It hadn’t stopped raining since my arrival in L’viv the previous day, but I actually welcomed the weather change. Up until that point I had dealt with heavy snowfall in Kyiv, cold and aggressive winds in Odessa, and solid ice that turned the streets of Chernivtsi and Kamianets-Podilsky into a death trap, so I was ok with rain and temperatures in the plus. I had been to L’viv around the same time the previous year, but there were a few spots that I had missed and wanted to visit—such as the Yard of Lost Toys.
The Yard of Lost Toys is a small open area full of old stuffed animals and other objects behind a building in the city center. The toys sit forgotten all over the place on old pieces of furniture, decaying from the passing of time and exposure to the elements.
Legend says that a tenant of the building once found a couple of toys and left them sitting outside in hopes that their owner would come back for them. The kid never came back for the toys; instead, other toys started appearing. Over the years, the yard became a place where toys are left to die—a cemetery of childhood memories and happy moments.
The morning rain had become a light drizzle by the time I got to the Yard of Lost Toys. I stood in front of it and lit a cigarette; a curious woman looked at me through the window of a dentist office in the same building and then carried on. I walked around for a bit before starting to take pictures. Then, I thought about the place itself and what it represented—according to my own interpretation, anyway.
Melancholy. That’s what it was. Guess I was looking at the symbolism of an abandoned toy. Or it might have just been the rainy weather. I didn’t think the place was creepy or anything; rather, I just saw it as an unfortunate altar to the imminent end of childhood.
Obviously, the majority of the toys here are not lost but got added to the collection—a nice way to say they just got dumped there. There were no new toys; most were huge stuffed animals and at least two decades old.
Two other visitors arrived. I lit a cigarette, and one of them came over to ask me for a light. They were from Mariupol, in Eastern Ukraine, and were visiting Western Ukraine for the first time. As it happens when you travel, we teamed up to explore the city, but that’s a story for another time.
For general information about visiting Ukraine check out my detailed guide here.
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