Chefchaousen. Continued

About a year and a half ago I crossed paths with a young man in Kosovo. He had unfortunately arrived at the hostel on a week when we were full, and he had no reservation.  Fortunately the owner allowed him to sleep on the couch. The following day I told him I had discovered an NGO looking for volunteers and offering to help them find lodgings.  “Shall we go talk to them?” I asked.  We did and, we ended up doing some volunteer hours as well.  He did not get lodging, but instead started helping out at the hostel and stayed after I had left.

During our time together I was able to connect him with people who could help him.  It wasn’t that I knew a bunch of people in Pristina, Kosovo.  It was that I have no trouble introducing myself and asking questions.  At one point about a third of the way through our “relationship” I asked him if he believes in coincidence.  He said “no”.  I asked then,  why he thought these opportunities for paid work, meeting locals who could help him and his showing up at the right time to help the NGO create a video happened.  He replied, “it’s because you talk to EVERYONE!”

So, that’s the secret!

While wandering around Chefchaousen I met more than a dozen people.  Some encounters were brief, some casual like the two American students I shared a lunch table with.  The girl was studying Arabic in Morocco and he was studying in Spain, but they had met at university in the US.

The most interesting there, were a group traveling together who had come to Chefchaousen to volunteer with the charity group RIFCOM based in Gibraltar. All English speakers, but from different places.

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Happily flashing their RIFCOM Logo shirts.
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Caught’cha shopping and taking selfies  😀

This group couldn’t stop talking about RIFCOM and the local project they were joining.  I almost wanted to go with them!  If you are traveling to this part of the world (or even if you’re not) check out the good works of this organisation.  I did!

Later I encountered representatives of a Bedouin weaving co-operative from the southern desert area of Morocco. They naturally would like to sell me a rug, blanket or shawl. It is difficult to convince them that everything in my suitcase is an accumulation of various weights and that the airline’s have limits.  ” But, look, it weighs nothing!” they say.  A bunch of nothing eventually weights something. Lovely, but no thank you.

 

 

I learned a couple of facts: they not only weave wool they also weave natural grasses (vegan rugs); and the men weave rugs, the women weave blankets and wraps.  Lots of weaving going on in this community.

Like music?  This artsy place was where I met two American gals studying in Morocco; and, a Japanese guy studying in mid-west America.  Captured them making music on bongo drums.

Leather tooling is also a major handicraft here as well.

 

Last but far from least are the hospitable people of Chefchaousen who open their doors to thousands of visitors.  Remember, in the previous blog I told you that this community was closed to christians until 1920.

When you visit Morocco, don’t miss this.

I’ll be leaving on a jet plane Tuesday, for Spain, where I’ll be house-sitting for 5 dogs in a town 30 minutes south of Valencia.  Hasta la vista!

 

 

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Mr. Harim’s British School & Chefchaousen, The Blue City.

Greetings from Berrechid, Morocco! 23 degrees Celsius (72 approximate degrees Fahrenheit) and sunny on November 8th. I’m in a 3rd story classroom in Mr. Harim’s British Language Academy. The landscape is endlessly flat, painted in various hues of brown, edged with tall concrete apartment buildings tinted in soft yellow, pink, sage and grey topped with satellite dishes and antennas.

Planes glide over the structures regularly on their slow decent to the Casablanca airport complex.  I have been told that a large number of airport employees live here. This is a community under construction. Buildings in every direction in various stages of development.  Wide four lane streets, busy little commercial ventures like the upholstery shop, hand car wash, fruit and vegetables vendor, bakery and plumbing services snuggle up against one another.

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Typical neighborhood under construction.
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British Language Academy

The school offers four English classrooms and two classrooms for French lessons.  There are five Moroccan female teachers and up to 9 volunteers who speak English as either their native language or some  as a second language.  Right now we have volunteers from  Sweden, England, China, Canada, Czech Republic, France, New Zealand, Australia  and Spain.  We are assigned to speak English with the students at the end of the lesson to reinforce the teaching and give the students hands on practice.

Because Morocco is a Muslim country there is no class on Friday’s – their religious worship day, and no class on Sunday either.  Most days the classes begin after 1 PM and end at 9:30.

