Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The 16-Hour Trip In Odesa

After the 8-hour train ride from Lviv, I arrived in Kiev at 06:35 a.m. and reached home at 8 a.m. Mas Haris was already on the dining table, having pancake for breakfast, and looked so relieved to see me in one piece. Well, if something happened to me, he would have to explain things to Amr and her mother :P.

"Hey, how's Lviv?" he asked, casually.
"It's beautiful. Oh, I met these nice Russians and they gave me a fridge magnet from Odesa. What do you think about Odesa?"
"Oh, it's a port city. A bit different from Kiev and Lviv, but worth to visit."
"Is it okay if I go there?"
He almost got choked. "Yes, sure. You're not afraid going there on your own?"
"Nope. I'd do the same itinerary with Lviv. Take night train, explore the city by day, come back to Kiev at night."
"Okay. Odesa is a safe place for tourists. Just make sure you don't stay on the road after dark."

Having his permission, I quickly ran to Kiev Vokzalna Central Train Station and bought the tickets. This time I got a second class ticket for the Kiev-Odesa trip and a third class for the way back. The total price for the round trip tickets? About 225 UAH. The Kiev-Odesa train ride is 13 hours. In Indonesia, the 13-hour train ride can span between Jakarta-Surabaya and there is no way we can pay Rp 225,000 for one way ticket. 

It's a good thing I have limited days of leaves and have to come home soon. Otherwise, I would have spend my time (and money) taking trains across Ukraine :).

I left for Odesa on June 15, arrived there on June 16 morning, got back to Kiev on June 17 morning and flew back to Jakarta on the evening. I was so grateful nothing went wrong with the train, or I'd miss my flight. The train to Odesa departed at 4:59 p.m. This time I got the upper berth in second class wagon.

I got to Odesa at around 6:30 a.m. Odesa, or Odessa, is often called as The Pearl of the Black Sea and was founded in 1794 by Catherine the Great. We can take a ferry ride from Odesa to Istanbul (I was considering to do just that, but I had to go back to Kiev that night to catch my flight home).

Trivia Time: Did you know that there are eight cities in the U.S., two in Canada and one in Brazil that were named Odessa? There is also Lake Odessa in Michigan and Odessa the planet somewhere out there in the cosmos.

Odesa has a grid city plan, which works really great for people who have trouble to read maps *points to self*. It's like playing Pacman, go two blocks, turn left on the intersection, head three more blocks and you find the place!

The guide book says that Odesa has 290 days of sunshine. It's no surprise that when I came there, the weather was warm and the pictures I took had this wonderful blue sky as the backdrop. Just take a look at them :).
Odesa Vokzal 

The Potemkin Steps and I. Traveling solo doesn't mean you can't take a picture of yourself. You simply have to be more creative:)

Catherine the Great

Prymorsky Bulvar

Jakarta is not listed here. What a pity.

 The painter's block. I can totally relate.

 Wow. Look at the abs architecture oh well, both abs and architecture XD

Busy activity at the port

After the cranes move the goods from ships, trains will take the goods across Ukraine. Very efficient.

A funny thing happened when I went to Hotel Londonskaya on Prymorsky Bulvar. Lonely Planet says that the hotel has a museum showcasing photos and memorabilia of famous people staying there. The museum is on the third floor and admittance is free.

Being the budget traveler, I went there and asked the receptionist about the museum. She laughed. "It is not a museum, but just photo gallery," she said. Nevertheless, she asked Eugenly, a hotel officer, to accompany me to go to the third floor. Hahaha, so it seems we can't always trust a guide book. Travel is meant to be enjoyed, not be limited by guide books.

I decided to skip the beaches, because it was a very hot day. I was already born tanned, hence no need for sunbathing. So I explored the CBD, especially Derbayivska street :). Didn't buy anything though.

The trip back to Kiev was smooth. I was in the same cabin with a pair of lovebirds. They kissed all the time. It was just perfect *sarcastic mode on*.

My breakfast. Made me feel like Snow White.

Someone else's Prince Charming (Sleeping Gorgeous?) was sleeping on the upper berth. In case you're wondering, yes, he only wore his briefs.

I reached Kiev the next day at 11 a.m. Mas Haris came out of his room with sleepy face. 

"Hey, how's Odesa?"
"It's bright and sunny. I love it."
"So what's your plan today? Going somewhere?"
"Whoa. No. My flight will be at 9:20 p.m. tonight. I should take a rest before the 14-hour flight."

PS. I still have several more posts on Ukraine. I hope I haven't made you bored yet :).

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