Thursday, July 26, 2007

Odessa: Trouble, anyone?

It's hard to know where to begin to articulate the weekend Ariel & I had in Odessa, Ukraine...

It has the qualities of a Tarantino film, where the first scene shows sea of carnage, then everything goes hazy and you're taken back to the beginning to see how it all unfolded (and it still makes no sense).

[Scene 1: Odessa airport]: Two exhausted, hungover foreigners, trying to fathom exactly what happened over the last 48 hours. We've just received word that a friend of ours in Moscow has turned up after going missing for 36 hours after Friday night, except he thinks it's only Saturday. We can relate to how he feels, but the images (and the photos... oh yes, the photos) keep running through our addled minds...

This weekend, more than ever, the photos tell the story far better than words... The link to them is here, but even more than usual, parental or professional psychiatrical supervision should be exercised for anyone under the age of... well... pretty much anyone, really...

We coined a new phrase: "When in Ukraine, do as the Russians do", which pretty much guided our philosophy for the weekend, which included pumping nightlife, late-night swimming with mermaid-like nymphs, Russian karaoke, identically dressing sisters, a fire outside our hotel, extraordinary women ("what do you mean you're sponsoring me, you haven't even bought me a Mercedes"), a restaurant called "Assol", hulking Odessan thugs looking for a fight, nightclubs styled on Greek ruins, the list goes on...

Odessa is a beautiful town of approximately a million people on the shores of the Black Sea in southern Ukraine. It has a rich history dating from pre-Roman times, and its city centre is gorgeous, with classical architecture, fountains, a beautiful promenade, and lovely shady avenues. We spent approximately 15 minutes there.

About 20 mins south of the city centre is Arcadia Beach, with the most happening nightlife in the Ukraine (which is saying something). Right on a lovely beach is a stretch of happening nightclubs. Each follows a different theme, classical Greek ruins, a Mayan temple, Western/cowboy, a pirate ship, etc. Our favorites were Ibiza (resembling a whitewashed Flintstones version of an open-air anthill), and Itaka, a giant dancefloor presided over by faux-Greek ruins.

A chronological rundown simply doesn't work for this weekend, so here are some snapshots from what we can remember:

  • Late-night swimming with half-naked swinging girls, ginormous scary babushki, random passed-out dudes and some reoccuring Belorussians;

  • The identically dressed sisters who took us on wild ride around Odessa, taking us to corners that even Odessans feared to tread, and were determined to bleed every last dollar out of us;

  • The rapid & violent response to Cam attempting to have a cultural and enlightened discussion with a young lady at a bar, only to be approached by a local thug & his posse, claiming that the aforementioned young lady was his wife and threatening a most unpleasant end to the trip. Thankfully after an Oscar-winning "No speakski Russki" performance by Cam, plus a dose of Aussie charm, the two became firm friends;
  • The karaoke bar which aforementioned sisters booked out to showcase their singing skills, resulting in entertainment and Cam's first karaoke in Russian (video available pending a 3-album deal) ;

  • Whiplash, sunburn, and hearing damage from spending a day at the beach club. The 40 degree heat, even hotter girls, sizzling mohitos, but sadly only lukewarm Brazilian music made for a memorable day;

  • The pirate-ship named restaurant/nightclub called Assol;

  • The fire and response by 50 year-old fire trucks (not to mention our new friend the ex-Soviet intelligence police officer), outside our hotel;

  • Being hit on by gay tourists from Kiev (first time I've heard "spasiba" with a lisp);

  • The Ukranian girls seemed to be even more narcissistic than Russians, with one dining companion repeatedly walking down the road to another cafĂ© to use the bathroom, as it had a larger mirror;

  • While the antics of the previous 36 hours weren't enough to earn us as much as a warning, the hotel was quick to boot us out with KGB-like efficiency, practically breaking down our doors and heaving us into the street at checkout time.

A memorable weekend (if only we could remember it all)... Viva Odessa!

1 comment:

Thiruppathy Raja said...

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