It’s now the end of my third week and I am off to see the Blue City of Chefchaousen established in 1471 in the Rif mountains in the northwest of Morocco.  (6 hours by bus from Casablanca) This city was originally white and not painted blue until 1492 when the Jews fled the inquisition in Spain.  They painted their homes, walls and streets blue because it made them feel closer to God.

Chefchaousen was also off limits to christians until 1920.

Chefchaousen is one of the most beautiful cities in Morocco and one of the most interesting for me. It’s not the beautiful and delicately carved Moorish architecture you find here and in many regions of Spain – it is the volume of surprises around every corner, the variety of designs on doors, walls, iron window grating and wild colors of scarves, shoes, djellabias and artworks.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, what follows is my narrative.

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The iconic image of Chefchaousen
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Wall murals and paintings dot the narrow alleyways
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Everyone uses tiles for decoration and practicality on floors, stairs, and walls.

 

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Paint pigments.
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The sign says you can take a photo of the enclosed patio for .50, but I thought the sign was more interesting!

 

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Water is very important to the Muslim world and fountains are found all over and everyone has access.
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Rounded a corner and saw this little guy sitting on the steps outside of his door.
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Dinner??
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No explanation needed!

 

 

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Sorry to see you go, come back soon!

More coming on the visit to Chefchaousen …. Stay tuned!

“On The Road” in Novoyavorivsk, Ukraine

If you were living in the United States in 1967, you might have watched a program called “On The Road” hosted by journalist Charles Kurault. The premis of this program was that you can find stories no matter where you are, from the largest city to the most rural farm.

It was especially educational to me because I have always been interested in traveling and meeting new people.  Charles Kurault seemed to have a magical talent for seeing the ordinary, mundane or seemingly random subjects as interesting.  He would interview ordinary folks and leave us with a new idea, viewpoint or understanding of his subject

Most of us live in a place that we take for granted, and not a place that most people would find interesting.  I grew up less than 30 miles from one of the old 7 Wonders of the World, Niagara Falls; and if you had surveyed my  high school graduation class, I would  bet that less than 25% had visited the Falls, or crossed the Peace Bridge to Canada.

In Scotland, a local resident once told me that she was always surprised at the things visitors would photograph. Things she sees on a daily basis had become mundane, ordinary and not of much interest any longer.

This month I am in the town of Novoyavorivsk (No/vo/yar/isk), Ukraine and the students from the Lingua English language school where I am volunteering were caught off guard when I asked them to tell me about their town.  Many of the students thought it was boring, nothing of interest here!

So, a challenge was presented to the older students in 3 classes.  Topics were assigned to pairs of students and they were required to write a paragraph about their topic and were also encouraged to support it with photos.  Naturally the reaction was surprise and a bit of anxiety about how to accomplish the task.  They were to interview people for information, research on line and take photos where appropriate. Could there actually be interesting things here in their town?

They were given less than one week to finish the project and at the end most of them admitted that they enjoyed the activity found things about their town that they did not know and now had new insight about Novoyavorivsk. What follows are the paragraphs and photos done by the students at the Lingua English language school.

The first question I asked the class was ” did you know that your city is the newest city in the country of Ukraine”?  Answer: No!  So two girls were assigned to find out the history of this new city, population, who lives here, what do they do, why was the city established in this location and any other interesting things about your town.  Here is their report with photos.

NOVOYAVORIVSK, UKRAINE:. Novoyaorivsk was built because in our regions deposits of sulfur were found and they wanted to build a factory; but, the workers hadn’t any place to live so they decided to build a town.

S70927-215650(1)We are located about 45 minutes west of the oblast’s administrative centre of Lviv. The town is located on a major road that ends on the Polish border and continues east on the E40 to Lviv.

S70927-220252(1)The town was founded in 1965 as a worker’s settlement called Jantarne but in 1969 it was renamed Novoyavorivsk which translates to New Yavoriv.

S70927-215857(1)We have a population of almost 40,000 people, many young families, and people who work in nearby Lviv and on the Polish border which is only 30 kilometres west.

Written by: Lidia 12 years and Viktoria 12 years

Note: the sulfur mine was closed many years ago and the land flooded, which now provides a very large and deep recreational lake in the forested area.

Most cities will have a street or two or more named after some person of fame or fortune or political standing and this town is no different; so, two of the boys were given the task of finding out why the main street was called Stepan Bandera.

