I could feel Odessa was going to be a great experience from my arrival. I called Vladamir, a friend of a friend of a student who was in the audience during this speech who told me if I ever went to Odessa she’d make sure everything was taken care of. He was close by and greeted me with a big smile, laid back attitude, and warmth.
Over the course of the next week I’d fall for Odessa in many ways.
I never cared much about nature before. I didn’t dislike it, but I grew up with allergies and generally was a more indoors person. As I’ve gotten older and experienced nature’s beauty around the world, I’ve come to appreciate it in a way I never imagined possible.
I mention this about nature because Odessa was so beautifully green for being a city. Ukrainian cities in general are fantastically green, but Odessa was something special. Regardless of the hot sun overhead, most streets were lined with tall trees that provided shade. There are huge parks in and around the city, much to the dismay of developers who would love to build on such prime real estate next to the sea.
I think Odessa made me realize that I have to live in a city with lungs.
Odessa has many beaches within walking distance of the city. During the summer it’s full of tourists from across Ukraine and the Russian-speaking world. There is much vegetation near the shore so the water isn’t as clear as you might expect from farther east in Crimea. Perhaps this is where the term Black Sea came from.
Still, one cool thing. I don’t know what it’s called and couldn’t find it searching on the internet, but I know I’ve seen pictures of it. There is some kind of plant in the Black Sea that at certain times of the year lights up as you agitate the sea at night. It’s an amazing sight to behold, and it happens here. But I wasn’t there while it happens.
I have to admit something. I know absolutely nothing about architecture. In fact, I can barely spell the word. 90% of the time I spell it wrong. But I know beautiful buildings when I see them, and Odessa is full of beautiful buildings. See for yourself.
I don’t know how else to say this, but I was flabbergasted by how beautiful the people were in Odessa. It was impossible for me to tell who was local and who was foreign, but it didn’t matter. There was a never-ending stream of incredibly beautiful people all day throughout the city.
That said, I noticed something about Ukraine that applies to many places I’ve visited – the U.S. as well to some extent. The same person can be a complete angel and wonderful human being in normal life, but stick them in a customer service role interacting with customers and they change..completely. And it’s a change for the worse.
I met many people in Kiev who were wonderful and nice, so that’s what I’ll choose to remember. But I also had horrible experiences interacting with locals in the train station, bus station, restaurants, etc. Maybe the fact that Odessa is a touristy town made it worse. I don’t know if I’ve said it on my blog before, but I feel like manners are life’s lubrication. Life is rough and tough, but good manners throughout make this rough and tough situation all the more bearable for everyone. I can live without said manners present in society, but they are nice to have.
Here are some other pictures from Odessa you may enjoy.