top of page

Day 13: Lviv = Little Paris

Title a photo of a skyline over the title: Lviv = Little Paris on Day 13

I was riding the night train to Lviv, Ukraine. I had to get off the train at 4:40 AM, so I set my alarm and relaxed on my top bunk.

Just before I fell asleep, I wondered what would happen if I didn’t wake up for my stop. Where was this train going?

If I overslept, would I be able to find my way back to Lviv so I could exit the country with Luksaz and Jullia, or would I be on my own?

I’ve traveled many places by myself but didn’t want to be left on my own in a war zone.

I sent Luksaz a message to his bunk on this same train several cars ahead and asked if our train’s route ended in Lviv, or if it was a short stop.

He answered that it was a short stop and I should be ready to get off the train.


But… wait. What if my alarm didn’t go off?


I fell asleep and woke with a start. I had a dream that I exited the train in Belarus and was accidently wearing the colors red and white, and was thrown in jail.

Funny how bad dreams eavesdrop on your thoughts, isn’t it?

So I remained drowsy, but awake for the next seven hours: hello travel anxiety.

Luksaz arranged our hotel rooms in Lviv, so I didn’t worry about freshening up on the train. That could wait for the hotel.

An old building with lights on the lower level
(Chopin Hotel, Lviv Ukraine)

When we pulled up to the old hotel in a quiet square, it was dark. Closed.

How many hours would we have to wait for them to open? I really wanted a shower. I really wanted a nap. I needed to change my clothes.

Luksaz went into the hotel and came back triumphantly; he woke someone up.

The clerk was young and apologetic. Her voice was scratchy. She said it was more difficult to speak English right when waking.

Been there.

As I signed the credit card receipt for the room, she said that breakfast was served from 8 till 11.

Really? We arrived at 5:00 AM and were staying one night, but they weren’t charging us for checking in ten hours early and getting an extra free breakfast in the deal?

I handed Jullia my portion of the welcome chocolate and she added it to her purse, then had Luksaz get his too.


I found my way to the room. The hotel was listed as a four star hotel, but they lied. This was a five star experience.*

*Yes, my excitement over the hotel could have had something to do with lack of sleep.

My room was elegant with a color scheme, tasteful furniture and stocked with everything from free bottles of water to a sizable collection of toiletries. The oversized curtains easily covered the oversized windows; it would remain dark in here when the sun rose.


I showered, set an alarm for 8:30 and fell into a deep sleep.

No, I wasn’t in a waking mood when the alarm went off, but I had only one day and a night to wander Lviv and didn’t want to waste my time in a darkened hotel room.

A small pot of yogurt surrounded by eggs, sausages and fruit.
(Breakfast at the Chopin Hotel, Lviv, Ukraine)

After breakfast I approached the front desk and using my translation program asked the clerk which way I should walk.

She pointed to the left.

And so I started my adventure.

I wandered. I poked. I entered. I photographed. I café-d.

People walk down a steet in the city center.
(A street in Old Town, Lviv, Ukraine)

Lviv is known as ‘Little Paris’ for a reason: it is charming, beautiful, friendly and has a plethora of cafes, independent coffee houses and chocolatiers. Its architecture goes from renaissance to baroque to art deco; I took hundreds of photos.

dresses and shirts that are hand embroidered.
(A shop in Lviv, Ukraine that sells hand embroidered traditional dresses.)

Some people consider Lviv to be a capital of culture, and I could see why. Trendy shops sat next to stores selling traditional hand-embroidered clothing. The cobblestone streets gave a stark reminder that this city has a history; many buildings were built in the 13th century, it’s tram system dates back to the late 1800s.

An old woman holds flowers for sale in Lviv, Ukraine.
(A woman sells flowers on a street corner in Lviv, Ukraine.)

It fell under rule and/or occupation from Poland, Austria, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany before Ukraine gained its independence in 1991. We can only hope that this independence will continue for years to come.

There were plenty of other people who appeared to be visiting the city and had the time to sit for a cup of tea, too.

One waitress asked me what I was doing in Lviv.

