Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Героям Слава!

With these words, you too can gain entry to the fairly new, hip underground cafe in L'viv - Kriyivka. The vice rector's son clued us in on the cafe's whereabouts, but it was full when we tried to go with Carter (or, we were rejected because Carter was in tow). Erik made plans to go with Ewa, another Fulbright scholar in L'viv, and they trekked out in the cold rain to check the place out today.

The entrance is unmarked, in a building on Rynok Square. As you approach the darkened doorway, a motion-sensor trips and a small floodlight turns on. You tap the door and a small hole opens, with a rifle-muzzle pointed through. The guard prompts you to deliver the password, and lets you in. After assuring the guards that there are no Russians with you, each visitor takes a complementary shot of vodka, then descends into the basement. The cafe is designed to look like a bunker used by UPA (the Ukrainian partisan army that we wrote about previously), complete with real decommissioned weapons (at least I hope they are decommissioned - the pistol had blank rounds in it). It also has many photos of UPA soldiers, like the one above. The cafe is controversial on both sides of the UPA debate. It glorifies a group that some Ukrainians think was villainous, and it trivializes an era that many locals think was a glorious, but doomed, fight for freedom.

We found a table in a room that was not too smoky (one of the hazards of being in a popular club) and sat down. As we got settled, some young men came in and asked us to move to an adjacent table so that they could accommodate their friends. We moved, but were then told by staff that our new table was reserved. So, we struck a few poses, chatted with some of the patrons (including the young men who evicted us from our table), and then eventually sauntered off without snacking.

1 comment:

Lea's Dad said...

Talk about a strange place and not very welcoming. At least you got the complimentary shot of vodka. Hope it was decent vodka!