Spread over a number of floors with erm gas lamps providing illumination, this bar has a really nice vibe and a great roof terrace with views of the Armenian Cathedral and Town Hall.
The beer was good and the cocktails bizarrely came served in laboratory beakers, but the beer snacks were excellent. One word of warning: the very steep stairs after a few!
Open 11 - 02
20 Virmenska Street
+380 32 235 7550
Dzyga is an arty cafe-bar at the northern end of Virmenska. You can't miss it as the street is a dead end and the bar is at the very end! It's only a stones throw from the Rynok and is quieter and has some nice views. It's a nice place to start or end the night sitting outside in the atmospheric old Armenian quarter. If it's not the weather to sit outside the inside was cool too with lots of local art on display. The beer was a good local wheatbeer and washed down the pork fat in chocolate perfectly - which is not as bad as it sounds - I had to give it a try. The rest of the food that we tried (the bar was located just below our apartment) was good - the breakfast and ice-cream mainly!
35, Virmenska street, Lviv, Ukraine
+38 32 276 7420, dzyga.com
This mid-range hotel set right in the historic centre of Lviv is excellent value for money (about 40 euros for a double room). There's free wifi throughout the hotel and you can indulge in a hearty breakfast in Cafe Wien downstairs, which includes delicious Austrian desserts. Yes - for breakfast!
An independent apartment rental agency with some fantastic flats in Lviv.
We stayed in one for four nights on Virmenska, it was beautiful and the pictures of the sight did not do it justice at all. The price was excellent value for such an atmospheric and central location.
We changed travel plans and stayed in Lviv again on our return journey and stayed in another of the agency's apartments on The Rynok. This was a modern airy apartment with a great view over the main square.
Both apartments were spacious and well decorated. They had TV, DVD and kitchens as well as a washing machine.
Svetlana, the company contact in Ukraine was very very helpful throughout and gave me some other tips for our trip into the Carpathians and Ivano Frankivsk.
The preferred method for payment of deposit was Western Union, but if you don't like that then I negotiated to use a company in the UK to pay by credit card.
A series of tunnels dug under the city - the mines from which the stones for the city's construction were taken. The city is riddled with catacombs - normally the haunt of junkies and down and outs - but outside the city the catacombs operate as a museum.
These tunnels were used by partisans as a base to launch raids against the German and Romanian occupiers. The tunnels are dark and dank and still contain the personal belongings and equipment of the partisans who lived, fought and died there.
The walls are carved with graffiti that is either political or personal (and sentimental) and overall a visit is both a moving as well as interesting experience. It is only possible with a guided tour as the tunnels are confusing and it is easy to get lost.
Above ground is a rather down at heel museum with a few rusty weapons and some interesting, but faded, photographs. Sadly both the tour guide and museum captions are Russian language only.
The only way to get there is by an excursion bus from Odessa city centre. The buses leave at about 1000hrs from outside Odessa Railway Station - little old ladies in the square outside the station sell tickets and can be quite helpful (though generally they only speak Russian). The journey to the catacombs by minibus (included in the ticket price) takes about 40 minutes and the tour itself is about an hour.
Built for the 1980 Moscow Olympics this cable car takes you down hill to the beach in Odessa. It is Soviet era, 1970's engineering and you have to hop onto what looks like an individual, oversized, rusty metal bucket hanging from a cable. It then takes you on a squeaking, jolting, wind blown ride down the hill, over the woods and to the beach. A nerve-wrecking five minute trip - what a blast! A great view, but you're so terrified you hardly notice.
On Francuski Boulevard, Odessa - on the number 5 tram line towards Arcadia. Ask or look out for 'Kanatnaya Doroga' ('Rope Road').
A wonderful restaurant in the grounds of a Santorium along Fransuski Boulevard (take the number 5 tram towards Arcadia). An old summer residence of the rich and powerful that was incorporated into one of the many Soviet-era sanitoria in the city. Now it is renovated and operates as one of the best restaurants in Odessa.
The style is Csarist-era country house and the food is upmarket, fine dining versions of Russian/Ukrainian favourites such as borsch, pelmeni and shashlik. A perfect place to have a long summer lunch in the garden with friends - and don't forget their wonderful home made lemonade.
Francuski Boulevard, Odessa, Ukraine. Take the number 5 tram towards Arcadia and get off the tram near the 'Vash Sad' garden centre.
