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Published: August 20th 2013
Do you listen to your friends...or don't you?
My friend Christophe P told me...why do you bother with Belgrade-Sofia-Bucharest-Chisinau....go straight on to Odessa....
My last two exes told me...as long as we are together, Ukraine is on your black-list...it's a no-go zone....hey....you read this, I'm not with them anymore...
What the internet says....well....google anything about Odessa or Ukraine in English....and it brings you straight on to sex...or how to get an Ukrainian wife...
Can you explain to me why none of these people or the world wide web doesn't mention the food, the architecture, the churches, and the art performances....well....guess what, it seems it's all about the women! And after visiting 115 countries, I have to admit, the most beautiful ladies are not in Paris...and if they are, they are Ukrainian...the most beautiful women on earth...do come from Ukraine.
Ok, this is said, so now let's focus on the most important...let's focus on Odessa!
Well, first regret...and as I've started this blog on a solid note of humor, let's continue...I should have listened a little more to the gorgeous
Russian young lady (and still very good friend) I dated for more than a year before the "last two above"...why didn't I learn more Russian during these 14 months?
There are not that many foreign tourists in Odessa, obviously beside the Russians...and most of them seem to be young single men on a mission....and that's not visiting the local architecture...I'm sure you are starting to have fun reading this.
So I first arrived in Odessa just before lunch time. Plan was to first buy my night train ticket to Kiev. Well, easier say than done...first queue for 15 minutes to find I was in the wrong place. That's ok, I can forgive myself for not reading Cyrillic and not arriving with any type of travel information. Next queue, well, no queue, was the good counter...the second class, 4 berths, were already fully booked, but for 50usd, I got a first class, two beds cabin...and by the way, a very nice fun ride two days later. Coming on this later one...
This is the high season in Odessa...actually the top of it is from 1st till 15th August...all Ukraine is here...if they
are not partying in Kazantip...or in Cannes...and the other half of the tourists are coming from Russia. So forget about finding a cheap hotel. Not a single international hotel brand is here...and forget about staying in a hostel for me on this trip...and I was not going to rent a flat on my own.
After some serious homework, I decided on the Hotel Continental. It's a 4 stars hotel, right in the center of the Old Town...few meters from the Opera House. The room was clean and comfortable...nothing amazing, but it did a great job.
And now, Odessa itself...
You can basically divide the city in four areas when it comes to the interest of any tourist. There is "downtown", the center of the old town, perched above the port....small place...gorgeous place...
Than there is the city... I would say the 2km between the Opera House and the Railway Station. Old buildings, nice shops...and a pretty clean city. Third, you have the beaches, covering many kilometers right next to the city...that's the Black Sea! Than there is everything else...housing more than a million of inhabitants...and seems to be,
not the nicest area to walk around on your own fully equipped as the tourist you may be.
The Old Town is simply gorgeous. I took a two hour tour...average quality guide, but met some fun Greeks...the thirty years old something who went to Harvard...and we finished the tour by few rounds of beer...and some really interesting conversations. First afternoon learning about Odessa...first evening...chatting with the Greeks...
Next day, I decided to venture a little further. There is this huge park...where I wouldn't venture after sunset...the place even had an oOld Fort...nothing to write about...than there are the beaches....well...how can people stay there to sun tan a full day is still behind my understanding...but well, they can crowd themselves on dirty concrete and sand if they wish too.
Than came...the truly disgusting. Next to the beach, they have opened a place called Nemo...and here, they put 4 dolphins in a tiny swimming pool. The people who did this should be in jail...as well a the people who let it be done. But we are in Odessa....home of serious mafias...I guess if they can traffic human slaves....who cares about few dolphins. Disgusting!
Shame on them!
That said...let's speak about next stop. 30usd get you...a top seat at the Odessa Theatre...and today, the Bolshoi is "on holidays" in Odessa....so as I'm here, ready to see for something like my 5th time Gisele. Sadly, the Bolshoi is here, but they don't have an Orchestra...so not the best acoustic ever, but I can guarantee you, that ballet....that was something. Next "ballet" stop will be early October, Cinderella with Tiffany and Leslie...at the Kirov, not really the same price!
The night was not over...another bowl of Pelmenis...and I was on to Ibiza club. Odessa has a reputation for huge clubs...and Ibiza, seems to be the jewel of the crown. Well...spent a good part of my night there. Shanghai is good, but this place is pretty insane...in a joy of youth type of fun....friendly people...ready for a good party...if only I could speak some Russian...but still spent a good part of the time having fun with a group of frenchies...who never saw anything like this before! Oh yes, and I have to admit it....seems more people in Ukraine are married by the time they are 30....it shows...that was a young crowd...but
for a night of fun... who cares!
My next day was spent exploring even more the city. Don't ask me how many kilometers I walked the last few days.
Than came the night train to Kiev...short of 500km...do take a whooping 10 hours! Nice old style first class carriage with only 2 beds. I ended up sharing it with Anastasia. She is living in Kiev, but in Odessa to open a high-end strip club...recruiting the "girls" and training them. Great English command, and it's fun to see what international law can lead too. I can tell you, I learnt a lot about Ukraine....and I see you already...sorry, she was coming back to here boyfriend that she hadn't seen for 3 weeks...smile!
Next entry coming pretty soon...my last little stop of this little trip...Kiev!
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