A Symbol of Loyalty

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         It is said that swans often do stay with their partners for life. In case one of them dies, the other stays alone…It is wonderful and sad as well, it seems a bit unfair that the other should be lonely the rest of its life, however, if you love a person very much, how can you imagine a life without him/her? It should be impossible. For animals like swans – yes, but people are more pragmatic.

      Let’s make up a story. Olga and Michael are good colleagues. She is a very good book-keeper, he is a programmer. He helps her to deal with her bookkeeping software. One of the evenings they stay longer in the office, they have a task to fulfill, and suddenly a passionate glint passes through their eyes. They feel strange and confused. They find each other attractive, emotions fill their bodies. They do not know how to express their feelings and, somehow between lines, they awkwardly try to occur in one of the common places and pretend it happens accidentally. They continuously look for some moment to share their first kiss. Olga takes up an initiative, it is obvious since men are usually shy. After a couple of unsuccessful tries, she eventually grabs the lapels of his jacket and kisses him thoroughly. Michael is frustrated for some second, but his man consciousness gets the best and he replies her with even hotter kiss…

     They drift into dating, they drift into living with each other, they drift into we might as well get married. They are happy and enjoy their first years together, however, one of the days Olga feels herself not completely happy because she doesn’t have earrings with diamond or mink fur coat. She still works at the same company and holds the same position. They live with her parents and cannot let themselves a separate apartment. “A cottage is a castle for those in love” doesn’t work for her. Michael starts to be interested in other pretty girls. Children, money, and other stuff turn their life into a nervous breakdown until one of them becomes brave and asks for freedom…

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      Swans never ask for freedom, they cannot imagine life without each other, so why people cannot do like that? Why do we need and ask more? Why this world is too money-dependent? Where is romance? In this matter world regresses, materialistic things more important than human life. We are greedy for things, whereas we are lack of serenity, calmness and conscience. Would you like to disagree? Yep, I feel it…and you are right, you have to argue about it and you have to prove me that world is not so hopeless yet. I also do not lose my hope; I do believe that there are exceptions. There are very smart and wisdom people who do not waste their life on stupid things. There are couples who spend their common 50 years like one day and they know no quarrels. I do believe that it is possible but only for those ones who value life as a gift, as you can only have it once…

Life is Just a Passing Moment

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      Sometimes you would like to escape and hide from reality, you need to do something not to be angry or not to see how cruel this world is. The moment you take your camera and snap a picture of something beautiful gives you positive energy and freedom, you do not think, you just act! Isn’t it amazing? What I mean by photographing as a participant rather than observer is that I’m not only involved directly with some of the activities that I photograph, such as catching a bird fly, but even when I’m not I have the philosophy that my mind and body are part of the natural world. Photographing helps you to find a wonderful reason to smile even when you cannot even think about it.  You can make a good sharp photo or a bad not clear one, mostly it depends on your ability to see, sometimes you a bit “blind” due to your emotions, which create a curtain through which you do not see properly. Right now I feel like that, emotions fill my heart, very sad ones,  however, right now there is a big wish to take a camera and snap more pictures in order to bring back a pure peace to my mind.

     Nobody likes reading sad posts, but life is not only pure joy, especially nowadays when there are some countries where it is very difficult now. You all read news and some of you guess what am I talking about, however, my main purpose is to make people think and remember that life is just a passing moment that will never come back. Photographing gives us a unique chance to save this moment! So, let’s do it, let’s enjoy magical winter photos!

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22nd of January, One Year Ago

        What life is like when you are twenty or twenty-five? You watch the world for the way it watches you. Life is a roadmap for you. Your eyes are full of hope; they are shining like two stars in a dark sky. Your twenty-somethings are the prime of your life. It seems that you have many years yet. You look at this world with curiosity. Everything piques your interest. You look for idols to follow. You can not understand cruelty, injustice, deception, and betrayal. You do not think about death. Sometimes you are reckless and fearless. At exactly this time you discover in yourself an ability to love. And what happens with you when your love is a young 23-years-old girl, very innocent, is in danger on the verge of disaster. This young stupid doll is in a dark tunnel, runs wildly. She sees two doors only: one door is a dark cage where there is a huge bear-type man with a whip whose orders she will be following without a word, and the other – is a spacious passage, through which she has to go to reach a final destination, her path will be crooked with many obstacles, but there is no guarantee that she won’t be left there alone. So, you cannot leave this girl alone, in your twenties you start a serious fight, sometimes hopeless one. You do not give up; you take a risk and do not think, you just feel…. And then a bullet passes through your body and you close your eyes…forever! You life is over in your twenty-somethings!

