Day 9: Final day in Ukraine
Lviv Travel Blog› entry 11 of 260 › view all entries
April 14th, 2010 – by: Biedjee
The apartment may not have been the nicest or cleanest, there is no denying Vladimir's service is excellent.
Lviv is home to the oldest still working brewery in Europe (wouldn't that also make it the oldest brewery in the world then?). Founded in 1715 the Lvivske brewery is still producing some high quality beers to this day. The still working brewery also houses a small museum.
When the taxi dropped me off at the brewery I thought I had made a mistake.
The guard let out a sigh and came out of his booth, through the electric gate and snatched the phone from my hand and started dialling a number. Then he handed it back to me.
A lady picked up the phone and I asked her in my best Russian if she spoke English and whether it was possible to visit the museum today. This sounded approximately like this: “Anglisky? Museum? Hello?”
The lady said something back and then hung up.
Flabbergasted I looked at the guard and started to make my way to the door again. He motioned me to stay though, and not before long an old lady walked in to the office. She started talking in Ukrainian to me, and I asked her again: “Museum?”
She nodded and she let me in.
We walked into the brewery grounds and she pointed at an ancient lorry and said to me “photo?”
Yeah, sure, why not, I'll make a photo of it.
I had no idea what to expect of this museum, but if she was going to give me a tour around the brewery this could be interesting... tedious, but interesting.
Quickly as that she disappeared again and was replaced by a much younger and better looking version, who actually spoked a couple of words of English. Her main task was just to get me to the ticket office though, where I paid for my ticket and she left as quickly as she had appeared.
Museum was self guided and fortunately there were plenty of signs in English. The museum focuses more on the history of beer brewing, rather than the process of brewing itself. Quite a refreshing change from other beer museums I have been to, which always seem to be telling the same story about how beer is made.
The museum is quite small though, and after about 20 minutes I had seen it all, and arrived at the bar to claim my free sample for tasting. Now normally at such a tasting you only get a small glass to try, not so at Lvivsky, here I got a full glass of pilsener to enjoy in the cosy (but very empty) tasting room. But that was not all, as I was sipping my drink, the old lady who had first let me in to the complex came to bring me another glass to try, a weizener this time. So that's 2 pints for a mere 1.
The tour ended with a short film about the history of Lvivske brewery which was a bit too much propaganda for my liking. Not that I am complaining though - hey, I just had a couple of excellent beers.
From the museum I entered a cavernous old underground storage vault which has been transferred into a popular bar and club. Had I had more time I would have stayed and sampled the other brews Lvivsky has to offer, but unfortunately I had to go, as I had a bus to catch!
I hailed a taxi outside the museum and to my surprise this one actually featured a meter! A metered taxi in Ukraine, that is definitely a rarity. As a meter prevents a taxi driver (somewhat) from ripping you off, I ordered this taxi to drive me to bus station as well later that afternoon.
Back in the centre I had just enough time for a quick coffee and a bite to eat, before it was time to get my luggage out of the apartment and travel to the bus station, in order to catch the bus to the next country: Moldova!
So last thoughts on Ukraine? Well, I quite liked the country, thought it is hard to explain why. There is no denying that travelling to Ukraine without the ability to speak Russian can be a lonely experience. Apart from the usual hotel/taxi/restaurant encounters I had only met three people with whom I had had a conversation which lasted more than 2 minutes. Yet at least most of the people I met at least tried to understand what I was after and some were even helpful.
The three cities I visited gave me a good impression of what this country has to offer. From the rebuilt sacred sites in Kyiv, to the bustling coastal city life of Odessa, to the absolutely stunning historical centre of Lviv.
As for the (in)famous Ukrainian women. Well, they certainly added a nice bonus to the sightseeing. I mean, watching dilapidated old buildings becomes a lot more fun when there are click-clacking high heels and mini-skirts everywhere around you. I can only imagine what a city like Odessa must look like in summer. I won't be using the services of a Ukrainian rent-a-bride service any time soon though.
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