Ever since I first visited Lviv, Ukraine last year, I've been wanting to book a return trip. And I finally got my chance. In fact, I get to visit even more of Ukraine this time around, including Odessa and Kyiv.
But first, Lviv.
Lviv's main square (called Rynok in Ukrainian) is littered with restaurants and bars. Many of them are mostly owned by the same company, Fest Lviv, that calls their establishments "emotional restaurants".
Fest's themed restaurants were the highlight of my Lviv experience. I was fortunate enough to visit most of them during my stay. And once again, I was not disappointed.
Our first meal was at a restaurant that doubles as a museum. Gas Lamp holds one of the biggest collections of gas lamps in Europe. It serves drinks like lab experiments, from test tube shots to weird looking coffees.
The "kissing smoke coffee" was by far my favorite coffee during the entire trip. No other coffee came close.
Next up, we celebrated Joanna's birthday at The Most Expensive Galician Restaurant, a place that's hard to find, but that's part of its charm. We walked up a seemingly random apartment building, knocked on apartment #8, and was greeted by a burly dude who looked like he was being disturbed in his home, but then who took us behind the curtains to a beautiful restaurant, garden, and even bathroom.
The prices were astronomical in order to keep up with the name of the restaurant. Not to fret, though. They add an extra 0 to the price of each item on the menu, and then proceed to give diners a 90% discount at the end of the meal.
Try the goose breast. You'll be glad you did.
This executioner-themed restaurant had all sorts of torture devices that would fit right into Game of Thrones. There was a human cage right in the middle of the action to boot. Go early before the dinner crowd, or else you'll have to wait a while, but it's worth your time either way.
Be prepared when you ask for your bill. You might get a loud surprise.
Another restaurant dedicated to serving juicy meat. No wonder I felt like I was in heaven. The specialty here was non other than pork ribs. I cracked up when I saw the waitress draw silverware on my table. It was all about getting your fingers dirty here. The medieval theme included a display of century-old swords and a wait staff that all carry axes to prepare meals for diners.
Just like Meat and Justice, come here early or be prepared to wait in a long line.
Besides all the gluttony, we also took the opportunity to take a short stroll out of the main square and visit Lviv Skansen. Dubbed as an open air museum, it was more like a giant park with a ton of history and a beautiful old school church. Many village homes from back in the day were reconstructed here to show visitors a glimpse of Ukraine past. It even had a small zoo with chickens, donkeys, and goats. Go figure.
The Skansen was apparently popular for weddings as well, as we saw a couple of ceremonies take place. We ended up staying a few relaxing hours here, just chilling and hanging out. It was well worth the $1.56 admission fee.
Since we were visiting Lviv for a couple of weeks this time around instead of a couple of days, we couldn't just eat and drink until our tummies bursted every single day. Believe me, I tried. And it did not make my abs look pretty.
So on top of hitting the gym, I got on the BJJ mat as well. It felt really good to get a good sweat going after a big night out. ZR Team Lviv invited me to join them as a guest. They were warm and welcoming, and it was an awesome experience. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu really does feel like a worldwide community, no matter where you're from or what language you speak. It was awesome.
My first trip to Lviv was eye-opening. My second trip to Lviv was a lot less of a culture shock. I knew what to expect this time around (including old ladies selling whatever they can get their hands on and asking for change on the street), and I was more prepared for it. I felt like I was able to relax a bit more and enjoy the experience at a slower pace rather than running around like mad trying to see and do everything before time ran out.
Being so far away from the States, Ukraine doesn't get a ton of American visitors, but I think people who only visit Western Europe are missing out. Not only is Ukraine, and Lviv specifically, much more affordable than pretty much all other European countries (if there are more affordable places to visit, I haven't been to them), it is very safe. Being able to walk around alone in the middle of the night is a luxury back home, but it's normal life here, which is crazy just thinking about it.
Next up is an 11-hour train ride to Odessa. I can't wait to see what's in store for me there.
Crazy Rich Asians has been a huge success in the box office by any standards. In the three weeks since the movie hit American theaters, it has grossed over $100 million. Not bad for a film with a modest $30 million budget.
But more importantly, the movie has united the Asian American community. Finally, we get to see a movie that resonated with us.
A marriage proposal is supposed to be epic, right? Us guys get one shot to propose, and we better pull it off flawlessly if we don't want to be incessantly teased about how "you had one job!"
Well, hardly anything ever works out the way you envisioned it to. I've heard plenty of personal stories about mishaps, ruined surprises, and the most dreaded "I'll think about it" answer to a poor guy popping the big question in front of his friends.
I was introduced to Ryan Lee a couple of years ago. A mutual friend knew I was thinking about changing my career trajectory and suggested Freedym to me. I was impressed. Ryan definitely knew his stuff.
Now that 2017 is behind us, it's time to move forward. The year 2018 looks mighty bright, so let's turn on the engine and put the pedal to the metal. Here are my top 5 task goals for 2018.
Wow. What a year it has been. It feels like I fit a decade's worth of experiences and emotions into just one year. Here's a recap of my 2017 year in review.
I quit my finance job, gave up my apartment in Hollywood, and sold my sports car. Instead, I traveled the world with my girlfriend Joanna on the cheap, organized the Work Anywhere Summit, started teaching English online, and launched this blog.
Life will never be the same again.
Here's to 12 months worth of jubilation and frustration, ups and downs, laughter and tears.
Most importantly, here's to doing (most of) it all over again in 2018.
I’ve been following Tim Ferriss for quite some time, long enough that I don’t even remember when I read his first book, The Four Hour Work Week. All I know is that I’ve read all of his books, read a bunch of his blog posts, and listened to most of his podcast episodes.
To say that I’m a fan and student of Tim would be an understatement.
In his most recent TED Talk, Tim shared an exercise that he does at least once a quarter, sometimes once a month. He revealed the steps he took to conquer the fear that his company would implode without him working there for 14 hours a day. The fact that he was this close to committing suicide in college probably didn’t help, either.
Jubilation erupts on the El Modena High School football field across the street from the Starbucks I’m in. I wonder what the commotion is all about, look down at my iPhone, and see that it says June 15th. It must be high school graduation season.
That’s cool, I guess. Just like every June prior to this one, all the students in attendance are happily enduring the SoCal summer heat. They are punctuating the school year and move on with the rest of their lives.
Perhaps you’ve heard various versions of the American dream a million times already.
In this all-too-common version, an Asian kid excels at math or science and ends up attending a reputable university. He graduates with flying colors and gets himself a high-paying professional job.
He becomes an accountant or a lawyer or a doctor and makes his parents proud. And he repays them for all their years of hard work by making sure that they never have to worry about money again.
Maybe he even goes to grad school before marrying a nice Asian girl. They pop out a couple of cute kids and live in a nice big house.
'Tis the (Asian) American dream, after all.