P.S. A bit allegorical description devoted to young men, who became first victims of cruel ex-president regime during Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine in 2014. They died for their country, they were heroes, they were unarmed.  Snipers who killed them are still not punished…

Foggy With Unclear Silhouettes

       That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key.

It is foggy with unclear silhouettes
Nature like a giant spider
Takes you slowly in its net
Time to call a real fighter…

L’viv in English (final)

       Hey, you might be hungry for the continuation of my story since my last post about L’viv! Here I am, and we are in L’viv, one of the most impressive Ukrainian city!

     When you are in L’viv, you feel like you have arrived in Western Europe. Visitors claim L’viv to be the Prague of Ukraine. The city has beautiful blend neoclassical architecture in rococo, baroque, Renaissance and Gothic.

       If you are a fan of opera and ballet, then you should definitely visit Opera House.  It is a unique cultural, historical, architectural and social institution.  The L’viv Opera House was built in 1900 using forms of Renaissance and Baroque architecture. The result is one of the most beautiful opera houses in Europe with a luxurious interior, including the Mirror Hall and Parnassus Curtain and a stunning facade with ornate sculpture work.  For the curious ones, the Theater stands right at the top of river Poltva, that used to run across the city until some hundred years ago. I watched there several operas and was impressed by actors’ voices and play. You can feel special atmosphere there. Together with actors you travel through centuries and discover new life.

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     L’viv is a center of youth, as I have already mentioned in my previous part, every fifth habitant of this city is student. Here you can find one of the biggest university the Ivan Franko National University. The Lviv National University named after Ivan Franko is one of the leading higher educational establishments in Ukraine, his statue is situated in front of the building. It is the oldest continuously operating university in Ukraine. It has a beautiful campus nestled just north of the Carpathian Mountains.

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    L’viv has always been and still remains the detonator of nation-creating and democratic processes in the Ukrainian state. This city became the main stronghold of the Orange Revolution in November-December 2004, when Ukraine was in the focus of attention of the entire world. Seventy percent of L’viv’s people took part in the actions aimed at defending the democracy in L’viv, and every third resident of the city stood his ground in Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kyiv in 2004 and in 2013. Our Second Revolution of Dignity had its roots stretching from L’viv and other Western part cities. Sometimes I think that if we did not have Western Ukraine, we may not have our country at all. Nowadays many men from Western part of Ukraine take part in the war against Russian invaders. The utter horror of war continuously tries to crawl up my throat. Ukraine experiences the most difficult time, mainly, due to the presence of not only external enemies, but also of internal ones. There are still serious economical problems and corruption, bribery and shadow economy. Faces are changed, but system not, and there is not so much hope.  I love my country, so God please forgive me, but I feel that Ukraine gets closer to Africa in her development. Everything what I told you is utterly sad and hopeless, however, I still believe in our people, they are ones of the bravest in the whole world. You will never find such patriotic young people who gave their lives for the independence of their country. You have no idea of what Ukrainian self-sacrifice is and you will never find out because you were born in the other country… SLAVA L’VIV! SLAVA UKRAINI! GEROYAM SLAVA!

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Magical Winter

     Every season has its own distinctive charm, but snowy winter is of particular interest to me. First winter snow! It gives me a touch of magic, it seems that winter waves a magic wand and fix the world. Winter is an artist who prefers light, soft, and sometimes shadowy colors. Winter is a season of recovery and preparation, smell of pine trees and colorful lights of Christmas. It makes us expect a wonder and believe in wonders. It is a season of family, fire and home, everybody comes back home in winter, and for some second becomes a kid who looks for presents under Christmas tree. Winter is oddly comforting, don’t you think so?

