The final stop on our Ukrainian adventure (excluding our return to Kiev to fly home) was Odesa. Unfortunately the overnight train from L’viv was brutal, leaving me in a less than pleasant mood upon arrival. It was an older train which was unbelievably hot, so shaky and didn’t allow for much sleeping during the night. While standing in the desperately needed shower once we arrived, I realized I was dizzy (train-sick?) from the constant moving of the train all night. With the beginnings of a sore throat I began to suspect (and then later confirm after our trek back to Kiev) that multiple overnight trains in one week isn’t the smartest idea.
Odesa doesn’t have nearly as many cafes as L’viv but we managed to find one that we like well enough to visit 3 times in 36 hours. We had the same waiter twice in one day. He didn’t seemed phased by it. He also didn’t seem phased by the fact that I had a photo shoot with my cup of tea (new camera, good lighting…). I mean, weren’t they just the cutest cups of tea you’ve ever seen!?!
We heard the opera house was stunning, and what better way to check it out than by seeing an opera (my first). For any of you opera buffs out there we saw Pagliacci. We were smart enough to read a synopsis of the story beforehand so that those of us (me) who don’t understand Italian or Russian – it was subtitled – wouldn’t be completely lost.
The rumors were correct, the opera house was beautiful. For $10 we had prime balcony seats and felt a bit cultured, if only for a few hours.
Supposedly Odesa is quite a hotspot in the summer, maybe not rivaling but probably imitating Ibiza. We were a bit late in the season to experience the nightlife (although lets be serious here, when was the last time I stayed up all night partying?), but that didn’t mean we couldn’t enjoy the beach.
The water wasn’t too cold. I wasn’t about to jump in, but there was a rather sun-weathered woman drying off in the sun when we arrived. The restaurants and kiosk along the beach were all closed for the season (many people were enjoying the picnic tables on a sunny, fall day), but I can imagine this place would be full of life in the summer. We didn’t venture to the beaches further south, but that is where you’d find the huge nightclubs which are open all night long during summer.
While I was a bit run down and cranky during my time in Odesa, there were several highlights of our time there. I had one of my favorite meals during our trips – no, I am not talking about our mini-meal at McDonald’s – we were running late for the opera, don’t judge. It was a simple meal of chicken noodle soup, grilled vegetables with feta (which I am still dreaming about!) and a glass of wine, but it was just what the doctor ordered. Odesa was also the site of my first, and probably only, Eastern European haircut (not that it was a bad experience). At a price tag of $20 – compared to $100+ in Trondheim – it was worth it to cross my fingers and hope for the the best as Yegor attempted to translate what I wanted done with my hair. A big thanks to him for for helping facilitate a successful haircut and for subjecting himself to the snickers within the salon as women walked in and realized what was going on!
We boarded our last night train back to Kiev and spent our last day in Ukraine doing a whole lot of nothing, which was just fine by me. I headed back to Norway with a full belly, a new stamp in my passport, and many good experiences to look back on. You can’t ask for more out of a week of travelling!
More pictures from our time in Odesa here.