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 9 - L'VIV
Walking tour of L'viv with Orest and Vitali


Map of central L'viv, with main train station at left,
Shevchenko Park at top right, old town in center

Monday, September 27, 1999

Vitali and Orest had offered to show me the city on Monday, and since Vitali spoke some English, I gladly accepted. We made an appointment for 9:30 AM, at our hotel. I forgot to tell them we were not at the George, where Dad usually stays, but Vitali figured it out and arrived, out of breath, a few minutes late, and we headed off. His father joined us at the University, a short walk away. Dad went to visit other friends.

The Ivan Franko Polytechnic University, one of six or eight Universities in L'viv. Vitali attends classes here, but cannot afford everything he needs to get ahead - advancement is not based on merit alone. But I suppose that's true here, too. Education is expensive almost anywhere.

Statue of Ivan Franko, across from the University. Next to Taras Shevchenko, he is the most-revered Ukrainian patriot. I think of them as the George Washington and Ben Franklin of Ukraine.

Central staircase inside the University. We had hoped to see a museum there, but it was locked, and the keys were unavailable. I asked about computers, and was told that the only ones are those used by the administration - there are none for student use.

We took a streetcar to Shevchenko Park, which is a huge open-air historical- cultural museum of Ukrainian culture - over 100 houses and several churches built in the styles of all regions of Ukraine, as they would have been a century or two ago.

 

We were practically the only visitors that day, but it was very late in the season - in June through August the place is mobbed, they told me.

Everything has been recreated to look as authentic as possible. In summer the guides live in the park, and wear the costumes appropriate to the houses.

Hollyhocks and marigolds are the two national flowers.

On our way out, we passed a group of school children on an outing, at a small petting zoo. This scene struck me as universal - we could have been in California.

After Shevchenko Park we went to the plaza in front of the Opera House to meet George, a friend of theirs who works part-time as a guide. I got the impression that everyone there works at as many jobs as they can, anything to supplement their meager income. George spoke excellent English - or had memorized his script very well - and conducted a whirlwind walking tour of Old L'viv for the next two hours. To save time, I took no photos. By the time we finished it was 3 pm, and I was starved, with just a cup of coffee for lunch. Vitali suggested we go to his home for a meal.

On the way, a swimming pool where Vitali told me he spends all his spare time in summer.

 

Near Vitali's home: on the left, one of the ubiquitous "PRODUKTI" stores - he said it translates "FOOD". I thought of it as the local equivalent of the 7- 11 store.

Vitali served me some borsch to soothe my hunger, then fired up the barbecue for barbecued chicken.

When Orest arrived the two of them set up a small table in the back yard, and we ate there - the temperature was in the 80's by then, quite comfortable for outdoor dining. They did not explain why the women did not join us, but I didn't mind, I felt awkward with Dad not there to translate for me.

I was worn out by then, so I begged off further touring - I suspect they would have entertained me into the night. They escorted me back to the hotel, with another streetcar ride for good measure.

There were streetcars everywhere in L'viv, and I saw few that were not filled to capacity.

 

Orest's school was near our hotel, so I took this photo of him, with the school in the background, at the end of the street.

One rather shocking fact that Vitali revealed to me was that L'viv (population over 700,000) has no movie theaters! They have all gone out of business. By itself that seems rather trivial, but it impressed me more than almost anything else I saw or heard as a symptom of an economy in terrible trouble.

KLITSCHKO MADNESS

I had noticed photos of this pair all over Kyiv and L'viv, and Vitali asked me if I had heard of them - the Klitschko brothers, Ukraine's biggest international stars at that time. I confessed I had not.

When both were still fighting (Vitali, the older, retired in 2005, but has announced a comeback recently), they swore they would never fight each other (both are heavyweights), because they had promised that to their mother.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitali_Klitschko

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wladimir_Klitschko

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Created -- 03/22/2007 Revised -- 03/23/2007