L’viv in English (Part 2)

After enjoying a nice cup of Banderivska coffee and ginger tea, we continue our lovely trip around L’viv.

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    Modern L’viv is a many-sided and contrasting city, but always – comfort and stylish. Let me mention the following interesting facts about it:
– many software programs for such famous Hollywood films as Spiderman, Harry Potter, Hulk and etc have been developed here;
– every fifth person in this city is student, this is a city of youth;
– L’viv is situated at the same distance (500 km) from three European capitals: Warsaw, Budapest, and Kiev.
    In L’viv there are also many nice nature places. One of them is Stryiskiy Park. It is not only a very beautiful park, but also a popular place to get some fantastic photos. You may not believe me, there I found my own winter muse, who whispered in my ear some ideas where to take my winter pictures. Below you find several pictures, which caught my breath. Hope they will make the same effect on you!

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A good poem that express completely my emotions (written not by me, I am not so talented yet):

Piles of snow beneath my boots
chilly winds blowing everywhere
snow keeps mounting on the posts
on the windows and on the roads
shovels outside,
soups inside
hot and rich,
chicken and corn
coming back from all the work
this is what I look for
the warm chestnuts,
the cracking fire
this is my winter warmth

While I was walking I met my sweet friends – squirrels. I shared with her a piece of apple and she decided to take it. I didn’t have nuts at that moment, hope she/he wasn’t disappointed. Cute!

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      If you are in L’viv, you should visit its chocolate shops, where chocolate is produced and sold. There is a big choice; even the most experienced gourmet will be surprised. Do not pass by such a chocolate shop-window, you won’t regret!

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I have been in L’viv several times, but in most of my pictures presented in this post you will see mostly signs of winter and Christmas. As it is known Christmas in L’viv is special one, full of snow and magic. This is Ukrainian Christmas, which we celebrate on the 7th of January according to the Gregorian calendar as in most of other Orthodox Christian countries. Most of you might never have been in Ukraine and you have no idea how it is usually celebrated. Your humble blogger will share with you the most interesting about Christmas in Ukraine. The Christmas Eve is called in Ukraine ‘Sviaty Vechir’ (Holy Evening) sometimes also called ‘Sviata Vecheria’ (Holy Supper). People usually cook some tasty foods for this evening. There should be at least 12 different foods on the table, because according to the Christian tradition each course is dedicated to one of Christ’s Apostles. The courses are meatless because there is a period of fasting required by the Church until Christmas Day. However, for the pagans the meatless dishes were a form of bloodless sacrifice to the gods. Those should mandatory include ‘Kutia’ — the ritual food which is prepared from cooked wheat and special syrup containing diluted honey, grated poppy seeds, raisins and sometimes walnuts. For the Ukrainian people Christmas is the most important family holiday of the whole year. With the appearance of the first star which is believed to be the Star of Bethlehem, the family gathers to begin dinner. Unfortunately, Christmas is after New Year in Ukraine because many years ago Russian King Petr I decided to follow the European fashion and replace our traditional New Year Date (14 of January) with 1st of January. Since that time Ukrainians are the unique nation, which celebrates Christmas after NY.

