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A Tale in Two Cities

Updated: Feb 24, 2022

A nuptial celebration in Chernivtsi comes in the form of a lavish reception with limitless quantities of flowers, food and alcohol, professionally prepared by tireless young house teams. In other words, a Bukovina Wedding!

A Practical Tradition

Contributions equivalent to £50 sterling are presented to the groom by the guests, waiting in line for their turn to wish the couple well. A sensible arrangement for one of life’s major outlays! For the guests, It’s unbeatable value and the result, a super weekend for all.

Day one.

A first class dinner at a glamorous venue is accompanied by live music and an entertaining commentary from a renowned personality, whose duty it is, to honour the couple with an hour of tactful humour. A break in proceedings reveals the Ukraine competitive spirit. Ukrainian hryvnia, flows like the vodka, as slices of wedding cake are auctioned in a fervour of excessive bidding.

At the end of the evening all remaining food (enough for another day’s consumption) is discretely removed by the gloved staff in preparation for tomorrow’s buffet.

Day two and the celebrations continue at a chilly lakeside venue in the country, where treading floorboards is the gameplay ...also the only way to keep warm!

All the while the same attentive staff from last night are topping up the already substantial buffet table with more fresh food and beverage. The music …retro euro and Hopak (Traditional Cossack), and why not! It has everyone on their feet.

Love Lvov for its city full off atmosphere and entertainment. Loath Lvov for its traffic congestion.

As a guest of the Ukraine national cycling team here at the velodrome, I’ve just enjoyed the unique racing commentary of Ukraine’s ever popular Nataliia Kuznetsova,

The days events ran smoothly and without incident leaving the national team doctor without any patients and so ...Natasha draws her attention to my own creaking framework, to which ...I think, I’m grateful!

Phenomenal! I mean the pain, as she wrenches my torso back and forth causing the vertebrae to crackle vehemently! Respect for her skill though, as I come away convinced I can compete with these exceptionally fit youngsters!

City Life

A pastiche of ingredients fill the air with their perfume, conjuring a passion to live and thrive in a city where everything seems to be happening.

Along the chinsey avenues, babooshkas beckon with their fruit and veg, Hari Chrustna devotees dance alongside a samba carnival parading the cobbled walkways of the old city, artists rehearse their performance outside the opera house, and then there’s the coffee house music, all vying for the attention and money from the public, while the eating houses, gastro restaurants and street food traders, vie for cash by tempting your stomach.

Right now, I'm enjoying live jazz with a salad, exceptional vinaigrette and fries, served with the leaves and stems of the pea plant, plus a great local beer. Unusual, but a winner, an explosive combination on the taste buds, all for 208 hryvnia ...that's a fiver.

Churchill’s influence is clear to see here. His role in dividing country borders after WW2 included placing Lvov in Ukraine. It met with approval by many at the time, and several establishments still pay homage to the great icon today.

We happen to be in one such gastro pub, when bizarrely, an apperition of the man comes to grace our table. Of course not, this Churchill is from neighbouring Belarus and has his own views on the border line, but clearly aware of his famous doppelgänger. He impresses us with a characteristic, if dubious, British accent. "Mmmm iron curtain has descended..."

Trendy and fashion conscious youngsters, pose and compete, to look the coolest against a backdrop of a Lvov society whose only focus is surviving in this jungle of activity.

At the drop of a hat you can expose your senses to a heady street life and most genre all at once, intended or not! ...Hookah lounges (Middle East hubbub), coffee houses, hemp houses, beer taverns! Amsterdam has nothing on this place.

Only the traffic marginally spoils proceedings, that’s if you’re driving in, like me. Paris is easily relegated into second place and that’s saying something about Lvov, a much smaller city. ...Appalling road manners, drivers ignoring any highway codes that might be in existence, and above all, the jams. A better idea might be to make use of the tramways or taxis. Like Chernivtsi, it’s a city where the road infrastructure is undergoing a major makeover. A temporary inconvenience ...maybe!

Dracula’s Hounds

A profound presence in both cities are the dogs …mostly tagged.

Sleeping dogs lie in plant beds, on the pavement in packs and alone, all over both cities. The twilight barking resounds for some twenty minutes each evening. Occasionally howling with attitude but oddly comforting. Good night!

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