During the Soviet era Balaklava was completely closed to anyone who didn't live there. The reason is the former Soviet nuclear submarine base burrowed into the cliff under the Tavros mountain. It is now a museum which includes a tour of the James Bond movie-like submarine tunnel and dry dock. Good value and a good opportunity escape the high summer Crimea heat.
Tavricheskaya Quay 22, Balaklava
Salieri is a new but wonderfully placed art-cafe in the heart of Odessa. An inconspicuous entrance opposite the Mozart hotel, the back opens up to a beautiful old courtyard recently renovated at the back entrance to the Odessa opera house. Meals are very good and reasonable prices - main courses for under £5. As always in Odessa, 75% of the menu is dedicated to alcohol! Just a wonderful place to go and relax.
Langeronoskay str. Odessa
or walk round the back from the left side of the opera house.
Visiting here now puts one in mind of the heyday of the typical English seaside resort. It’s the tiny patch of beach next to the harbour that all the locals crowd together on (there’s ample beach further afield); it’s the promenade along which everyone walks eyeing each other up and down; above all it’s the ‘comical characters’ painted on boards that have holes for you to stick your head through and have your photo taken. On a fine day, though, it’s all very pleasant, with the sun, the sea air and a harbour sporting some fine looking boats; it has a pervasive air of enjoyment that can’t fail to put you in a good mood.
Just head down towards the harbour
At the bidding of Catherine the Great, Rastrelli, the Italian architect famous not least for the Winter Palace in St Petersburg, built this church in honour of Kiev’s most famous saint. Quite what he did wrong, I can’t imagine, but upon seeing the finished article she sacked him. Most visitors however seem to regard this as one of Kiev’s finest sights though inside it’s a museum, not a working church any longer.
Built in the 19th century, this white-walled church is not of the golden onion-dome variety, but its Byzantine style is still quite pleasing to the eye. During WW2 Sevastopol suffered heavy damage and if you look carefully you can see the bullet holes that still remain on the sides of the building.
Towards the Chersonesus area along Pozharova, about 10 minutes from the centre;
Standing in the village whose name it takes, this Muslim khan’s palace is one of the highlights of the Crimea. It was built in the 16th-century and became home to a succession of Tatar Khans. A complex of buildings sits in a walled enclosure including a mosque, a harem and the living quarters. Pleasant gardens surround the buildings and today it seems an incredibly tranquil place – as long as you visit outside of peak tourist times. T
he interiors of the living quarters are beautiful and one fountain in a small courtyard hides a sad story which so moved the Russian writer Pushkin when he visited here that he wrote a whole poem to it – The Fountain of Bakhchisarai.
This was my first encounter with an Islamic domain and I have to say that I found it a very beguiling one.
The village is on the Sevastopol – Simferopol road, equidistant between the two. Guided trips are fine, but beware the tourist hordes;
The hotel is on a corner across from the statue to the Virgin Mary.
It was inexpensive - around 18 euros for a double room - clean, and they let me park my Honda Goldwing in the foyer.
In the central area of Lviv. On the corner opposite the statue
This is a purpose built structure to house the famous Sevastopol panorama, which depicts the siege of Sevastopol in the Crimean War. On the inside of the circular wall, a 360 degree canvas is mounted showing the battlefield from the top of a hill. Spectators walk around this interior as though they are standing on the hill observing the action.
It’s all well presented and gives a very good impression of what mid 19th-century warfare must have looked like. On the lower floor is a museum and the surrounding park includes some artillery installations that point out over the adjacent valley.
IIf you’re looking for some good local beer, then try this bar – the name means ‘good beer’. It also serves other drinks of course, and very reasonably priced food. There are plenty of seats and it usually has a lively atmosphere, as it is populated by enthusiastic locals.
Kulikovo Pole is a square and park just near the station. It is dominated by a 10 metre high statue of Lenin and still attracts communist demonstrations and many war veterans gather here on May 9 (Victory Day). The view down the tree-lined route towards the station is dramatic, taking in both Lenin and the silver domes of the Andryvska Podvore orthodox church. At the bottom end of the square, in Lenin Park, is a second hand book market where you will find Russian versions of classic novels mixed in with dusty copies of books with titles like: “Tungsten Bearing Manufacture in the Soviet Union - a Guide for Schools”.
Kulikovo Pole Square, near central station; www.essentialukraine.com
If you are a fan of Bulgakov's cult classic novel, The Master and Margarita, then this is an essential visit when in Kiev. Bulgakov's house has been preserved as this small museum. However, true to the spirit of his writing, not all is as it seems...
Andriyisky Uzviz 13; open: 10am-5pm;
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