On Saturday evening I boarded the night train from Kyiv to Lviv with one of my best friends for a weekend adventure. We rode coupe (купе), an equivalent of second class, which is four people to a cabin– two sleeping bunks on each side with a table in the center for eight hours. The ten-hour ride back to Kyiv was much more charming, because we rode platzkart (плацкарт), which is nearly the equivalent of sharing one giant dorm room with 50+ strangers in open bunks. The last time I rode platzkart was two summers ago from St. Petersburg to Moscow, and that bunch was not nearly as lively as this group, but then again it greatly depends on your immediate neighbors: who is sleeping above, below or across from you. If you want to actually sleep, coupe is a better option, but platzkart is definitely the more fascinating ‘local’ option.
We arrived in Lviv the following morning before the city was awake. By eight am the streets gathered a little traffic with church services commencing. We spent the majority of our two days sightseeing, drinking entirely too much coffee and I didn’t expect it, but hiking to various rooftops with incredible panoramic views. Two example locations are in photos 4-6, which are from a six-floor cafe in the old city, and photos 8-12 are views from the clock tower of the administration building directly in the center of the old city in Renok Square.
Lviv unmistakably embraces a stronger ‘historical’ charm than Kyiv. I was immediately reminded of my trips to Krakow, Poland and Prague, Czech Republic. Kyiv is absolutely filled with history, but in terms of architecture and its consequential atmosphere, there is a greater (chaotic at times) mixture of pre-twentieth century, Soviet and contemporary edifices when you document a single street near the city center of the capital. Lviv certainly has its share of twentieth-century architecture, but reserved for the rings outside of the old city. Also, Lviv’s center with buildings dating back to the thirteenth century has not suffered the damage that many other Ukrainian cities have with wars, which has not accordingly prompted newer building styles to be constructed there. I especially noticed a lot of Baroque architecture and curiously back in Kyiv, there appears to be a Neo-Baroque revival style in several of the new apartment building complexes near the Andriyivsky Descent.