Welcome back! In this week’s adventures in Ukraine, we unexpectedly encounter a protest at the Lviv City Hall and later visit the Znesinnya Regional Landscape Park with some new friends.
Let’s start with the protest. After spending the previous day riding in the car in search of ancestors, we slept late and lollygagged getting ready for the day. So when we were about to step outside the Green Door that secured our AirBnb, we heard pounding and shouting noises so were very curious what was going on. This is what we saw when we emerged. A large group of protesters attempting to enter the Lviv City Hall. We tried to find out what they were protesting and got conflicting stories.
We were hungry and ready for some breakfast so found a restaurant down a side street and away from the commotion. After some traditional breakfast food, my traveling partner couldn’t pass up the cherry strudel that was on the menu. If we lived in Lviv, I swear she’d have strudel everyday!
After breakfast, we made our way back to Rynok Square where the protest was still in progress. While my traveling partner and The Eldest did some shopping in the the small stores surrounding the square, I went towards the action. Here are some more photos of the protest.
The crowd continued to grow larger and then started to encroach on the street and block the street cars that pass by every few minutes.
Soon an emergency vehicle came along trying to get through the crowd, not sure if they were police or a rescue squad but the guy riding shotgun got out and yelled at the protesters.
Meanwhile, there were protesters pounding on barrels, I guess trying to disturb whoever was going on inside City Hall. Here’s a short video of the sounds.
I continued to try to find out what they were protesting but got several conflicting stories. One person told us it was a business conflict while another told us it was that small businesses wanted more freedom to sell liquor. Still another said it was to reduce the amount of liquor sold. But I think the real reason was there is a proposed mall going up near the downtown that will create jobs but also displace people from their homes. Regardless of the purpose, it was exciting to watch!
The Eldest was having her own fun, she found an Ukrainian embroidered dress that she liked and decided to purchase. She got the full treatment; the dress, a belt, a necklace and the headband for a “special deal.” Now she’s a true Ukrainian!
As we waited for our next adventure outside the Green Door, my traveling partner listened to this woman passionately talk (in Ukrainian of course) about the protest going on across the street. For some reason, my traveling partner seems to be a willing listener to older women that are about her same height and hair color! These are her people!
And as we waited, these guys made their way up the street seemingly oblivious to what was happening across the street!
Soon our escorts arrived. Meet Ulyana, Anna, Maria (L to R) with The Eldest standing between Ulyana and Anna. The Eldest arranged this excursion through her work in International Agriculture Programs at Penn State University to learn more about women in agricultural activities.
Ulyana led the way to Znesinnya Regional Landscape Park where she is park director. It’s about a 20 minute walk from Rynok Square and center of Lviv. Anna and Maria are faculty members of ecology at Lviv Polytechnic University, one of the more important institutions of higher learning in science and technology in Central Europe. They are friends of Ulyana who can understand some English but speaks very little. So Anna and Maria are along to help translate. So with introductions out of the way, we weaved our way through the city streets until we reached the park entrance. This park was established in 1993 and consists of about 770 acres (312 hectares) with the purpose to provide space for recreation and tourism but also environmental protection and education. It’s one of the only regional parks in Ukraine located within an urban setting. After entering the park grounds (it’s free by the way), Ulyana took us to a newer addition that of an animal preserve. This consists of wild and domesticated animals that were abandoned, abused, or donated. It’s a work in progress but school kids that visit the park are said to particularly enjoy getting acquainted with all the animals including a couple of three legged dogs. As soon as facilities are completed, a couple of horses will join the menagerie.
The Eldest and Anna enjoying the animals.
We then made a stop at the park education center where we met some of the staff and they told us of some of the unique features of park such as rare sandstones and fossils.
We were then introduced to Aleksandr Zawodovich, the park’s Deputy Director of Education. He, at one time, was the park’s director, the position Ulyana now holds. Aleksandr is a scientist and educator with excellent English skills and a willingness to share information and answer our many questions.
With his able guidance, we followed the path to the highest point in the park, Lion Mountain, a geological monument to nature as fossils of shells can be found in the limestone near the top.
At viewpoints along the way and the top, we could see the city of Lviv below us.
We could also see Lion Mountain’s more famous twin, High Castle Hill. This hill contained at one time the main defensive fort for the city of Lviv. As you can see, it now has a cell or broadcasting tower and encroaching development. This is one challenge Znesinnia is working on, preventing additional private and commercial development within the park boundaries. There are number of existing homes, apartments, churches and warehouses grandfathered into the park area, the goal is to prevent further development.
At the top we were greeted with this simple monument.
Aleksandr loved to share his vast knowledge of urban park development and the importance of having a wide variety of activities and purposes.
After our trek down the hill, it was time for Aleksandr to leave us. It was a pleasure getting to know and learn from him.
It was waaaayyyy past lunchtime and we had worked up an appetite on our walk and climb up the hill. We stopped for lunch at a local restaurant where Maria and Anna had to translate for us since there weren’t menus in English.
And true to form, when in Ukraine eat as the Ukrainians do, we had borscht and varenyky (pierogis)!
It was fun meeting and getting to know these young, energetic, and intelligent stars. These and others like them should give Ukraine confidence and hope for the future.
While on this day we observed a protest and visited a park, our day was not yet done. Stay tuned for next week when we will cook with Sil!
Until then, happy travels!