Beauty in the East

GeorgeCant94 By GeorgeCant94, 16th Jul 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Europe>Ukraine>Kiev & Around

Lviv is a fabulous unearthed gem in a proudly beautiful, richly welcoming country Ukraine. Beneath the ground of this remarkable visual treasure hides a time capsule waiting to be discovered by people with some local knowledge and passion for adventure. 'Kryivka' is a cultural experience far more revealing than a history book; it is a show within a museum, and you are part of the act. You will never forget every moment bridging your end and your exit- unmissable.

Your unchartered territory!

The cobbled streets smoulder with the heat of the sun and the blaze of national pride. Lviv, Ukraine, a city swelling with the most breath-taking culture that takes inspiration from many different European empires, but retains its individuality through virtue of its sweetly accommodating citizens. With a mixture of both the stunning ‘Vienna pseudo-renaissance’ opera house and the dramatic Roman Catholic churches, all spotted by rushing monuments to legends such as Shevchenko and Halytsky, each street seems to have a different story to tell, a different identity to share, a unique heartbeat that throbs with its own life.
Hiding laconically in this city of dancing architecture and glorious statues lies one of Europe’s best kept secrets. Maybe I shouldn’t even be sharing this, but such an inimitable experience certainly powers the wanderlust and validates my use of the term ‘unforgettable’ to describe Lviv. ‘Kryivka’ isn’t just your normal Eastern European World War two themed restaurant. You won’t see it signposted on the street, slapped across billboards or fed to your hands from eager leaflet distributors. Its unorthodox approach defines its beauty- the entrance is merely a large wooden door in the back alley of a central street, and you must knock and announce a password to an armed guard to gain entry. This certainly isn’t happy hour at Cheers! But isn’t that the point of a themed restaurant? To transport you to another world? Kryivka does so remarkably well.
If you are accustomed to Ukrainian culture, you may have heard the phrase ‘Slava Ukrainy’ proudly voiced; perhaps you have also noticed the phrase succeeding it- ‘Geroyem Slava’? Here is your password, which means ‘Glory to Ukraine’- ‘Glory to the Heroes’. You will find yourself repeating these words in your mind as you nervously wait to be summoned from the large wooden entrance by the guard. Share in the anticipation as other people around you corroborate their password with you and the experience heightens; you feel the camaraderie of those brave soldiers in World War two entering a ‘Bandera Hideout’ together (World War two dugout). As you enter, the game is not given up; upon surrendering that well-rehearsed password to your immovably stoic guard you are given a mysterious drink and directed down the stairs, while the door you entered with such trepidation is bolted close behind you once more. Congratulations!
As you are led down a narrow stairway, the feeling of secluded shelter and isolation from our modern world is both disconcerting and uplifting at the same time. The mellow darkness gives both an aura of peace and an air of unpredictability to the view of your descent underground, you may hear traditional Ukrainian war marches, bells, whistles, and drums, gunshots, claps leering precariously beneath you, feeding your enthusiasm and fuelling your immersion. The buzz is contagious, and the smell of the smoking hot Ukrainian menu- a glorious range of soups, salads and meats with a subtle twist on our western pallets- illuminate the surrounding war memorials and weapons like a butterfly slaloming through a bat-cave.
Vacuums of hazy red flush through into your gaze and an opening of declining ceilings and war memorabilia presents itself fluidly.
One thing that doesn’t change however, is the friendliness and hospitality of the Ukrainian people. You are greeted, seated, and amply served with delicious, unique food and drink. The atmosphere is robust and lively; Ukrainian culture flows from the pages of the menu to the intricacy of the interior design- respectful and engaging, it will certainly give you inspiration to learn about this country’s fascinating history. Being military themed, you can expect a few general types shouting orders but this provides an extravagant respite to the engaging history lessons all around you. An older Ukrainian gentleman provides an amusing if startling expression of the rivalry with Russia which will give you a jump. But this place is truly a festering giant of the culture of Lviv, pocketed away without a sign- isn’t that where the coolest spots are to be found? Not so much off the beaten track as a closely located antithesis to the beaten track, it bubbles and brews with an anxious furore that must be seen and experienced to fully get the most out of this gorgeous, elegant city. Follow up your meal with a walk outside and collate the war artefacts with your sense of time and place and again be amazed. Climb the stairs and a mirage of scenes grab you, all bearing Lviv’s charismatic DNA; a view of the calmly energetic downtown and its countless treasures; a rooftop view of a Ukrainian metropolis seething with heart and life; finally, a city bounded by the extravagant power of the overlooking Carpassian mountains.
This rich diversity is contrasted by your final stop at the top of a tower with an ancient gun used by the Ukrainian military. Such a rewarding experience is this, both ethereal and contemplative, educational and entertaining, you will not want to climb. Jump off into Lviv and discover what it is hiding, they’d love for you to come and find out!


Artillery, Bunker, Drink, Kryivka, Lviv, Password, Russian Rivalry, Slava Ukrainy, Ukrainian City, Ukrainian Unrest, Underground, Unique, Unmissable, War Cry, War History

Meet the author

author avatar GeorgeCant94
Hailing from the UK but studying in America, I am a soccer player with a passion for travel, adventure, and the diversity and delicate balance that makes people so unique and richly interesting.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
23rd Jul 2014 (#)

Let the culture of this great place overcome the current troubles. A lovely review - siva

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