The legs of heaven, the dregs of hell
Trip Start Jul 15, 2009
62Trip End Dec 21, 2009
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Where I stayed
As we were lying on our bags in the shade of an impressive looking quarter-circle of a building two minutes later, we decided that we will get a taxi back to the hostel. Our hostel turned out to be a ground floor apartment with two rooms, one was the kitchen and a dorm room combined – 4 bunks lining the sides, and our room a massive private double-room with air con, TV and a huge sofa
On initial examination, Odessa gave us a grim sight. Walking through the town, we saw a very run-down city, potholed streets and dusty boulevards, getting progressively worse as we approached the train station. Massive rubbish containers were overflowing and stank from miles off. People were walking around with beers in their hands and the girls... My dear sweet heaven, the girls. Never have I seen a city with so many beautiful girls, their legs perfect, long, graceful, in heels or flats, flip-flops, and each wearing the tiniest of shorts or skirt or dress, tanned to perfection. I heard that Russian women were beautiful, but this quickly took my attention from the streets and spent the rest of the afternoon staring at women instead.
We found out that there were trains leaving to Simferopol, in the Crimea, or Moscow, so we stood at some cross-roads, which we decided to postpone deciding on until tomorrow. We'll do some more research and then buy the tickets on the day. We got a meal in a restaurant, a couple of beers, and sat there reading Cyrillic words and deciphering letters... We had a feeling of doom – what did we get ourselves into? As inviting as the Arab world was, as open eyed and open minded, and open armed, accepting and friendly, the exact opposite awaited us in the Ukraine. Customer service was not in their dictionary... Service with a backhand, and a mocking laughter. Everywhere useful information, written in characters we could not read. Luckily, we had some wits about us, and set about figuring things out. We got some of our hope back when by the end of the evening, we got to a place where we could read half of their letters, with B's being V's and C's S's and so on
We then went home to sleep. It was the first time in a city for me, when I felt the need to remove the memory card from the camera and put it separately, and separate my cash from the cards, and hide my passport. That is how menacing the half-lit streets of Odessa seemed to us...
The next day we did a lot of research about the Crimea, what we can do there, how to get there, and we made the decision to get a night train to Simferapol, get on the world's longest trolleybus ride across the mountains down to Yalta, which looked like a pleasant enough seaside town on the black sea. We packed and rolled on down to the Vok'zal – Train station, catching a bus this time. Luckiily last night's research enabled us to have a few handy words ready, and I managed to decipher train station on the bus's cyrillic sign-post.
Sitting in the first class cabin of the train heading towards Simferopol watching I love you man, we summed up the day. It hasn't been too bad overall. We walked around town, going to the scenic parts of town too, which were certainly impressive, with their massive monuments and statues, impressive buildings and parks, walking streets and cafes. We stopped for a beer soon after buying our tickets. The tickets cost a little more than expected, but to Simferopol it was the only ones available. To Moscow, from Simferapol, we paid a 530 grivnas, around 30 pounds, and from Odessa to Simferopol, we paid 411 grivnas each.
The beers were good, and we sat around for about 3 hours, uploading pictures and doing research on Russian, writing out phrases and useful words we could need. We decided to print out a copy of the alphabet, with all their translations, and always have that in our wallets. We will survive for the next month.
The money we paid for first class seemed well spent as we slept like babies in our private cabin, arriving around mid-day to Simferopol train station, rested and ready for the 30 degrees in the shade.