Any tips for a friend of mine who's planning to visit Lviv in the Ukraine?

Bring a vowel?
6.4.2007 9:09pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):
I opened this article expecting a rant on people who can't write Roman numerals correctly.
6.4.2007 9:14pm
Colin (mail):
Don't call it "the Ukraine"?
6.4.2007 9:20pm
MDJD2B (mail):
I was there two years ago. It is a beautiful town, much of which is a UNESCO historical landmark.

Everything is written in Cyrillic script. Don't THINK of going with out learning the Cyrillic alphabet. Nothing-- signs, etc-- is written in the Latin alphabet. Procure a Ukranian phrase book. Lviv is the epicenter of Ukranian nationalism, and so a Russian phrase book will not be as useful as in other parts of Ukraine, where people are not as ferociously nationalistic. And forget German.

It is very hard to find people who speak English, but people were very friendly and took us to a restaurant when we showed them the address. On the other hand, when I needed to get a train ticket to Uahhorod (200 miles away) I tried to book first class and ended up on third class, but it only cost $2.50 in fare. DO NOT travel on a third class train. It is scary, and possibly dangerous. Travel first or second class (I forgot the Ukranian appellations for the classes).

It is easy to find delicious food. Much of the meat and produce are local, and so the restaurant food is inexpensive and delicious. The beer is fabulous. Obolon' is the best.

Check out the market, where you can find wonderful produce, bread, cheese, etc. Also nice embroidery, and oil paintings of fat, bearded Jews counting their money. You bargain for souveniers, but not for food-- at least I didn't.

There is a hill near town that locals walk up to get a view of the city. Otherwise, except for wandering around downtown, there is litle of touristic interest. But I took my 25-year-old daughter on this trip with me (our destination was Uzhhorod, whnce my family emigrated to America) and we both had a fabulous time in both places.
6.4.2007 10:10pm
When did we change from 'Lvov' to Lviv.' Is this one of those things that leads to Slavs killing Slavs over vowels?
6.4.2007 11:18pm
Armen (mail) (www):
I opened this article expecting a rant on people who can't write Roman numerals correctly.

This isn't how YOU write 61?
6.4.2007 11:27pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail):
Say absolutely nothing positive about Russia. Lviv is all about the Ukrainian nationalism. They don't like the "Moskali."
6.4.2007 11:35pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail):
And part and parcel of the last point, definitely do not say pronounce it "Lv-oh-v."
6.4.2007 11:37pm
Respondent (mail):
I believe that "Lvov" became "Lviv" when Stalin, at the end of WWII, annexed to the Soviet Union the part of Poland that it received from Germany in the Hitler-Stalin pact of 1939. At least he annexed that part of Poland to the adjacent Ukraine and Belarus, unlike Koenisberg, which bizzarely became part of Russia after the war although it only borders Poland and Lithuania. Hence all the issues Russia and the EU had to deal with when both Poland and Lithuania became EU members.
6.4.2007 11:39pm
Hoosier: In Ukraninan, it's always been Lviv. You know it as Lvov only because you came of age when the Soviet Union still existed, and the Russian language was imposed on the whole empire.
6.5.2007 12:08am
David Yashar (mail):
I was there 8 years ago on a visit to my father's village 70 miles southwest. Back when he was growing up, it was neither Lviv nor Lvov, but Lemberg. We saw Carmen in the Lviv opera house. It is considered one of the most beautiful opera houses in Europe and I recommend it. Front row seats cost us the equivalent of $6. Hilary Clinton visited in the mid-90s and stayed at the Dniester Hotel. We stayed downtown in the George.
6.5.2007 12:16am
Syd (mail):
I suppose calling it Lemberg is right out, then?
6.5.2007 1:34am
When I was there 10 years ago, the only place worth staying or eating was the Grand Hotel. I'm not sure if that's changed, but you should definitely start there.
6.5.2007 1:52am
Josh Bornstein (mail) (www):
Thanks for the tips. (I'm the friend who will be going to Krakow, and then on to Lviv (um, Lemberg). I will be going wearing my photographer hat, so I am hoping that there will be buildings to shoot, as well as the local people. Thanks again,
6.5.2007 10:34am
You've probably heard this before, but just in case...look into transport routes that let you cross the Poland-Ukraine border by bus or taxi. If you do it by train, you'll have to wait several hours while the cars' tires are changed to fit the wide-gage Soviet-era train tracks. It was Stalin's idea to have non-standard train tracks to slow down invading armies.

You won't have any trouble finding beautiful buildings to photograph - Lviv is an absolutely gorgeous city!
6.5.2007 3:35pm
Steve McCallister (mail):
Lviv is beautiful and a wonderful city. As some have noted, it's a UNESCO World Heritage site. There is a very nice (if a bit expensive) glossy paperback tourguide book available in local bookstores which is in several languages, including English. If you love architecture and history, it's well worth the price. (I'm away from home now, but it's a trade paperback with a white cover and L'viv on the cover -- lots of photos, maps, and history of all the neighborhoods and buildings.

If you're there in the summer, the produce is magnificent -- fresh tomatoes and cucumbers with dill are a highlight of almost every meal. Cafe Veronica ("B" is the cyrillic equivalent of roman "V")is a wonderful place for a pastry and coffee. We spent July there last summer and for $3 US you could have a wonderful cappucino and a smart tart with wild blueberries and alpine strawberries -- heaven! Many restaurants have english menus and there are any number of internet cafes where you can send email (and research the local area) for $1 US or so per hour.

- stevemc
6.5.2007 4:17pm
Gideon Kanner (mail):
Let's get that name straight, folks. It was originally a Polish city, founded around 1200 and named Lwow, with a little accent mark over the o which is then pronounced "oo" in Polish, so the name of the city is pronounced L'voov (there is no w sound in Polish). The word is derived from "lew" (pronounced lev), or lion in Polish -- hence Leopolis in Latin. Ex-Marines take note: its motto is (or was) Semper Fidelis. When the Austro-Hungarian empire acquired that part of Poland under one of the partitions, it became Lemberg in German. In 1918 Poland was reestablised as an independent country so it became Lwow (now you know how to prounounce it) again. When the Soviets conquered it in 1939 they called it Lvov in Russian. Then it became a part of Ukraine and became Lviv.

That theater that has been mentioned is indeed a gem; it's a scaled down replica of the Paris opera house.

And do be careful. At the risk of being denounced by the political correctness police, the Uktrainians have been historically a violent, brutal, bloodthirsty bunch, from Bohdan Khmelnytskyi's cossack rebellion in the 16th(?) century, to the 19th century pogroms and the murderous excesses of Semyon Petlyura's lads after WW I and Stepan Bandera's in WW II. But they were equal opportunity killers: they killed both Jews and Poles when they could, and did their part in helping the Germans during the Holocaust. Maybe they have improved by now, but if I were you I'd still be careful. Illuminating Ukrainian political joke on demand.

Enjoy your trip. The food should be good.
6.5.2007 4:29pm
Gideon Kanner (mail):
PS - I forgot. Make sure you have some fresh wild strawberries. With sour cream. Trust me on that.
6.5.2007 4:44pm