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    It can be concluded that Russians are very harmful to our traditions and lives. Russians did everything to destroy out country, traditions and language, and still do. If you think that Ukraine is a part of Russia, then most probably you were bad at history. Ukraine was and always will be a separate country with nice traditions, culture and very melodic language. Furthermore, Moscow would never occur if there was no Kievan Rus (The New York Times “In these early centuries East Slavic tribes and their neighbors coalesced into the Christian state of Kievan Rus. Its ruling Riurikid dynasty oversaw increasing political complexity, territorial expansion, economic growth, and frequent warfare, but was defeated by Mongol invaders. During the ensuing Mongol era a junior dynastic branch extended its authority and laid the foundations for a new state–Muscovy.) At the time of the Kyivan Empire there was no mention of a Moscow nation. It is well known that Moscow was created in 1277 as a subservient vassal region or ‘ulus’ to the Golden Horde, established by the Khan Mengu-Timur. By that time, Kyivan Rus had existed for more than 300 years. The tribe of Great Russians, or the Russian people as known today, appeared around the XV to XVII centuries from among the Finn tribes: Muroma, Mer, Ves and others. This was when their history started. There is no history of Great Russians on Kyivan lands! The history of Great Russians starts with the ‘Beyond the Forests Land’ in Moscow, which was never Kyivan Rus. The Tatar-Mongols who entered these lands were a big element in the formulation of ‘Great Russians’. The Great Russian psychology absorbed many characteristics – the Tatar-Mongol instincts of a conqueror and despot, with the ultimate aim: world domination. It is impossible to live a lie forever! You may accuse me of being prejudiced, but I provided you with the facts and information stated by famous historians based on documents. I have nothing against Russian land and their culture, they have a right to exist, but nobody gave them a right to conquer us, take our territory and change our history!

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To be continued…

Have you ever met sweet little squirrels…

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      Haven’t you? If you ever met these sweet little creatures, than you will understand why I am so impressed and waiting every single moment for a chance to meet them. However, do not forget to prepare a package of walnuts before going for a chase after squirrels!

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What do we know about squirrels: squirrels are quick, bushy-tailed rodents found all over the world. They belong to the Sciuridae family, which includes prairie dogs, chipmunks and marmots. There are more than 200 species of squirrels, according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), and they are categorized into three types: tree squirrels, ground squirrels and flying squirrels. Squirrels live mostly in forests; however, nowadays some species do not mind staying in parks and countryside. In one of such park I met them. Firstly, I was just watching them on a distance, but then I became brave and brought walnuts. What do you think, rodents were suspicious in the beginning, but empty stomachs got the best. And from that time I started to study them and enjoy their company every free minute I have. They are amazing and very funny; I couldn’t stop watching how they eat nuts, hide them and jump from one branch to another. Every day I discover something new about them.

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First of all, sweet cuties can be of different size and colors. In my life I saw mostly gray, red and black ones; all of them are of a small size. The smallest is the African pygmy squirrel which is tiny at around 10 cm long, whereas the largest, the Indian giant squirrel is a massive three feet long. There is a worldwide believe that my little friends mostly like eating nuts, but not only them. At once I saw how my little tailed friend ate bread, yeah, can you imagine that? She/he found an old piece of moldy bread that was on the ground and started to eat it, I hardly believed it. So, everything squirrels can find in the forest can be part of her daily menu: different seeds, grains, buds, branches, berries, mushrooms, and certainly content of coniferous tree cones. They can eat 100-150 cones per day. Personally I adore looking after their food habits. Sweet cuties can be messy when they eat, usually pieces of nuts are hanging on their mustache and falling from a tree, so look upwards when you are walking under large trees. The interesting is the process of cracking a nut by a squirrel. While quickly turning a nut in her forelegs my cute gnaws a small hole in it from that side where there is a sharp tip, and then she puts her lower front teeth in it. The trick is that squirrels like many other rodents have special lower jaw consisting of two halves joined with elastic muscle. When a squirrel pulls them together, her teeth go separate ways and act as a wedge – a nut opens in halves. This is the most amazing when a squirrel takes one half of the nut and starts “digging out” the nut itself, while the second half is next to her or sometimes in her hands. While chewing she/he splits out inedible part of the nut…phew…phew, so be careful, and don’t stay too close… kidding! After every meal my little friends wash themselves, they like to be clean and tidy. You may ask me what they drink, as I noticed in winter season when there is snow they eat snow on trees, sometimes I saw how they suck in the tree bark. As I read from Wildlife Encyclopedia the front teeth of squirrels grow continuously at the roots, and common belief holds that their habit of chewing objects other than food is necessary to keep the teeth worn down to normal length. Moreover, I have to mention one more interesting fact about my friends: they do store food, they are very prudent. They usually do not have big storehouses as you may imagine, but they bury nuts in the ground or in a hollow tree. It carries the walnut in its mouth, stops at a chosen place, digs a hole with a quick action of forefeet, just deep enough to take the nut, and then buries it by pushing back the earth with forefeet. Meanwhile, it is said that squirrels have bad memory and they usually forget where they buried food, which makes these little creatures very useful for nature.

