Sunday, March 8, 2020
On the day the Music Director of the Lviv Philharmonic, Taras Krysa, was conducting the Fort Collins Symphony in concert, I was on my way to Lviv, Ukraine.
I’ll admit it was a little disconcerting to see my suitcase get on the plane last as I was boarding the smallish regional jet for the trip between Munich and Lviv. On my arrival it was a sign of the times that we were checked for fever on entering the terminal. But passport control and gathering my belongings were quick and from the time I stepped off the plane to boarding a van for city center was about 15 minutes. The driver and a helper recognized me from the poster — had to trust that(!) — and soon we were on the cobblestone streets that is the normal road surface for this city.
I spent the 90 minutes on my flight reading up about Lviv which is on the far west side of the country. Its proximity caused the area to be under Soviet rule for a much shorter amount of time. Thus the older influences of Europe are more prevalent than the square utilitarian structures found in other Soviet bloc cities. A long walk from my hotel to city center showed me those European influences in the structures of the buildings which reminded me of my recent visit to Prague. There are some very old churches mixed with more modern cathedrals.
This is a western friendly city with most menus in restaurants and street signs in the western alphabet along with the Cyrillic that is impossible to decipher without a study of that alphabet. Although I have yet to eat a meal in this town, it is clear that the choices are wide and varied. They are crazy about coffee — I passed no fewer than 12 coffee bars on my one-mile walk, beer (and their microbreweries), and hamburgers. But pizza, steaks, veal, and other western fare is also readily available and VERY inexpensive. My contact with people has been positive despite the language barrier and I look forward to working with the orchestra starting on Tuesday. Tomorrow will be study and exploration.