STEPAN BANDERA STREET: Ukrainian Stepan Bandera was born on the 1st of January 1909 in the village of Old Uhryniv, east of Novoyavorivsk and Lviv. He was a patriot; and on the 15th of September in 1941 the Gestapo arrested him and he became a prisoner; because on the thirteenth of June, 1941, Ukranians declared an independent Ukraine state. He was imprisoned for 18 years he died on the 15th of October 1959 in Munich. The UPA  has got a flag.   The flag has two colours, red and black. The red colour symbolises freedom and the black colour symbolises death.  Written by  Andrew 11 and Taras 11.

Note: former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko awarded him the highest state honour “Hero of Ukraine”.

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THE ICE PALACE: The ice arena is the most modern in the Lviv region. It was opened in 2009. It is really one of the most interesting places in the city worth visiting.

5555ba7a39066In the last five years they created a promising hockey team “Helytski Levy” and a circle of figure skating for children. The figure skating head is a famous woman from Armenia, Suzanna Frensivna Hechatryen.   She isn’t only a coach who teaches children figure skating; but, behind her is a well-known hockey team “Helytski Levy” that she has taught to stand firmly on the ice.

She has taught children for 5 years in Ukraine.  During that time she managed to teach 150 children from the age of 3 years. According to her,  “it wasn’t easy to show 10 children how to stand rightly on the ice”.

image-0-02-05-9c96c58d594f400702eb3ab82e59a1d8218f57139658bdb979fac3469cc326f5-V-1Talking to her you’ll understand how much she likes her profession. She said “if I had a chance to move back to the past I would have started working as a teacher of ice arts”.

She was nominated as the best coach 2017 and has a lot of awards for her given work. She has worked in both Armenian and Ukrainian cities. Mrs. Suzanna confirmed that she feels more confident on the ice than on the earth.

Of course,  before every show she has some little problems like a damaged suit or a cold but in spite of everything her shows are brilliant and exciting. We understood she is really professional in her business and sure in the future careers of her students.

image-0-02-05-ec87d7e368e0e756e961227396fcac2ef91ee748d58e6d008b14f0bdc98491cd-VThe ice arena is really one of the biggest in Lviv region you can see the large number of people on the ring in the winter and autumn.  A lot of people at the age from 14 to 20 spend their evenings there.  You can also rent the skates or bring your own.  When if you are the first time on the rink you can be taught to stand on the ice by special people right away.

Written by  Julia 13 and  Tanea 14

SYDOR DIANA: This is a School of Arts it has classes twice a week. I go to art classes here.  I like to draw animals.

IMG_5975-1There are many boys and girls which have classes with me.

IMG_5976On the first floor there is a concert hall we have a performance once a year.

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THE SCHOOL OF MUSIC: the musical school is very beautiful in Novoyavorivsk.  It was built by Oleksandr Gabocan.

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In the school students learn to play the violin, guitar, piano and some other instruments. I very much like the musical school.

Written by Stas, 11

SONGFEST: Moloda Halchyna International SONGFEST has been held for the last 25 years from July 7th to the 12th.  In 2017 the international songfest was held in the city of Novoyavorivsk.

image-0-02-05-787ef5b3bcd5d155a19fa8c4b1ebbb2b024da420fa7a95a35a0d4d767c6a768e-VPerformers came from Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, Moldavia, the Georgian Republic, Poland, Estonia, Armenia, and many other countries. Representatives of Ukraine were Natalia Buchynska; Honored Singer of Ukraine, Tina Karol, plus  Katerina Burginsky and Natalka Karpa.

image-0-02-05-da007c5d46aa13827217b5c9675a922d12f752cb2f3fcc509b7ab6e65d08ba98-VThis year the Grand Prix was won by two participants Katarina Sychewska and the group Acapella Mordent from Ivano Frankivsk region of Ukraine. Written by: Yana 11

JOHA MANUFACTURERS:. JOHA is a Danish factory. Its founder is Michael Fzolund Johanson. Joha has its affiliates in Germany, Poland, Ukraine and Denmark. The first and only affiliate in Ukraine is Novoyavorivsk. It was founded in 20 February, 2001 and there are nearly 300 employees.image-0-02-05-97392774d50b4280811a1ae5aa1b5a0c520aaa93d3412beb1e2e62f747e68f86-VJoha producers clothes for teenagers, children and babies. we cannot buy these products in Ukraine because these clothes go to the export market to Germany, in the main warehouse, and then are sent to stores in Europe.  A piece of clothing made in Novoyavorivsk for 3 euros can be sold in Britain for more than 40 euros. Joha established their factory here because of the cheap labor available in Ukraine.                       Written by: Anna 14 and Yana 14

GALICIAN LIONS HOCKEY TEAM:. In autumn of 2009 Novoyavorivsk opened Hockey Club Galician Lions. This is a very popular game all over the world.

