We flew to Boryspil airport in Kyiv, stayed two nights to get our feet on the ground and flew on to Lviv. The TI desk at the Lviv airport was exceedingly helpful in finding a hotel for us and giving precise directions for getting there. We stayed at the Grand Hotel, very reasonable, good people, lots of help, and well located. The hotel desk arranged for an English speaking driver to take us north about 80k to a village where one of my wife's grandparents lived before moving to Canada. It was at the end of the road and the driver couldn't believe a place like that still existed. We lunched at the People's Cafe, visited the old Jewish section, visited some museums and watched several political demonstrations. We had lunch at the Leopold von Sacher-Masoch cafe. I'm sure you are all familiar with his fame. The waitress all have little soft whips they use on the men. I said, "More". She said, "More?". I said, "Yes, more and harder" whereupon she just laughed. We climbed to the top of the city clock tower's 380 steps. I'm pushing 73 and it was a job. We visited with a number of citizens. Lviv is Ukraine's most European city and we liken it to Bucuresti. It is a city we would go back to.
Monte, I'm a bit behind on reading trip reports - so glad to see one about Ukraine. It's been 5 or 6 years since our last visit (our first was in 2003, then 2008 or something like that). We loved Lviv (2003)- thought of it as a mini-Prague (hadn't been to Budapest at that point). With the university there, we did encounter more English speakers - though we also found them in very SE Crimea (2008). Our second trip was to find old Mennonite villages in southern Ukraine - we were on a dedicated tour along the lower Dneiper River and Crimea. You are quite brave to travel on your own - do you speak Ukrainian or Russian? We traveled with our daughter who speaks some Russian and a bit of Ukrainian after living there for about 1 1/2 yrs. Your advice to learn the alphabet is very good - so much can be sounded out once you do that - and some even makes sense in English. I look forward to reading more - I think the way you posted was fine - starting with "Ukraine" helps. I hope more travelers will begin to explore Eastern Europe a bit more (we'll get to Poland one day,too).
Like you, I wanted to visit a village where my fraternal ancestors lived for several generation. As mentioned we visited two of my wife's ancestral villages and found relatives still existing in one. The village I was interested in near Odessa has a new name but the old name was Peterstahl. It was one of the German farmer settlements and we want to find my grandfather's birthplace. They were evangelicals. The director of the Tourist Information had been there and said nothing now exists that would indicate Germans ever lived there, and the old church has been converted to Orthodox and has a dome. He set up an appointment for us with the Odessa Oblast Archives director so we could see if any birth records from the village existed. We visited the archives the next day and with the director's great help established the records we needed had wither been destroyed in the war or shipped to St. Petersburg. We are now at an end in that search. As with many German agricultural settlers in Ukraine, mine jumped across the border into the Dobruja region of Romania. From there they jumped to South Dakota. We have been both places to tie up geneological loos ends. Our trip to Romania was last year, on our own, and took us from Istanbul to Amsterdam on trains.