Confusion was the overwhelming sensation of the past weekend when some other teachers and I made a quick girls-only trip to the southern seaside city of Odessa. We all basically endured a 9-hour sleepless train ride to get there, but that didn’t matter once we arrived because the brightness of the sunshine perked us all up like a double shot of espresso. Actually, I spent a large part of that day in tears, and not because I was sad. I just hadn’t seen that much sun in quite some time!
My job was to find the hostel, so, being the strong navigator that I am, I got us there fairly quickly, even after we found ourselves stopping numerous times just to question whether we were actually still in Ukraine or not. At first glance, one can seriously picture downtown Odessa as part of any other city in Europe!
Upon arrival at the hostel, we were greeted by the wonderful owner. “Yes, come in girls,” he said. “Take off your clothes.”
Uhm… Questioning looks were shot between Tanya and I as we tried to figure out just what we got ourselves into. The owner immediately realized what he said and blamed it on him being Polish, which I later found out to be true even though his British accent definitely made me suspicious for many hours to come.
The girls and I dropped off our stuff and headed out to the city. Oh, what an amazing city it was! Here are some of the reasons Odessa was so cool:
1) We ate an ecclectic mix of food including something Mexican inspired, Georgian, and Italian. It’s definitely hard to realize you’re in Ukraine when you find yourself eating nachos and drinking beer while the sun is brightly shining and Nelly is on the radio!
2) We basked in the sun at the Black Sea. Industrial port city? What?! The beach we found had the most perfect blue water, and seagulls like you wouldn’t imagine!
3) We bonded with wildlife, such as lions, horses, and birds. Yes, Lauren even found out its possible to see women riding horses at 2 am in this city. Is Odessa sounding more and more like a fairy tale to you, too?!
4) We hit up the markets around town, browsing like a group of girls in a shopping mall. I was even able to feed my ring addiction there.
Overall, we felt that when we walked around in Odessa, we were a part of it. There’s a certain distance one receives when trying to get to know a large place like Kyiv, so the atmosphere of Odessa was much welcomed by all four of us. It’s hard to tell if our impressions of the city are valid or not since we only spent a very, very short time there, but I think I’m going to sum it up by saying this: Odessa is in Ukraine, but we still felt it necessary to question this fact many, many times.