20170916_171118 At the moment the hockey training is involving 150 children aged 5 to 16 years old. Starting from 2017 Hockey Club Galician Lions was invited to participate in the International Junior Hockey League. (Romania, Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, Belarus, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Austria, Estonia) this is not a complete list of all competing countries visited by our hockey players.20170916_171022Galician Lions return from games with Victory. They took prize places. We are proud of the Galician Lion team.

Written by Ilona 11, Ann 12, and Sofia 11.

BIATHLON: the Ukrainian biathlon team of small town Novoyavorivsk was not famous for such times, but was founded 26th December 1979. It became famous with their championship in 2007 (Vitaliy Koshushoke   and Vitaliy Kilchitskiy).

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The first impression of the sports centre is not very good because Yantar is small and old; but, inside you can find a swimming pool, sports hall, sauna and shooting hall. In the directors study it is warmer than the gym.

IMG_2764_1485872985Roman Poluga is the best headmaster of the Yantar because he has done everything that he could do to this gym, the best way he could.

Без названия (1)Без названияNow you can learn how to ski, shoot and become a champion. There are also groups other than biathlon like athletics, football and jumping.

It is sad but the financing is bad. Roman Poluga must pay his own money to make this Sports Centre comfortable.

I want to thank Petro Shypka about the information.

Written by Illya, 11

. . . And, most communities have monuments …

IMG-df3ec85398089f3135dedfe3faada2f3-VThe monument to Taras Shevchenko was solemnly opened on July 12th 1997 with participation of a large number of people of the Greek Catholic, and Orthodox communities in the city; headed by their rectors, representatives of public and political organisations, city and district authorities.

Taras Hryhorovich Shevchenko was born February 25th (or March 9th new style calendar) in the year 1814 in Morintsy, Ukraine and died February 26th (March 10th new style calendar) 1861 St. Petersburg, Russia. He was the foremost Ukrainian poet, prose writer, painter and playwright of the 19th century and, a major figure of the Ukrainian national revival.

Taras Shevchenko was a man of universal talent. All his life and creative work was dedicated to the people of Ukraine. The poet would dream about the time when his country would be a free sovereign state where the Ukrainian language, culture and history would be highly valued and the people would be happy and free.

Born a serf  Shevchenko was freed in 1838 while a student at the St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts. His first collection of poems entitled Kobzar (1840) expressed the historicism and the folkloristic interests of the Ukrainian Romantics; but his poetry soon moved away from nostalgia for Cossack life,  to a more sombre portrayal of Ukrainian history particularly in the long poem “Haidamaks” (1841).

IMG-5f416ab2386dca05b3b1a58e69d2979d-VMonument to the “Heavenly Hundred” opened on 29th August 2016. During 18 to 22 February 2017 Ukraine honored the memory of the Euromaidan protesters killed three years ago in the bloodiest clashes, in Kiev. Protesting against government corruption, activists called the “Heavenly Hundred”… the name containing an allusion to the Kozak XVII century army (Sotnia) were assembled at the Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence square) to protest, where eventually, more than 100 unarmed people were killed.

IMG-b57881c74f1f821f48abedb8c360be70-VThe monument to Ivan Mazepa was solemnly established August 24th 1997. A military, political and state figure hetman (title given to military figure) of the Zaporozhian army. Born March 20th, 1639 in the village of Mazepyntsi in the Kyiv District he was the head of a Cossack Left-bank state and the entire Dnieper, Ukranine.

Ivan Stepanovych Mazapa was awarded the title of Prince of the Holy Roman Empire in 1707 for his efforts in the Holy League.

He was from a noble, notoriously right-bank Ukrainian family.  He was well educated finishing at Kyiv-Mohyla College and Jesuitical college in Warsaw. He also studied for 3 years in Germany, Italy, France, and Holland where he received an education in cultural and political affairs. He also spoke several foreign languages.

