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Established in 1794 by Catherine  the Great having previously being controlled by the Lithuanians and then the Ottamans. Home to 135 different ethnic tribes and nationalities. It was until the late 1870’s also home to the 3rd biggest Jewish population after New York and Warsaw. It’s stunning (but decaying) architecture is a mix of Italian and French influence and today the city has a population of just over 1 million people. During WWII Odesa was home  to one of the worlds great snipers. Lyudmila Pavlichenko who had 187 confirmed kills to HER name. Liza Minelli’s Mother is from Odesa and Sylvester Stallones grandparents. 1 GBP will get you approx 33 UAH. A coffee costs 75 UAH and a bus ticket to Kiev some 295 miles north (473 km) costs you 300 UAH.

‘Impossible to find its name ‘ Church. Stunning domes nonetheless.

Ukrainian wedding car with attitude.

Air BnB accommodation comes in all styles.

What happens when a wealthy Russian buys a property with plans to turn it into a hotel and then comes along the 2014 revolution.

A novel way by the Odesa town council to stop lovers from weighing down the local bridge  with padlocks. Get an artist to come up with an idea and place it at one end of the bridge 

The ubiquitous Odesa coffee van. There’s one seemingly on every corner in downtown Odesa.

In the words of Australian comedian Rodney Rude. “You know what I hate”. I hate it when you go to a foreign supermarket and have no idea what Cyrillic is for “milk”. You buy a container containing what looks like milk cos you figure the Cat on the front must surely allude to it being milk. You go home and the next morning pour it gleefully in bulk onto your muesli only to discover it is in fact very sour tasting liquid yogurt. Yup, I hate that!

Life has taught me that Doner Kebabs should only legally be eaten after you’ve drunk your weight in beer. So I can categorically state that this was the best doner kebab I have ever eaten. Sober. Sort of helps that Istanbul is just down the coast.

Interestingly there were 4 Turks and 5 Indians inside and one of them (Indian who spoke impeccable Russian and English) assisted me in purchasing my kebab. Transpires he and his mates are 5 years into a 6 year medical degree to become doctors and are studying at the Odesa Medical Institue. Once done they’ll be back to Gujarat. 

In 2013 there were 184 crusies that parked up at the Odesa International sea terminal. So far this year ? Just 4. That’s what a bit of political unrest can do to the livelihoods of many (including my guide) who were  dependant on that income.

Since 2014, benchmarked against the USD, salaries have halved, the cost of basic goods has risen by 300% and cost of services and utilities by 600%. That’s another side effect of a bit of political unrest.

Busking solo in a biting Black Sea wind on a cold Odesa autumns day.

Upside is that your backdrop is pretty impressive.

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