I didn’t want to explain that our trip to Kiev was cut short due to full trains and that we wanted to give our friends, the mother and daughter at least one more day to enjoy their home visit. So we spent a night in Lviv and wouldn’t meet our friends until 2:00 the following day.

I told her that Lviv was beautiful, and I was happy to visit.


She smiled her biggest smile and asked if I had bought anything Ukrainian.

I asked for suggestions.

People stand outside a church.
People stand outside a church in Lviv, Ukraine. The churches are overcrowded.

She said that not many people were buying things in Ukraine and that sellers and stores were suffering. She sent me to the local market.

Embroidery. Keychains. Placemats. Dresses. Antiques. Art. Toilet paper with Putin’s picture on it.

I wanted to buy something but didn’t trust a shopping experience when the items weren’t priced.

A statue of a man riding a horse.
A statue in Lviv that hasn't been covered.

No. If I were going to shop, it had to be in a store with price tags.

After some more exploring, I happened into a fancy-dress shop. The owner greeted me and asked a question in Ukrainian.

Using my translation program, I told her I wanted a sleeveless top that wouldn’t wrinkle.

I thought she might throw me out of her shop since I was asking for the impossible, but she didn’t.

She nodded, accepting the challenge, held up one finger and went into a backroom.

I could hear her rummaging and wondered if she was sewing the shirt while I waited. Or maybe she had a dungeon of clothes that wouldn’t wrinkle.

She came out with a black shirt that was exactly what I was looking for. In my size. Cost: UAH: 219,36 or $6.00

Then she asked if she might find something with more color for me to try on.

Sure. I’ll try anything on. Once.

She returned to the back room. I could hear her moving things around. She came out and handed me a pink and green long-sleeved button-down shirt.

Um? Not my style.

I tend to wear solid colors, the darker the better. This shirt was like a neon flashing light that was a touch tacky and a touch wild.

Not wanting to appear ungrateful, I tried it in.

I kind of liked it. Who knew color could suit me? Maybe this is what I’d been lacking in my fashion choices: a salesclerk who knew better.

The shirt had a shine to it, totally not my style. But maybe I needed something wild. And it wouldn’t wrinkle, go figure.

A green and pink shirt.
My wild shirt.

If I bought it, would I wear it?

Not sure.

I checked the price tag. UAH: 548,40 or $15.00.

I considered it in the mirror. It did look good.

I exhaled slowly and decided to buy both tops.

Money spent: UAH: 767,26 02 $21.00

When it was time for her to ring me up, the clerk only charged me for the colorful top. I reminded her that I wanted both tops.

She looked at me carefully. After a moment she said in English, “Two?”

Yes, two.

She took out her translation program. “You want to buy the pink shirt and the black shirt.”

I nodded.

She rang me up, bagged the clothes and as she handed them to me she burst into tears and said several sentences.

I don’t know what she was saying. Whether it was, “Now I can feed my children” or “Now I can pay my rent” or “Now I’ve sold clothes to an American” didn’t matter.

It felt good to add money to an economy that was suffering under the strains of war.

To celebrate finding two shirts, I found another café where I could sip tea and leave another generous tip for a waitress.




Title photo for Living the Life of Holly

Holly Winter Huppert stands with a woman in the Mountains of Turkey.

New here? Click below to get an email notification every time Holly writes. Leave a comment below. Or share with friends.

All proceeds from digital products

will be donated to Ukrainian refugees in Poland and/or helping battle extreme poverty in Ukraine.

The author with a statue. She has both hands on its knee.

If you liked this post, please share it.

Tag: @mshollywinter on Instagram

@mshollywinter on Facebook

@mshollywinter on Twitter

@mshollywinter on TikTok

Thanks so much!

THe author posing with a painting.

Follow Holly on Instagram:


A photo of skin talk ny on instagram

Follow Holly's Skin Talk Blog

on Instagram:


Click here for all of Holly Winter Huppert's links

Click here to see

ALL of Holly's Links

Thanks for

being here.

Thanks for

being you.

(C) 2023 by and Holly Winter Huppert

Living the Life of Holly

bottom of page