His national and political convictions were settled during his service at the time  of hetmen Petro Doroshenko and Ivan Samoylovych who had programs on renaissance of an independent and saborna (unified) Ukrainian state.

He was the first Ukrainian hetman who was steadily holding the mace during almost 22 years. His period was marked by economic advancement of Ukraine.  It stabilised social situations and created an upsurge of church life and culture.

Written by Anastasia 12  and Photos by Alya S.

Thanks to all the students who worked on this project.  Well Done!!!

If I missed anyone, please resend and I will edit it into the blog.

NOTE: some minor changes were made for ease of reading.

 

 

 

 

 

Sumptuous $4.50 Breakfast in L’viv, Ukraine

My friend Liliya brought me to BAR BACZEWSKI a place I had seen during my wanderings around Lviv; but, passed by because the picture window was advertising alcohol and I was not looking for alcohol.

She explained that this was a very posh restaurant; and took me inside.  She explained that even if there were tables available for dinner if you did not have a reservation they would not seat you, but the breakfast was a really great deal.

Liliya told me that I must be there about 7:30 in the morning. The doors opened at 8 and there was always a line of people waiting to get in for the breakfast.

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I was Number Four in line yesterday morning and by the time the doors opened there must have been 30 or 35 people in line behind me.

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Consider the price at Starbucks or any other nice coffee shop you will pay $4.50, approximately, for a coffee and maybe a pastry.  At this buffet your choices are amazing as you can see by the above photo.  You have a glass of wine, a glass of champagne, coffee or a tea and your choice of breakfast items for $4.50.

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And the ambience is absolutely free!

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Beautiful yellow cockatiels chirping away joyfully as you peruse the buffet tables.

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Omelette made to order!

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Fruit delights and champagne!

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Coffee tea and pastry!

IMG_20170929_085717Enjoy your breakfast with Chopin, Mozart or other famous European composers played on a piano.  The $4.50 breakfast. Eat your heart out!

I will be returning tomorrow morning at 7:30.

 

 

 

 

 

The Lviv Coffee Grind Continues

Today my friend Liliya brought me to the Shtuka Art Cafe in the old Jewish Quarter of the city.  The first thing that caught my eye was the words written on the walls. Although I don’t read Ukranian, Polish or Hebrew it was obvious that the building had lived another life before Shtuka.

IMG_20170903_110237Stepping through the door is like stepping back in history. There are so many things to see you really don’t know where to look first. It was extremely fortunate that the owner, Eugene was on site, and gave Liliya and I a walk back through history.

The cafe was established in 1909 by a Polish man from Krakow who had an interest and background in art. This was that place where prominent artists were invited to have exhibitions of their work and sell their paintings.  They sometimes traded their work for meals.

In 2009 The interior of the cafe was updated and since then Eugene has had more than 110 exhibits of art, photography, drawings, music and readings in the cafe.  Once a month people with an interest in the history of the district of Galicia, which is where L’viv is located, meet to discuss or listen to lectures about this history.

As my breakfast arrives Eugene begins to point out historical items in the cafe and describe their rebirth/renovation.  “Look at the ceiling”.  He said it took 5 students from the art college 6 months with special erasers to remove the grime covering the original paintings on the ceiling.IMG_20170903_115436Obviously, when your eyes are looking up, you notice the original light fixtures and glass shades … All rescued from other buildings or discovered in antique shops.

IMG_20170903_113923All of the framed photographs, have the original  printed name of the photo studio on the photo.

IMG_20170903_110547Have you ever seen an original stereopticon?  Like conjoined twins,  these photos are seen through a special viewer that was dubbed “the magic lantern”.  You can look on the web and find photos of stereopticons, but Eugene has an original framed with the photos.

IMG_20170903_114807In addition to the photos, Eugene also found in the basement of the building, a Hebrew school poster which he has framed and hung just inside the door.

IMG_20170903_114600More than a decade ago, and my first visit to Florence, Italy my travelling companion said to me “do you need to touch everything”? and I replied with a smile, “yes’ I do”!  I am a tactile person and love to touch all kinds of materials so I HAD to run my hands over the recovered tiles, that Eugene had saved, from buildings that were being either demolished or renovated.

Meet Eugene and Liliya and the current photography exhibition.