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Secondly, squirrels communicate with each other through various vocalizations and scent marking. They also use their tails as a signaling device, twitching it when uneasy to alert other squirrels of potential danger. When a squirrel is scared and feels that it is in danger, it will at first remain motionless. If it is on the ground, it will run to a nearby tree and climb to safety. Several times I was a witness of their special sounds; I have no idea whether it was an alert signal or just a way of communication. I recognized that they are not so found of you watching them eating, it seems they are pretty shy or just afraid that you may take their food. Almost every of them have its own character and specific features, for example, one of my friend’s ears is a bit bended in unusual manner, which makes him different from others at once.

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In addition, squirrels live in a nuclear family with no connection to kin. Female and male squirrels live separately and are hardly differentiated. Only by turning them over can you see the physical difference between males and females. If you see nothing, the squirrel is female. And as you may guess nobody has a chance to check whether your little friend is a girl or boy. At once accidentally I found out who was who, but that’s my secret. Once you see an adult squirrel accompanied by baby squirrels, the adult is female. Male squirrels take no interest in children and move out of the home nest until the children leave. Male squirrels spend even more time for cleaning themselves; in fact, squirrels are one of the cleanest rodents. In late summer and early fall you might see the squirrel mating ritual, they are chasing each other.

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Finally, I can talk about my sweet friends endlessly and study them, but there will be always something mysterious and unknown for me. As soon as I find out something new, I will share with you. In case you have your own stories and experience, please write me, I look forward to hearing from any of you. Stay in touch!

I Just Should Say…

I wanted to start my today’s post with another topic, but I cannot.

Maybe many of you saw in news that yesterday 12 civil people died in Volnovakha due to terroristic attack by Russian terrorists.  I certainly understand that this is just one of today’s hot news, which somebody maybe won’t notice even, however, for Ukraine it is another extremely tragic result of war started on our territory by Russia. My blog is not devoted to any political side or opinion, I do not take any of the political party’s sides or anything like that. Nevertheless, I cannot keep silent… 12 innocent people died and this is not the first tragedy. 

In the 21st century Ukraine has to defend its own territory. You may tell that EU and US  support us and do everything what they could, but I have to disagree. Not everything and not enough. Democracy and morality are not the priorities of modern European world anymore. Money and business become more important. However, who has a right to blame them for that? Only  Ukrainian mothers who receive their sons in coffins…or  people whose relatives died in yesterday’s tragedy, or Ukrainians who spend most of the time in bombproof shelters in the Eastern part of Ukraine. I see your readiness to debate on this issue, I already hear your words that “Ukrainians made their bed, now lie in it”. There is certainly a point in it. A highly corrupted country, which has voted for a criminal President and then kicked him out at the cost of its own citizen’s lives, cannot have a second chance especially when not much changed since the end of Winter Revolution 2013/2014. Faces changed, but system not. Moreover, except for economical problems we have war now. So, why EU and US should help us? I will tell you why – because when somebody next to you asks you to give him a hand  and you just stand and watching him dieing, it means that you are worse than an animal, even in the wildest jungles there are better rules than in our world!!!

Do not forget to be humane!

Many people took their solidarity when journalists were killed in France, now, unfortunately, it is time to do the same for Ukraine!

