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Lviv: A City That Makes My Heart Ache & How to Find Your Ukrainian Family 7 Years Later

After a few days in Kyiv, I headed west to the city of Lviv for four days. Lviv is a city I fell head over heels in love with seven years ago. When I arrived in Lviv this time around my heart actually felt heavy — why had I waited so long to return here? The six weeks I spent in Lviv seven years ago were formative in many ways. It was the summer before college, I was free to speak Ukrainian, enjoy the city, and just be. This time around I went to do some reporting, you can read my story for CSM here: After months of turmoil, voters in pro-West Ukraine want stability. It was incredibly interesting for me to just walk around and talk with average Ukrainians about their views of the last seven months and the elections that will happen in a few hours. Below is Tereza, the vendor I quote in my story, and the other photos are of things I mention in my piece.

Tereza Lviv

Here’s the toilet paper I mention in my story:

Lviv Toilet Paper

Street art in memory of the “Heavenly Hundred”:

Heavenly Hundred Lviv

From left to right: the first is self-explanatory, second: “God and automatic Kalashnikovs are with us.” Third: “Putler kaput.” Putler is a slang term joining Hitler and Putin together. A few days later someone had pained over the bullet hole on Putler’s head.

Lviv Street Art

People buying Ukrainian flags and ribbons on the street:

Flag Shopping Lviv

I also went to Lviv to see my family. One cousin is studying journalism (must run in the family) in Lviv and she had found me on Facebook a few years back so it was easy to meet up. For the other side of the family I had home addresses and cellphones from seven years ago. None of the numbers worked anymore. As I was walking around the city I passed a flower market and remembered that one relative had a stand there. I figured I should inquire instead of simply showing up at people’s homes unannounced. So I approached the vendors, “Is Bohdanna working today?” “No, she’s not. Who are you? Where are you from?” I speak Ukrainian with an accent that makes people think I am Polish (such is the diaspora upbringing where your American accent infiltrates). So I explained I was a relative from America and I wanted to see her. Within seconds I was surrounded by vendors. “Who has Bohdanna’s number?” Before I knew it I was speaking to Bohdanna on a vendor’s cellphone and she was telling me to get into a cab immediately to come see her — seemingly unfazed by the phone call out of the blue from the American relative. I told Bohdanna I would come by the next evening because I had an interview scheduled. Then I returned the cellphone and the vendors started asking me questions. One shouted at me, “Please tell the Americans that we aren’t fascists here.” Putin’s propaganda has such immense power. The next evening I spent five hours with Bohdanna and other family. They put out a lovely spread of desserts and I ate more than needed. Bohdanna was happy and surprised to see me. She was worried about the situation in Eastern Ukraine and said the last seven months had been incredibly stressful — simply not knowing what the latest news would bring every morning. She told me several times she would pray for me while I work in Ukraine.

Flower Shop Lviv

Iris Season

Lviv is one of my favorite city’s in the world to wander. You never know what is behind a beautiful, old door:

I stayed with an old friend while in Lviv (thanks again Areta!) and on my first day in town we went on the city’s first Instagram meet up. It was a lot of fun. We walked around for five hours and took photos together. In seven years Lviv has changed a lot. There are now many more restaurants and bars. Lviv was a host city for the Euro soccer cup, so now there are plenty of gift shops, hostels, and information is in English around town.

Lviv InstaMeet

Lviv Above

Lviv From Above

Lviv Amusement

Lviv Courtyard

Lviv Courtyard 2

Lviv Church

Lviv Eclectic Yard

Lviv Yard

Lviv Cross

Lviv Church 2

Lviv Hike

Lviv Nuzzle

In the free time I had, I walked past beautiful churches and old buildings, and I also lounged in the city’s coffee cafes. Below is the main square, the rinok, in downtown Lviv:

Lviv Rinok

Lviv Pray

Lviv’s Opera House:

Lviv opera

Lviv Pink Sky

A street mirror with the words, “Welcome Home” scrawled across. It made me smile:

Welcome Home

Monument to Ukraine’s national poet, Taras Shevchenko, in the middle of downtown:

Taras Shevchenko Lviv

Shevchenko Fro

Church by night with colorful lights:

Night Church Lviv

Narrow building Lviv

Mary in Lviv

Lviv Street


Lviv Street 2

Lviv Stroll

Ukraine has placards to famous people on many buildings. Here’s one to poet Ivan Franko who lived in this building:

Franko Lviv

One of my favorite Lviv pastimes, bride and groom photo shoot watching:

Bridal Photo Shoot

This building is for sale. Deep down I dream of fixing something like this up:

Old Building Lviv

Church TopArmenian church:

Armenian Church lviv

Crimean Tatars commemorating 70 years since Stalin deported them from their homeland:

Crimean Tatar Lviv

The national museum put on a showcase of Crimean Tatar art:

Tatar Exhibit Lviv

I was very fortunate to have a beautiful writing view:

Writing View Lviv

Train Ride to Lviv

It’s almost 2 a.m. now so I am heading to bed. Tomorrow (already today) will be a big day. Ukraine is picking its next president in a few hours.

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. K #

    miss that wonderland place

    May 24, 2014
  2. Its a beautiful city. I’m glad you met your family. It must be a very difficult situation – I saw something on the BBC about someone saying they are afraid to vote. I hope the people choose freely and get what they want. Stay safe.

    May 24, 2014
    • With violence continuing in Eastern Ukraine, voter turnout there is expected to be low. There is no law in Ukraine that stipulates how much of the population has to vote. However, if it turns out that turnout is very low in the East, Putin will use this to say that the president wasn’t representatively elected.

      May 25, 2014
  3. Great entry and photos. Lviv looks amazing, and I love how you were able to get in touch with family. Also: kitties!

    May 27, 2014
    • Kitties, the best! Hopefully some day you’ll get to visit. I have a feeling you’d love Lviv.

      May 27, 2014
  4. daria szot #


    May 27, 2014
  5. Lviv looks beautiful! I’m happy you were able to find your family again. Good luck and hoping the situation in Ukraine gets sorted out!

    June 21, 2014
  6. Viktor #

    Our family had a vacation in Lviv last autumn. Overall impression – very pleasant atmosphere in the city, we felt really relaxed and comfortable, weather – quite warm for October. There was everything for a good rest: different city tours, cafes and restaurants – countless number, and malls for shopping. Many places to stay. We rented a large apartment on the We liked the location and photo and were not disappointed when arrived. P.S. Try delicious mulled wine and hot chocolate in «Zoloty Ducat» cafe. I recommend them to everyone.

    July 11, 2016
  7. Maks #

    Lviv is small town, but very impressive, with the interesting architecture and atmosphere of the central streets. We had amazing time at Oksana’s and Dmytro apartment, the place was really great and comfortable – we felt like at home from the moment we stepped into the apartment. The hosts even decorated the fireplace with a special Christmas garland. Dmytro is very nice and helpful, and it was a pleasure to stay at his place. The location is very good, with only 7-minute walk to the main Rynok square. The view from the living room is very beautiful, with a very feel-like-Lviv atmosphere.

    July 23, 2016

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