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DESTINATION: UKRAINE

A liberated Lion City is roaring

Westerners have discovered Lviv, a place of fine dining, Baroque and Rococo treasures and excellent prices.

May 28, 2006|Barry Zwick | Special to The Times

Opera is an international comfort food for those of us who like it. The rituals are universal: flowers for the soprano and shouts of "Bravo!" In Lviv, though, the bass got the flowers. The applause, a do-your-own thing elsewhere in the world, was in lock-step unison, clap for clap. And the audience rose as one for the standing ovation.

At the opera, at the airport and on the teeming streets of Lviv, I ran into Canadians and Americans who had emigrated from the city and were back in town for weddings.

Traditionally, as the bride in a Lviv wedding leaves the church, she hurls candies -- symbolizing a life of sweetness -- to the waiting crowd. At the Dominican Church, Tsarynnyk and I caught a handful and shared in the dream.

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Open-door policy in Lviv

GETTING THERE:

From LAX, Lufthansa has connecting flights (one change of plane) to Lviv, Ukraine. United and American have connecting service with two changes of planes. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $1,855 until June 25, dropping to $1,765 until Sept. 5.

TELEPHONES:

To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 380 (country code for Ukraine), then 322 (city code for Lviv) and the local number.

WHERE TO STAY:

Grand Hotel, 13 Prospekt Svobody; 72-40-42, www.ghgroup.com.ua. Elegant rooms in a prime location facing the Shevchenko statue. Doubles from $165, including breakfast buffet.

Hotel Dnister, 6 Mateiko St.; 97-43-17, www.dnister.lviv.ua. New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Vaclav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic, stayed here (separately). Much better service than the Grand. Doubles from $82, including breakfast buffet.

Lion's Castle, 7 Glinki St.; 97-15-63. Friendly boutique hotel, 15-minute walk to Old Town. Doubles from $91, with breakfast.

WHERE TO EAT:

Amadeus, 7 Katedralna St.; 97-80-22. Beside the Boims chapel, just off Rynok Square. Wonderfully seasoned Austrian dishes with lots of fresh vegetables. Dinner with wine from $11.

Veronika, 21 Prospekt Shevchenka; 97-81-28. Haute cuisine in a festive indooroutdoor setting, friendly service offering good wine advice: "Stick with Merlot." Dinner with wine from $13.

Sim Porosyat (Seven Piglets), 9 Bandera St.; 97-55-58. An over-the-top Ukrainian theme restaurant with musical entertainment. Reservations a must. Dinner with wine from $14.

GUIDE:

Slav Tsarynnyk, 37 Tiutiunnykiv St., Lviv 79011, Ukraine; (067) 670-0840, lvivecotour.com. In a country where English is not widely spoken, a good guide is indispensable.

TO LEARN MORE:

Ukrainian Embassy, 3350 M St. N.W., Washington, DC, 20007; (202) 333-0606, www.ukraineinfo.us. U.S. citizens can spend 90 days in Ukraine without a visa.

-- Barry Zwick

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