Lviv in English (1 part)

IT IS BETTER TO VISIT L’VIV THAN TALK A LOT ABOUT IT HUNDRED TIMES…

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      You might be curious why I created my blog and what am I doing here. Well, I like sharing my thoughts, however, there is more important purpose – I would like to show you interesting places where you might have not been yet. Why do I start from L’viv? The answer is: I am sure that you know very few facts about Ukraine and most of you has never been there, i can assure you that Ukraine is not only one of the most problematic part of Eastern Europe currently having a war conflict with Russia, it is also a very special world with very beautiful architecture, nice culture and hospitable people. And if you tell me that you really know Ukraine, then share your own thoughts, I’d love to chat with you!
And now I would like you to dive into magnificent and mysterious Ukrainian world called “L’viv”.
I wouldn’t like to spend too much time on historical facts and dates, my main idea is to share with you something special, which you can find only from a person who visited L’viv and who tried to explore this city from inside. Nowadays, a lot of sites are devoted to description of this fantastic city, there you can find any information. However, you won’t feel this city…yeah, you have to feel this city because it can show you a new side of Ukraine.
Certainly I need to mention that L’viv was founded in 1256 by King Daniel of Galicia and named in honor of his son Lev. Prior to the creation of the modern state of Ukraine, L’viv had been part of numerous states and empires, including, under the name Lwów, Poland and later the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth; under the name Lemberg,the Austrian and later Austro-Hungarian Empires; the short-lived West-Ukrainian Republic after World War I; Poland again; and the Soviet Union. In addition, both the Swedes and the Ottoman Turks made unsuccessful attempts to conquer the city. History influenced this city; there are many cathedrals, churches, palaces and other places, which hide many stories from previous centuries. There is a flavour of Polish, Hungarian and other cultures everywhere. I came across the Chapel of Boim Family and found out that it was built by Hungarian merchant. It is said that Georgiy Boim,a L’viv merchant of Hungarian origin, who grew rich trading wine, obtained L’viv citizenship simultaneously with the post of burgomaster, and decided to build a family chapel of unparalleled beauty in 1615, can you imagine that it is still here, standing in front of you. When you stand in front of it you feel something, I hardly can explain that. When I see ancient buildings, I feel myself like a peeper, who sits beside the door and peeps through keyholes…at first, there is a light road, which straightly brings you to an image of a woman who sits in front of her mirror; she asks her mirror “am I the prettiest”… or a ball room where beautiful ladies in corseted dresses and gentlemen in tuxedo are waltzing… maybe it is weird, but that’s how I feel!!! There are many such impressive buildings in L’viv, one day certainly won’t be enough. I wouldn’t like to mention all places since I am not a travel guide and do not represent any of travel companies etc. You need to walk through these buildings, if it’s possible visit them and try to imagine what was there many centuries ago. Sometimes you have to stop and glance at some portraits in galleries, look at these faces unusual for our epoch, and feel a smell of ancient furnitures, St George Cathedral with decorative lighting, isn’t it fabulous?
After having our mortal level raised, we need to recharge ourselves and the best place for it is Coffee Mine. Yes, yes, you heard me right; we are going to coffee mine. I suppose such mine exists only in L’viv, surely, I have never been to coffee countries, so cannot tell that such mine is unique, but it is really a very interesting place, which is not similar to any other. Coffee fans should definitely visit this place – L’viv coffee is born here. It is the only coffee mining where it is extracting underground of Rynok square in front of the very eyes of visitors. At the entrance one sees a conveyor belt bringing up coffee from the underground coffee mine. So of course I jumped at the chance to go on a tour of this mine far beneath the streets of L’viv. Downstairs, I went to the mine entrance where I put on a miners hat with a lamp and a rather heavy battery pack. Then journey through the dim mine, avoiding the wagons of freshly mined coffee. It was quite an experience. Back up stairs there is a regular coffee shop with really yummy cakes and cookies. In a menu you can find any type of coffee, but let me give you a good advice you have to taste “Banderivska” coffee going by such names as “Coffee, the Way Stepan Bandera Liked it” (with condensed milk), “Coffee in Rainy Lviv” (with home-brewed alcohol), “Coffee in Sunny L’viv” (with mint) and many others. Another delicious surprise for coffee lovers will be “kavivka” – a coffee liquor which is served with exquisite gourmet desserts In any other menus of the world famous coffee houses you will never find “Banderivska” coffee, it is available only here. I can suggest you to combine this coffee with a piece of “Zacher” chocolate cake and just relax. Let us stay here for a while and meet you later….
 

      To be continued!

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