IMG_20170903_115447Then there is the memorabilia like the candy boxes and very small glasses for alcohol beverage consumption.  Here is the story  …  in 1882 the first confectionery plant “Branka” was founded in L’viv,  two decades later the “Gazet” factory appeared and together they manufactured 5 tons of sweets per year. Yes the number is correct!  In Soviet times the two confectioners formed the basis for the large “Svitoch” factory established in 1962. They operated under special conditions where typically, experiments in chocolate recipes would be restricted and thought of as going beyond the standardised Soviet manufacturing framework  which was not allowed here … but.  the employees found this stimulating. The product was so good, it resulted in chocolatiers from all over the Soviet Union coming to study and adopting these practices. These chocolates and candies were rated as the best gourmet sweets in Ukraine.  The Soviet government was won over by chocolates!

These special products were exported and Ukraine was the chocolate capital of the USSR.  Today, the international food giant Nestle is the owner but it does not stand out so much anymore from all of the competitors in the market.

So why am I telling you the story of these chocolates?  It is because Eugene has rescued original containers from these historic chocolate factories.

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IMG_20170903_114248Up to this point at this little cafe we have history, art, poetry, photography, ceramic tiles, ceiling paintings, lighting and now to the story of the rescued piano.

One day Eugene came across a residence that was being updated and he saw a man trying very hard to push a piano out into the street.  Fortunately, the piano was stronger than the man and he could not complete the task on that day. Eugene found the owner of the piano and negotiated the sale of same. He then had the piano restored on the inside (the guts). The outside at the piano is beautiful and the only thing he had to do was clean it and put a little oil and what appears to be rosewood. The piano is actually used for musical evenings in the cafe.

IMG_20170903_115031And, last, but far from least … the coffee and pastries are splendid.

IMG_20170903_114928PS:. The Shtuka Cafe has been awarded Best Art Cafe in Lviv, 4 consecutive years.

IMG_20170903_115610Well, gotta go.  Liliya and I will be returning to the Shtuka tonight for a guitar evening.

 

IMG_20170903_192657Young, soulful guitarist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When is a cemetery also an official museum?

ANSWER: When it is Lychakiv Cemetery in Lviv, Ukraine.

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Created in 1786 this is not just a beautifully landscaped park it is also an open air museum of beautiful sculptures and architecture.

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The earliest gravestones date back to the 17th century although there are few gravestones from that time currently in the cemetery. There was a decision made in the 19th century that they would crush any gravestones that had not been taken care of for more than 25 years; and the crushed stones were used to pave the cemetery alley’s.

You can trace the history of L’viv and Galacia by the names of those buried at the cemetery most of whom are outstanding politicians, scientists, writers, and artists from Polish, Ukrainian, German and Armenian tombstones.

Today you cannot be buried here unless you already have purchased a plot or you are a Ukrainian famous person.

This is “Sleeping Beauty” actress Regina MarkovskaIMG_20170609_092611.jpg

I was very surprised to see a large monument to 3 American servicemen, who helped to fight in the war alongside the Ukrainian military 1919 – 1920.

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Not far from this monument is an enormous military cemetery where Ukrainian and Polish children are brought by their schools to learn their history. “Lest they never forget.” (this photo is about 25% of the area).

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On the top of the hill there is another military cemetery dedicated to Polish soldiers who fought on Ukrainian soil.

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There are more than three hundred thousand graves at this cemetery and many of the tombstones are beautiful works of art.

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And some want their personality, or their ethnicity to show.

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in addition to the monuments you will encounter small chapels.

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NOTE: to my friend Lynn, and others who enjoy browsing cemeteries:

When visiting Lviv you can order a tour on the cemetery website at: http://www.lviv-lychakiv.ukrain.travel

Bring your camera, a bottle of water and comfortable walking shoes. Be prepared for 2-4 hours to walk the entire cemetery.

The Father of Masochism … and other famous L’vivians

It was a sunny day in L’viv, Ukraine and I was strolling along the cobbled streets near the town square when I saw this beautiful and yet slightly quirky statue of a man in formal wear standing in front of a doorway that look like a keyhole.  I stood across the street and tried to determine what this man did or who he was and why he was standing in front of a doorway that looks like a keyhole. My first thought was he must be a magician because the left pocket of his trousers was open like maybe he had some cards or some kind of trick in his pocket. Then I noticed that there was a right hand circling the thigh of his right leg. Whose hand?  Obviously not his why was it there? And then I saw the naked woman on the left-hand side of the lining of his coat and it looked as though she were laying on fur … what’s that about?

