I paid for my travel to Ukraine, and was hosted by the Ibis Styles Lviv Center hotel.
Ukraine is the final country on my four-week journey through Europe, and my first stop was the western city of Lviv.
Lviv is western in more ways than one. Over the past century it has been a city in a) the Austro-Hungarian Empire; b) Poland; c) the USSR; d) independent Ukraine. This tumultuous history has bequeathed it some stunning architecture, and its entire city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Central Lviv reminded me very strongly of the Polish city of Kraków as it looked some 20 years ago; beauty to be seen everywhere, but also a lot of cracked pavers and peeling paint.
As someone mentioned to me on social media, it's as if Prague and Kraków had a beautiful little sister that no-one knew about. It's a striking place with a great number of harmonious 19th century facades. It feels as if a Central European city was unexpectedly shunted into Eastern Europe (which is more or less what happened).
Just as pleasant were the low low prices. I gained the first inkling of this on arrival when I caught a tram from the train station to the city centre; it cost 2 hryvnia, about 10 cents. I sent the next few days buying excellent meals for a few dollars, and enjoying Lviv's impressive cafe scene for even less than that.
If only the Ukrainian government would drop its visa requirement for Australians, we'd be there en masse. Even with the expensive visa ($157!), you effectively get your money back via the cheapness of everything on the ground. Even a room at the Ibis Styles, an attractive new hotel on the edge of the Old Town, is only $90 a night.
Here's a selection of photos from my stay in this impressive city...