WEDNESDAY JULY 23
It rained last night and this morning it is cloudy. Across from a busy vegetable and flower market is Saint Bernadine's Church. A service is in progress and because many locals are worshipping, we stay at the rear of the church. Due to our position, we cannot see all the wooden altars, but get a good view of the lovely frescoes covering the high ceiling. and of the paintings that adorn the walls and columns. Numerous golden cherubs and statues add glitter to the tall arched columns that are decorated with gold coloured metal or maybe paint. Interestingly, Bill and I agree, that one statue has a black face, a Byzantine influence.
Around the back, we find an interesting old monastery well and Bill draws my attention to a wooden catwalk. Along the walkway are many cells with tiny windows, that were once monks quarters. We enter the interior courtyard and walk to it's end. The Bernadine Monastery originally built in the sixteen hundreds, appears to be closed down and turned into accommodations for folks. An underpass takes us through the thick fortification walls. On the street we can appreciate the breadth of the immense defensive wall. Across the street a building catches my eye, but a long barricade to pedestrians ensures I use the crosswalk. The round-about trip brings us to a locked museum. We reverse our direction and more walking brings us to what we think is the Church of the Barefoot Carmelites. A young man spends a long time weeping and praying at the entrance of a locked gate. In order to provide him with privacy, we explore the remains of an adjacent defence wall. When he leaves we peer through the bars of the gate at a predominately blue/grey sparsely decorated interior.
With Bill's excellent navigational skills we finally arrive in the vicinity of where we originally set out to be. I am totally confused as to what I am looking at and notes are of no use without pictures. At least the sun is shining as I spread my pages at the base of a nice statue. We spend ages reading the material and nearby street signs trying to determine our position. O.K. to my left is the 65 metre Kornyakt Tower and the dark basilica like building must be the Gunpowder Tower. To my right is the Royal Arsenal and behind that crowned with a large green dome is the Dominican Catholic Church. The church has stately columns gracing the entrance and numerous statues loom high above. Various statues adorn the protruding chapels. Indoors there are more imposing columns and some interesting gold painted wooden sculptures and paintings on the walls, but other than that is not particularly impressive. Possibly all that beige paint made it appear less attractive. We are offered a tour of the museum, but time is running short as we have to return to vacate our hotel room. The little chapel attached is nice but the door is locked. Try as we may to find grapevine relief on the ornate façade, we do not, but eventually we make some up and I decide this must be the Three Saints Chapel. On our way back to the hotel, we pass an interesting building. Bill thought it may be a fire hall, but we will never know. As we walk, I feel something crawling on my left shoulder. Another irritation is added as the bug bites me. Bags are stored and I find that the cost of the room has risen two dollars a day since we registered. Lesson of the day is to pay the bill when you arrive.
The train back to Kyiv does not leave until evening and as I am determined to find the Uspenska Church which the guidebooks tout as a must see, we retrace steps past the Marionette Theatre -- again--. Bill has certainly garnered points for patience. Along our route part of the road has been washed away in last nights rainstorm. We shake our heads in disbelief as idiots in cars insist on navigating around the barricades and mud rather than take a different route. At the bus stop by what I believe to be the Gunpowder Tower we ask what this building is. Well, boy, was I wrong in my assessment of where we were earlier today. It is the Uspenska Church and we can gain entrance through the courtyard. The entry to the courtyard had been blocked by a truck when we were here before, otherwise we would have entered to explore what was hidden there. Here too is the Three Saints Chapel and it does indeed have a magnificent stone grapevine relief at the entrance. The grape motif is carried into the chapel as the ceiling is covered with painted bunches of grapes. Renovations are in progress and we have interrupted workmen who are eating lunch. I get the feeling we are intruding, so with the exception of the icons and murals visible as we enter, we see little of the chapel. It is not nearly as spectacular as the Boyim Chapel, but it is a quaint little building and well worth the visit. Through a small window close to the ceiling, we can see part of a stained- glass window next door. Aha! Finally we enter the elusive church. This is definitely a WOW place, but unfortunately I am told I am not permitted to take photographs. The interior is bright and colourful. Magnificent paintings adorn the walls. At the far end is a most beautiful mauve stained-glass window depicting Mary. I am dazzled by the sunlight streaming through the various colours of glass.
