Six Degrees in Kiev and Bacon
January 12, 2010 12:37 AM   Subscribe

I'll be in Lviv and Kiev, Ukraine and Lublin, Poland for the last two weeks of January, and I'm curious about food and sightseeing options.

Re: food, I'm a fan of cake at little cafés, folk-y restaurants, little carts that sell hot beet soup on the side of the road (if these exist), local markets, and anything that I wouldn't find at home (which is northwest Poland). (Also: local beer recommendations? I love this one.)

Sightseeing-wise, I'm cool with the cold (heh) but obviously being well-heated is nice. Hidden gems, worthwile tourist traps? I like gold-domed cathedrals, quietly beautiful cemeteries, abandoned theme parks, and cobblestones.

I speak quite a bit of Polish and can read Ukrainian (often but not always), and I'll have a local phone and internet access, too.

posted by mdonley to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I sent out some feelers to friends about Lviv, but one thing worth seeing is the amazing Lychakiv Cemetery, which includes the Cemetery of Eaglets. The two have completely different styles and go great together. The Lviv Opera is nice, but the square in front of it is a bustle of activity. I sat on a bench for a few minutes one day, a couple people started gathering. Then they started singing. They sang a few songs, gave themselves a round of applause then dispersed as if nothing had happened.

I'm not too up on Lublin, as I've only been there twice and never for more than a few hours at a go. This place seems it might be what you're looking for thought, especially looking at the reviews.

Since you're going to be in the area, consider traveling to Kazimierz Dolny. It's a picturesque town only 60km from Lublin and it's nice enough for a bunch of my friends and family to travel there from Warsaw a couple times a year.
posted by jedrek at 6:26 AM on January 12, 2010

Best answer: My roommate's Ukranian -- I'll ask him.

One thing I do know is that these days the preferred spelling is "Kyiv" rather than "Kiev."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:17 AM on January 12, 2010

Best answer: The Monastery of the Caves in Kiev is certainly worth a visit:

posted by dabug at 9:33 AM on January 12, 2010

Best answer: The In your Pocket guide for Lviv was quite helpful when I was there; there's one for Kyiv and Lublin as well.

There's a tall hill just northeast of Lviv's old town with a spectacular view of the city; it's a good hike.

There's a Jewish restaurant in the old town that is fantastic. As far as cafes, I heartily recommend Pid Synioiu Pliashkoiu - it's tucked away behind a crumbling building, a sort of Austro-Hungarian place with amazing Viennese coffee.

A few places there serve absinthe, if you're into that...

Have a great time!
posted by mammary16 at 9:34 AM on January 12, 2010

This may be further afield than you want, but if I was in that part of the world I would take a trip to the Białowieża Forest. It is one of the last remaining parts of the primeval forests that once covered Europe.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:19 PM on January 12, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the advice! We ended up just going to Kiev and Lviv and had a fabulous time.

In Lviv, I HIGHLY recommend the cemetery mentioned by Jedrek above, and in Kiev, don't miss the World War II memorial, which is a bit of a beast to get to if your map isn't great (get to Arsenalna metro, then take a bus/minibus south past Lavra, the monastery complex; the stop is called "Heroes Museum" or something to that effect).

And one other tip! Buy a little pocket atlas/map for Lviv and Kiev in the train station or a bookstore before you start exploring - BUT make sure it's got street names in UKRAINIAN, not Russian - we could have saved ourselves a lot of sounding-out-the-letters-and-guessing hassle this way!
posted by mdonley at 7:03 AM on January 25, 2010

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