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Let me introduce you to Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch, the first person with the clinical diagnosis of Masochism – “the enjoyment of pain; tendency to derive sexual gratification from one’s own pain and humiliation with things such as bondage. Pleasure in being abused or dominated.”

His condition was diagnosed by Austrian psychiatrist Richard Freiherr Von Krafft-Ebing who said, ” I feel justified in calling this sexual abnormality masochism because author Sacher-Masoch frequently made this perversion, which up to the time was quite unknown to the scientific world as such, the substratum of his writings. I followed thereby by the scientific formation of the term Daltonism from Dalton the discoverer of colour blindness.”

If you put your hand into the open pocket you will encounter exactly what you expect!

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Born January 27th 1836, died 9th March 1895. Austrian writer and journalist who gained some fame for romantic stories of Galatian life; who studied law and history and became a professor.  He wrote about folklore and culture of Austrian history and Galicia specifically.

In 1869 he had an idea for a series of short stories entitled “Legacy of Cain” of the 6 planned volumes only 2 were ever written – one of which was “Venus in Furs” based on his wife and his fantasies about being dominated by women. He is credited with introducing sexually charged and erotic works of deviant behaviour and the pleasure of Masochism to the world.

The story goes that he pressured his wife to engage in this activity, but she refused opening the door for his mistress Baroness Fanny Pistor,  who signed a contract making him her slave for six months with the stipulation that she wear furs as often as possible, especially when she was in a cruel mood.

He found family life boring and eventually divorced his wife and married his assistant.

Sidenote: He was the great-uncle of British singer Marianne Faithful, on her mother’s side.

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The literary flea market is just past the red trolley at a small square.

#2. Ivan Federov, produced the first printed book in Ukraine.

Bullied out of Moscow in the time of Ivan the Terrible by the religious leaders because they were threatened by his potential power to print books that would take away their livelihood as scribes; and, be a danger to their monopoly on religious doctrine issues.  He moved to the peace loving city of L’viv, and created the first publishing house, and published the first book in 1574 called “Deeds and Epistles of the Holy Apostles”.  There was an original printing run of 1200 copies and today close to 100 copies have been preserved in libraries throughout Europe and in private collections.

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Every day Ivan stands proudly over his flock of booksellers at the daily literary flea market near the market square. I, myself have purchased a few English language novels here.  It is one of my favourite places because of the wide variety, age and subject matter and people you see here.

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Support free speech no matter where you are!

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Just a quick 2 minute stroll from the literary flea market you will find the statue of L’viv resident Nikifor Drovniak.

#3. Nikifor Drovniak, illiterate “naïve” artist

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This man was born in 1895, in a small Polish Village to very poor parents and was orphaned in WW1.   He inherited a hearing and speech impediment from his mother. Because of these environmental conditions he was culturally and emotionally isolated, could not communicate with people and therefore was treated as a misfit in society.

The one thing that he did continuously throughout his life was to create through watercolor and graphic art.  It is reported that he felt that God had given him a mission through the use of color and design.  He would draw on anything he could find … small pieces of paper, cardboard, chocolate wrappers, or the opposite side of used paper, using the cheapest paint available. None of his works were any larger than a standard piece of paper.

He was focused on and devoted to the Greek Catholic church as demonstrated by the subject of the drawings.  Churches, chapels, religious leaders and saints; along with landscapes and railroad subjects.  He also created many self portraits.

No-one really knows how many drawings he had done, but the estimate is in excess of 30,000.  In 1932 a L’viv based artist took the drawings and paintings to  the Leon Marseilles gallery in Paris, France and it was there that Nikifor became a legitimately recognised “naïve” artist. Many of his works are in private collections. There are a few in the National Museum in L’viv but most of his canvases are in the small Polish town of Krynica at his museum.

Although he was a recognised artist he struggled in poverty his entire life, often trading his works for food.  People along the way did help him, but his early life experiences kept him distant from society.

You can learn more about this remarkable man through a 2006 movie called My Nikifor.  Go to: Culture.pl/en/work/my-nikifor-krause