Yo! Across the street is the Gun Powder Tower. It is situated in a park like setting and so was obliterated by the trees. As we are climbing a few steps, I feel something up my sleeve and instinctively smack my arm. Minutes after picking a dead bug off, my arm starts to swell. It is obvious that my right arm is meant to be rendered useless as the original bee sting has just recently settled. We encircle the site and unless you are keen on ancient fortifications, this spot can be missed on a tour. Further along Pidvalna Street we find the Municipal Arsenal. The museum is closed. I am thinking I may have to return to L'viv to see all the sights I missed.
Near the Bernadine Church we wait on Vulytsia Lychakivska for a tram to the Lychakiv cemetery. Many trams come and go, but we wait about fifteen minutes for our number. To pass the time we people watch. Kiosks sell cigarettes one at a time for those who cannot afford a package. A vendor selling sunflower seeds is eating her profits. We have noted that most sellers of nuts and berries appear to consume more than they sell. Shortly a man approaches and gives her heck for making a mess of the street. The yelling and the shaking of fists is a delightful distraction.
At the entrance to the cemetery are three men sitting under a patio umbrella. We arrive at the same time as two Ukrainian women. The money man states it costs one hryvnia pp to enter. The women ahead offer the money but are told they may pay on their way out. I am hit up for two hryvnia pp "NOW". Anyway, it was worth the money as the cemetery has many very interesting old tombstones as well as some weird modern ones. Statues ran the gamut from angels to large lions. One grave had one sleeping and one awake lion. Another neat grave had sleeping dogs on either side the tomb. Along with the famous such as Ivan Franko and a sports figure there were superb tombstones that indicated what the persons vocation was. A young man in a sailor suit near an anchor, A scholar holding a book, and many military personnel with their medals embossed on their chest. Others state what the deceased worked at, such as doctors and architects. The sculptured or engraved faces were all unique so presumably they were portraits. My mother was upset whenever friends were buried at the base of a cemetery because they would lay in the boloto (mud), so it is not surprising to find the oldest part of the cemetery at the highest point. Many of the grave sites are overgrown with foliage and are home to enormous snails. Sadly, many old monuments are crumbling. There are a few enormous mausoleums and many large sarcophagi. An extensive area contained identical markers dating from 1919 to 1930's. Beyond this spot we found a stone sculpture of a man with long hair, a sword at his waist, dressed in boots and holding a flag. It was difficult to make out but the date may have been 1861. Stones were in a pile and names were hammered into a stone tablet. I wonder if this was a mass grave and the area surrounding a military cemetery. We spent almost three hours wandering around as the cemetery covers many acres.
We get off the tram at the craft fair. There is lots of stuff to buy including a painting I really like but do not have much money in my wallet, so I just buy a few souvenirs. Interestingly vendors automatically translate the hryvnia price to US$ price. Again reference is made to the green paper I have in my purse. I decide that they know I am a tourist because I am the only woman in Ukraine wearing running shoes and bobby socks. Even Bill remarks on how well the women are dressed. Most women wear platform shoes and silk pants are popular for men. With a little time left, we wander into shops near the hotel. The prices are similar to those at the craft bazaar. A wooden box similar to the one Olya gave me cost $20.00 Hand made shirts like she embroidered run between $50.00 to $85.00. I had considered that I would purchase a piece of Amber while in Ukraine and although I found some for sale, it was of poor quality. Despite a relatively extensive search for postcards, we are not successful in finding any and I now wish I had taken more photos.
Olya had said she would come to see us off, so at about 1830 we take a cab to the train station. It is a palatial looking building. Inside is a huge information board, but our train is not listed. I try a number of avenues to get information on what track we leave from, but not a soul knows anything. We sit outdoors as it is hot in the building and amuse ourselves by watching the travelers come and go. L'viv station is almost as busy as the one in Kyiv. Bill spots Olya's blond hair. She and her nephew had left Kalush at 1100 and arrived at 1600. She had been waiting on our platform, so it is unfortunate that I chose to explore two other platforms and missed meeting up with her earlier. She has brought home-made cheese and a huge sponge cake with layers of cream cheese, pudding and jam. Improvising, she has safely secured the torte in Stepan's old hat box. On my last visit, I noted that stores did not provide a bag to carry what was purchased, so when I sent parcels, I always included hefty plastic bags. Now stores do have plastic bags. Interestingly, they usually have advertising for Marlborough cigarettes or some such item stamped on the bags.
They board the train with us to see our accommodation. I demonstrate how well the door locks. Locked all too well – I cannot unlock it. Olya panics, calling out and hammering on the door. Bill finally unlocks the latch and I feel badly that I frightened her so. We wave goodbye until we are out of view.
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