time in L'viv, on the other hand, was entirely free. Our tour was intended for travelers like Dad, with family in the L'viv area, and no interest in planned activities there. Dad usually spends most of his time in L'viv with family and personal friends, since he has seen all the local sights many times by now. But since I was there for my first time, he had arranged for us to see the sights.

After breakfast Dad called Father Ken Novakovsky, a family friend, and head of the local office of Caritas, a Catholic charity. Ken soon collected us for a quick tour of his facilities, then lunch and some of the highlights of the city, mostly on foot.

One of our first stops was the Metropolitan's Palace, residence of Cardinal Lyubachevsky, Ken's boss.

(We met the Cardinal, but his health was poor, so we did no more than say hello. He has since died.)

This is the view from the reception chamber of the Palace. The hideous tower is a Soviet jamming device, which still belongs to the military, so cannot be dismantled.

Reception chamber - there's even a small balcony for an orchestra.

St. George's church (circa 1750), across from the Palace.

Interior of St. George's - they were installing radiant heating!

The crypt of the Church of St. George, with tombs of famous church leaders back to 1150.

The Tabernacle, placed here for safety while the work proceeds in the Church above.

Exterior of St. George's. The buildings at either side were converted to apartments by the Soviets, and the Church has allowed existing tenants to remain.

We drove to the top of a hill that overlooks the old part of L'viv from the Northeast, and found a group of schoolchildren on an outing. They seemed pretty normal, but all spoke a foreign language! The weather was hazy most of our trip, but mostly quite pleasant.

Everyone we met knew Father Ken, and seemed in awe of him, so I felt honored that he would take the time to play tour guide for us.

On our way back down to the center of town, we stopped to see the courtyard of St. Onufry's Church and Monastery.

Mitzkevich Place, in the heart of L'viv, right across from the Hotel George. The large state-owned bookstore occupies most of the ground floor of the building at center. Service was abysmal. Service in the private stores we patronized was generally better, though still somewhat sternly delivered.

Side view of the Hotel George, where Dad usually stays. I wanted to look inside, to see what I was missing, but he didn't want the staff, who all know him, to find out he was in town and staying somewhere else!

In the foreground is one of the underground passages so popular in Kyiv. This was the only one I saw here, and with traffic as light as it was, it seemed superfluous.

Inside a church in the old part of town.

Unlike Kyiv, L'viv escaped significant damage during the War, so it has many old buildings dating back as far as the 16th century. However, the Soviets destroyed many churches (every village has a huge, half-completed cathedral now), or converted them to museums, theaters, concert halls, etc. The worst damage to many was simply 50 years of active neglect. Priceless frescoes and other art treasures were ruined. Since independence, most of its former properties have been returned to the Church, and most are now under renovation or reconstruction.

Considering the poverty of the people, I had to wonder why they make the churches such a high priority. There's a lot of gold leaf on those statues and carvings! It brought to mind Marx's opinion, that "religion is the opiate of the masses" - but I decided this was neither the time nor place for such sentiments.

Quaint, charming streets. Everything was very clean, but seemed to me drab and somewhat shabby. I guess I'm too accustomed to neon and billboards. The people were well-dressed. There were very few cars or trucks, and few Western-style ads. L'viv, in this older section, at least, is mostly cobblestone streets - charming, but they make for bumpy riding. It seemed to me that people in general treated us, as foreigners, with suspicion.

(I like views through doorways into hidden courtyards, a tempting glimpse of some other way of life.)


Dinner with Cousin Vladimir and his Family

Back at the hotel the night of that first day in L'viv, Dad hosted a dinner for Vladimir (Vladik) Senkus, his wife Ludmilla, their daughter Zorianna, and their son Oleg and his wife. I found it awkward, as none of them speaks English, nor I any Ukrainian, and I was still recovering from jetlag and the train trip. I recognized them all from photos, though, and was glad to be able to make my own connection to their faces. Vladik is the grandson of Dad's father's brother Ivan, so my generation - my second cousin, according to this chart.

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Created -- 03/22/2007 Revised -- 03/22/2007