Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Odessa!!!!

Although I still have about two and a half weeks left in Kyiv, my pre-departure sadness is really starting to set in. I have a routine here that is really comfortable and I really don't feel like I'm just visiting the city, but moreso like I am truly living here. I have gained a lot of the experience necessary to actually live here in Kyiv and take care of myself, so it's very easy to imagine just staying. But enough on that subject for now because it makes me too sad to think about it.
For now I'll get back to the usual update of my most recent adventures, of which there have been many! Last week Nastia, Mario, and I went to the zoo on wednesday and saw of the lovely little critters. It was really a cute little zoo, but unfortunately the monkeys and penguins were nowhere to be found and the elephant and hippo had both recently died. We also had the chance to ride the ferris wheel at the zoo and see a really nice view of the city. It may seem silly, but I will never get pass up the chance to see a nice view of a city or countryside, even if i have seen that same place a dozen times. Perhaps I am easily fascinated :)
On Thursday, my friend from school, Karolina, and I met up with some friends for a little pre-Odessa trip hangout. We went to a bar/pub called Route 66 that was your typical American, rock music playing bar, picked up and dropped in the center of Kyiv. The band's playlist consisted of the most classic hits of classic rock, and I must say I was impressed with their lack of accent when they sang even though they were definitely Ukrainians.  We ended up staying out pretty late, but it was time well spent getting a little better acquainted and making sure we were all on the same page with the trip details.
Friday I could hardly contain my excitement as I dreamt about the sunshine, sea, and beautiful beach awaiting us in Odessa. After lunch with friends and a short bit at home getting the rest of my things together it was off to Olympeskaya metro station to meet up with the gang. A little after five we started our journey. With the windows down and music blasting, we had completed the nearly 500 kilometer drive to the beautiful city on the Black Sea by a little after 11pm(no thanks to the lovely rush hour traffic leaving Kyiv). We had an interesting run in wih some Ukrainian authorities, not even five kilometers from our hotel. There was apparently some incomprehensible street sign forbidding some type of traffic manuever and the police officers were so kind as to be waiting right there to pull over any unsuspecting tourist, unfamiliar with this strange signage. Of course, the national solution to problems in Ukraine is to pay a bribe, so after several minutes of discussion Kostya was able to pay them off for only 50 UAH. Nothing like a little "welcome to Odessa" encounter with the local police. Once we got to our hotel we went through all of the standard procedure documentaion verification and check in during which the woman working at the desk couldnt find my Ukraine entrance stamp and eventually asked (although it doesnt translate perfectly) essentially "how did you end up in ukraine? Do you even know?" I couldn't help but laugh at that a little, especially since the phrase she used literally means to "fall" into Ukraine. The hotel was nothing special, but we were only there to shower and catch a few hours of sleep and for only 70 USD total for three nights in one of the most touristy cities Ukraine has to offer, I was happy to have a comfortable bed, decent shower, no bugs, a fridge to keep some groceries, and a friendly hotel staff. Of course, no air conditioning when it's 33 degrees outside is always fun, but we survived. While most people may have gone to sleep of settled for a night of relaxing after arriving somewhere at 11pm, our lively group opted for a night a techno beats at Odessa's most popular nightclub Itaka. The first night out we of course had to dress to impress, so Karolina and I set out with the guys in our high heels and dresses. I really liked the energetic party scene at the club and even after a long day of school and traveling Karolina and I lasted until about 4:30am. The club was interesting because it was all open air with two seperate parties-one upstairs and one on a lower level near the beach. The party upstairs was definitely my preferance though because the music was more what I want to hear in a club.
Saturday morning called for a bit of sleeping in and then a quick lunch before heading to Itaka beach to soak up some sun. On the way to the beach I needed to by a towel and ended up with a big bright pink Hello Kitty towel that I was probably much more excited about than a 19 year old girl should be haha It's super cute though and good quality and Chelsea Skovran-I was definitely thinking of you when I bought it! :D All day Saturday I felt so incredibly relaxed just laying on the beach, chatting with Karolina and the guys, and swimming in the sea. Once evening started to set in the guys played some volleyball and karolina and I took a little walk around the Arcadia area. When the guys went to eat a little dinner us girls went back to the hotel to shower and ended up falling asleep for about an hour. It was a great power nap and probably the only reason I surivided the night in the club. Saturday was definitely the biggest party night. Some friends of the guys who were originally going to go on a fishing trip ended up coming to Odessa Saturday, so we had a big group at the club that night. Twice Saturday night the power went out in the club, but it was actually nice to have an excuse to rest my legs for a few minutes while they got things back in operation. Somehow I managed to have the energy to stay at the club until almost 6am and Kostya and I walked home with the Sunday morning sun shining. Surprisingly, I only slept about four hours before getting up to shower and prepare for another great day on the beach. Kostya had told me that they hoped to get to the beach around noon, so when it was nearly one and I had already been to their room and called them a couple of timea, Karolina and I were certain that they had already made their way to the beach, thinking that we were having our beauty sleep. In the end we just headed to the beach and they caught up with us after a short bit. Sunday we were at the beach an hour earlier, but time went by a lot quicker. After the beach we got ready for a third and final night in the club, which Karolina and I decided to go a little more casual(aka i skipped out on the massively talll high heels). This ended up being a good decision because after eating a little something with Kostya and Vova we took a walk through the central area of Odessa to the port and enjoyed a nice night in the city. We werw going to try to get to the club before midnight because girls get in free before midnight on Sundays, but when we got there at 11:45 a band was playing that we didnt feel like paying the cover to listen to and decided to just walk along the sea a bit more. When we eventually returned to the club it was obvious that the crowd was a bit smaller, but I was there to dance and have fun, so really I didnt mind. I have to say, I really like the way people dance in clubs here. It's so happy and energetic. Perhaps thanks to the fact that it's techno music being played, but unlike at far too many dance parties in the states, no one here is "grinding" or generally dirty dancing. Of course, many guys are still trying to find a girl to dance with, but the atmosphere felt very different to me in a good way. During the three nights there was only one incident I saw of a fight being broken up, but the security took care of it quickly. Sunday night in the club was again until about 4:30am, when Kostya and I walked back to the hotel together. Monday we had to be out of the hotel by noon, so we dropped anything we didnt need for the beach in the car and went to enjoy our final afternoon of sand, sea, and sun. The water temperature and weather was so perfect
that it was hard to say goodbye to Odessa.  The trip home took slightly less time than the trip there and in about five hours we were back in Kyiv. The roads between Kyiv and Odessa are, by comparison, some of the best in Ukraine, but there were still several parts that werw bad enough to make anyone a bit car sick.  In general though, the trip went by quickly as we blasted Kostya's CD again and enjoyed the relative cool temperature of traveling at night(because there was no air conditioner, traveling during the day just wouldnt have worked). By midnight or so I was back in the apartment. This long weekend in Odessa was such an incredicly happy, relaxing, spontaneous, fun trip that I am so thankful to the guys for inviting us to join them on. Nothing like vacationing with real Ukrainians :D
I'm so thankful for the awesome people that I have been able to meet and become friends with this summer and for the unforgettable memories that are being made. I'll definitely be finding my way back to Ukraine someday!
Всего хорошего!

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