I was gonna add this in my list of things to see in Lviv but I thought it actually warrants it’s own snappy article. This is one more of those moments when you need to sit back and think “F*ck yeah, I’m really traveling”.
I wanted to go for a beer, and after a few suggestions I heard a place which tickled my fancy. A bar in a basement of a building in the Old Town – this sounded suitably dingy for a reprobate like myself. As I marched off to find said bar, the Ukranian girl helping me told “Hold on, you don’t know the password”.
Wtf? OK, right, what the hell are you talking about? Apparently, this old school bar was a former stronghold for Ukranian nationalists, and now to enter the bar I need to whisper the password the guard at the gate. The password? Glory to Ukraine (“Slava Ukrayini, slava Ukraini, slava Ukraini”).
And off I went, found the address, and went into the archway. A large, old wooden door with a peephole for the guard on the other side. I nervously knocked the door, no answer. So I banged it heartily next time round. The peephole opens, 2 ancient beady eyes spiel some Ukrainian to me, I respond with the password, hear two locks move and I’m in.
The 200 year old guard (he must have been at least 200) has a gun hanging over his shoulder, I begin to go down the stairs to get to the basement bar but he grabs me. Oh sh*t. When I look back he’s pouring me a shot of vodka. Part of the ritual apparently. I was tempted to go out, come back in again for a free round two. But that gun convinced me otherwise.
Downstairs I sat down and ordered, the waiter spoke a little bit of English and to be honest it wasn’t half as sketchy as I thought. I mean the walls were wood and cold stone but there were groups of people drinking, everyone was friendly and the area was quite big. I ate, drank paid up (about $10).
On my way out I shook the old guards hand, he looked at me with the warmest smile I’ve seen in a long time. I thought to myself “I bloody love traveling” and waltzed back into the old town with a smile on my face. Happy travels!