After organizing a press trip to Chernobyl and waiting for the Government to sort out my permits I had a few days to burn. Kiev was cool but I was getting weary from all that city life, so I made a beeline towards the Black Sea coast in the south of Ukraine, Odessa was beckoning me.
Odessa is to Ukraine was Phuket is to Thailand, it’s a tourist destination with seemingly ever eastern European nation flocking their in the summer seasons. It was late May though so I had made it there before the hordes arrived.
When people come to Odessa they come primarily for the beaches or the booze or both. The city itself is pretty beautiful although in terms of actual tourist sights, it’s slim pickings. However make sure you check out the top 3 things to see in Odessa:
The main drag in town is a great way to saunter through an afternoon (which in my world means staring uncomfortably long at beautiful women). The street dissects the centre of the old town and is lined with quaint cafes and bars, so grab a coffee and watch the world go past.
Prymorsky bulvar and the Town Hall:
A shady promenade leading up to the Potemkin Steps, just around the corner from the theatre. In the heat of the summer, the trees offer some welcome shade, icecream vendors aplenty are there to help ease the pain too. The Town Hall sits proudly on the southern end of the walkway.
Opera and Ballet Theatre:
Claiming to be ‘The Most Beautiful Opera House in the World’, the building is pretty special, although I think the folk in Sydney, Australia may dispute Odessa’s claim. Nonetheless, if you’re lucky with the timing then you can pick up pretty cheap tickets here, starting around $10.
Odessa’s iconic steps are a little overrated if you ask me, but there is something pretty cool about them. There are 192 steps, and the views is nothing special, however from the bottom, looking up, it seems much higher thanks to a cheeky architect designing the stares to narrow as they ascend with 21m at the bottom and 13m at the top, making it look like it stretches on forever.
If you’ve come for the beach, or the booze, it won’t be long until you find yourself at Arkadia (tram 5, 5km from the city). The beach is nothing to write home about, especially considering I live in Thailand (doesn’t even begin to compare), but the water is still wet and blue so it does a job,
If you’re looking to party, this is the spot with beach parties kicking off late into the night. Ibiza beach bar is the spot to hit it hard.
15km outside the city over 2000km of limestone catacombs lie. This was the coolest, most interesting and most cultured part of my trip and an absolute must-see. I’ll give some more info on it tomorrow.
Ok, that’s Odessa in a nutshell. Worth a visit when you’re in Ukraine, especially if you wanna get on the booze and go a little crazy (note: don’t go to crazy, I was arrested twice in one night, and after lengthy negotiations, got away with two bribes, phew! More of that in the next blog post). Happy travels!