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I have always wanted to visit Ukraine, and especially Lviv, as it is a beautiful city with a great art legacy. Visiting Lviv in 2023, I didn't experience any of the effects of the war, but the reminders were there. However, through it all, the people are incredibly kind.  I enjoy meeting people from all over when I travel.  But; meeting people here, and listening to their stories, took on a new significance.  From the artist family that lost everything, to the student afraid to graduate and be drafted, to the photojournalist telling me about the elderly stuck behind enemy lines. 

In the midst of it all, there is still kindness. More than once, I had random people ask me if I needed help.  The art director that helped me with translation for an hour at the special exhibition because it was all in Ukrainian.  The woman at the station that asked where I was going and made sure I found the right platform.  The other passenger on the bus that noticed my seat neighbor was unwell, and made sure I got a more comfortable seat.  Just people going out of their way to make sure I ( a total stranger) was okay, 

I will definitely return to Ukraine. I hope on my next visit, these people have less to worry about!

Church of the Transfiguration interior.jpg

Beautiful Culture

Eastern Europe always provides a lovely mix of East and West

Prepared for War

Even at times when it is peaceful, sadly, there are reminders of the danger that is always in the background.  Like the protective covering of the church windows here. 

Latyns'kyy Cathedral.jpg

Getting to and from Ukraine

Planes are not an option at the moment, but limited trains do run between Krakow and Lviv, then onto Kiev.  If the limited train schedule doesn't fit for you, there are plenty of busses between Poland and Ukraine.  I used Flixbus, and went from Warsaw to Lviv; then from Lviv to Krakow.  For me, the crossing in took about an hour, and out took about 3.5 hours. Other passengers that I met talked about times that were much longer, so I feel fortunate. 

Crossing border from Poland to Ukraine – land border by bus at the Hrebenne crossing

Bus pulls up to the border immigration office and everyone gets out to go through immigration windows. After getting your passport stamped out of Poland, you exit the small building out the other side and wait for everyone to finish.

Once everyone has their papers, the inspector checks the bus, then the driver pulls forward through the gate, and everyone gets back on board.  Fortunately, there was no lone at all when we arrived, so this process only took 25 minutes.

Next, the bus pulls forward for 2-3 minutes to the Ukrainian side.  On this side, the immigration officials board the bus and collect everyone’s documents and take them inside. All you have to do is sit on the bus and wait. 35 minutes later, the driver returned with everyone’s stamped papers, and we were able to continue down the road.

The whole process took just over 1 hour. But, again, there was no line at all when we arrived. I was told by other passengers that, normally, it takes 2-3 hours. And can take as much as 5 in extremely busy times.    

Notably, the lines for exiting Ukraine were much longer. And, the lines for trucks exiting Ukraine heading for Poland was the longest I have seen yet in my travels.  I counted 15 miles (25 kms).

From Ukraine to Poland – land border by bus at the Krakovets crossing

Arrive at the border, and sit and wait in the bus for 30 minutes.  Nobody seems to be passing the border at the moment.  Finally, get off the bus, take your suitcase and go through passport control exiting Ukraine.  (Nobody actually checked the luggage). It took 25 minutes for the busload to go through immigration.
Then, we wait again for 10 minutes for the queue of vehicles to move. Once it moves, we move forward through the gate, and sit and wait on the bus for an additional hour and 45 minutes.

Finally, we get off the bus again, with our bags to go through immigration on the Poland side. This time, they do inspect our bags through a scanner, and inspect the bus before we can move along.  Immigration and inspection on the Poland side took 50 minutes.

The entire process was about 3 ½ hours.  

Getting around Lviv

Lviv center isn't as big as I thought, so much of it was walkable.  I only used other transportation going back and forth from the bus station.

When I arrived, I was tired from a long bus ride, so I just ordered an incredibly affordable Uber! From the station to my hotel in the center was under $5 including tip.

However, the public transportation was even more affordable.  Tickets for the tram and busses can be bought from the driver on board. it is 10 UAH (27 cents).  There is supposed to be an extra 10 UAH charge for a suitcase but I wasn't charged for that. You will want something close to exact change. On the tram there is a little tray behind the driver.  Just put your money in, push the tray forward; and they will return the tray with your ticket, and change if necessary. Then, validate your ticket by punching it with the red stoppers you see on the wall. (yes, they look like an emergency button, but they are not).      

There is a ticket machine on board also, but I could not get it to work. And, from what I could tell, nobody else used it either. Finally, there is a QR code pictured on the walls to pay, but as my stay was brief I didn't bother to download the necessary app.  

Lviv National Art Gallery 

The art gallery is supposed to be impressive, but when the war broke out, the treasures were moved to safety and the gallery was closed. 

Soon after, Ukraine decided not to be bowed, and made sure there were special exhibitions available next door.  Also, the Potocki Palace now opens on weekends. 

The exhibitions I saw were local, contemporary artists and much of the work was quite good. And, if understood correctly, much of it was for sale. Too bad I don't have the space in my suitcase! 

The churches of Lviv

So many to choose from...and so beautiful. 

A couple of highlights are The Bernardine Monastery built in the early 17th century and St. George's, an 18th-century cathedral on the hill, with rococo yellow facade.  But, it seems like every time I turned a corner, there was another beautiful church.  One thing I really enjoyed about them is the use of sky blue ceilings. It creates a really an uplifting feeling.

St George's Cathedral.jpg
St George's Cathedral 2.jpg
Bernardine Monastery.jpg
Bernardine Monastery interior.jpg
Church of the Transfiguration.jpg
Church of the Holy Eucharist.jpg

Streets and Squares

One of the reasons Lviv is so beautiful is the architecture that abounds through Old Town. Just walking the streets or hanging out in a plaza admiring the wonderful buildings. 

Rynok Square 3.jpg
Rynok Square 2.jpg
Lviv national Opera.jpg
House of Scientists.jpg
Powder Tower and Church of the Discalced Carmelites.jpg
Mykoly Kopernyka Street.jpg


Certainly a better option when it is warmer, but there are many parks throughout the city to stroll and enjoy. 

From the 18th century Ivan Franko Park just outside the center to the huge Stryiskyi Park that includes a botanical garden to the hillside Park-Pam'yatka overlooking the city.  Plenty of options for a warm summer evening stroll or just a place to have lunch. 

Stryiskyi Park.jpg
Monument to Ivan Franko.jpg
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