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Chisinau - Odesa (Ukraine)

Before any spelling pedants out there start tutt-tutting my spelling you might be surprised as me. It is Odesa with one S not two.

The buses keep on getting smaller. After telling a non licensed Chişinău taxi driver his mother would be ashamed of his piracy I arrived at Chişinău’s bus terminal for what I had been told was a 5 hour bus ride to Odesa. It was in fact only 3 hours of driving and the now what seems regulatory hour at the combined borders.

This bus was a Mercedes Sprint van that sat 21 of us. Looking around the bus terminal it appeared that Mercedes vans were the people mover of choice in this part of the world. I counted 47 of them and two Toyota’s. 

My van didn’t  have wi-if but it did have a TV screen that showed several episodes of a TV show called “Kitchen”. Or in Cyrillic- KXYHR. Research tells me it’s into its 6th season and so far had 120 episodes. The Russian speaking audience in the bus seemed to enjoy its humour.

Heading South East along the R30 from Chişinău to the Moldovan / Ukraine border.

I would like to say the view was better than this. It wasn’t . Dour looking countryside and grey skies combined with a condensed window made for 4 hours of tedium.

At least I had the comfort of a Podcast or two. “Here’s The Thing” is hosted by Alec Baldwin and is of similar format to Desert Island Discs. Download it and listen as he interviews all manner of people. Today I had for company Mickey Rourke (tormented) , Thelma Schoonmaker (editor to almost all of Martin Scorsese’s films and a seemingly delightful woman), ‘Vogues’ Grace Coddington ( needs to stop putting Anna Winatour on a pedestal) and Starbucks Howard Shultz (comes across as an egotistical narcissist).

They don’t mess about at the Ukrainian border. To this point of the trip most border posts have being manned by overweight disinterested border police wearing ill fitting uniforms and probably smoking.The Ukrainians on the other hand all carry automatic weapons, are decked out smartly in army fatigues, are all over 6ft and built like walking concrete bunkers with a look on their face that suggests humour is not a personality trait common to their genetic build. I didn’t even think once about taking a photo of the border.

Odesa bus terminal. Back to the land of Cyrillic alaphabets. Thankfully this time it comes with English subtitles underneath.

Not sure the designers of the Lada had this in mind for it. But probably one of its better uses. Florist stand.

Ukrainian wedding car bling

Odesa’s Potemkin Steps . 192 of them leading from the town centre to the Black Sea. Supposedly a person looking down only sees the landings that occur every 20 or so steps whereas a person looking up sees only the steps. Must’ve slipped me by. 

Couldn’t cope with walking up them? Take what must be possibly the worlds smallest funicular cabin ride up the ‘hill’.

Post walk around I went to dinner . First restaurant I have ever been to where I was frisked at the door for guns by two men who look like they eat barbed wire for fun. This wasn’t some 5 star celebrity hangout either. It was a run of the mill, stock standard, local steak house.

Welcome to the Ukraine Nickolai.

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