Sunday, October 12, 2008

Lyiv, Ukraine

They say Lyiv is the new Prague, the Florence of the East, or even comparable to Paris. All these comparisons are crass and a cheap way to attract tourist. It is a city of its own decadence. Lyiv has a rich history which is most noticeable in its architecture and churches (especially in the Armenian church). And even more fascinating is its the least Soviet city that I have visited in Ukraine.

The city center is popular amongst locals and has plenty of interesting museums along cobblestone roads. However, it is rough around the edges. If you travel outside the center you will be in contact with poverty, plenty of drunks, Romes, and busy roads with endless amounts of construction.

I walked around the city and went to the "Under Black Eagle" Pharmacy Museum filled with 8000 old bottles and formulas. The museum had a functional pharmacy that had been open since the 60's. The pharmacy itself was on the grounds of the old pharmacy that was run by a Ukrainian pharmacist named Mykhaylo Terletsky during the 1700's. I bought a bottle of the unique "Zalizne Vyno," or iron wine, which they make at the pharmacy from an ancient recipe.

There is an international theatrical festival called Golden Lion. I lucked out and got tickets to the Ukrainian ballet and watched a performance in the S. Krushelnytska Opera house.

I am leaving to Krakow tomorrow. They say that the border check takes about 3-4 hours if you take the bus or train. I am planning to walk across because its a lot faster and then I will hop on a bus on the Polish side. It will be an adventure.