Odesa through foreign tourists' eyes

Author : Petra Procházková

Source : 112 Ukraine

Petra Procházková, reporter of Lidove noviny, has visited Ukraine. Find out her observations and comments from Ukraine
09:19, 3 August 2017

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When travelling in Odessa, it is better to use Uber instead of an ordinary cab. As soon as we got off the train at the station, crowds of sweaty men with big bellies rushed at us, shouting: "Beach, coast, hotel, accommodation, we are here for you every day!" They wanted 900 hryvnia, which is about a thousand crowns, for bringing seven people to a distance of four kilometers. "Hmm," I said and went to the tram for three hryvnia.

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"Uber? They are bastards, - disgustedly one taxi driver said to me. – We do not need these American innovations here. You think they do not steal from their customers? But they steal from us, decent taxi drivers, who carry customers at constant prices!" I object, saying that the fixed price of 900 hryvnia for four kilometers seems to me a little unreasonable. Officially, taxi services take for this distance 50 hryvnia. "But people here also want to survive somehow. For example, someone has little children and sick parents. People want to have a car and live like you do, because I see that you are foreigners!" he replies. Thank you for frankness, dear Odesa taxi drivers.

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Sunday, 30.7

Park colonnades above the famous Odessa beaches, which are teeming with tourists, are full of various dodgers who are trying in every way to rob the guests of the largest port in Ukraine.

Here you can meet a drunken couple of young people who wander near empty beer bottles and pretend that someone else has left them.

"Those who put down all the bottles with one throw of the ball will win a bottle of wine," the girl shouts, holding a bottle of cheap white wine over her head. A young man plays with a ball and attracts passers-by.

Is it corny? By no means. It is amazing how many fathers of families persuade wives to stop for a minute on the way from the beach and try. Of course, unsuccessfully. They pay 20 hryvnia and go away.

Then they see a battered plaque attached to a strange construction resembling a gallows. "Is you hang here three minutes, you will win 500 hryvnia." "Mom, let's go, let’s try, come on..." Mom goes and tries. After a few seconds, she falls like a pear into her husband's hands. They pay 35 hryvnia (about 30 kroons) and go further, pleased that entertainment was inexpensive.

Saturday 29.07, 15.00

"Previously, we did not have an army, and now we have at least something," says Serhiy wisely. He sells computers. Serhiy was born in Odesa. He is Ukrainian, who speaks Russian from his very childhood (he has switched to Ukrainian to be in a trend); he adores the navy. Recently, he received great pleasure, watching the Ukrainian-American exercises in Odesa. Foreigners have shown a lot here: Airbus A400 Atlas, frigate F241 Turgutreis, a lot of divers, submarine F241 Turgutreis, cruiser CG66 Hue City ...

Ukrainians has only recently recovered from Russian blow of March 2014. March 22, the flags of the Ukrainian fleet were replaced with Russian flags (on 54 of the 67 warships that belonged to Ukraine). Now they no longer belong to it. Ukrainians have lost the only submarine "Zaporizhia". "The only thing the command of our flotilla was chatter: they called:" Hold on, glory to Ukraine," and the sailors meanwhile skipped to the Russian side. Together with the ships," Serhiy recalled sadly, pointing at what was left of the Ukrainian flotilla. "But I know that it will be reborn," he whispers.

Related: Ukrainian tourists receiving treatment after road accident in Turkey

Saturday, 29 July, 9.00

The scam around the Czech visas is allegedly continuing. In spite of the fact that a month ago the EU started letting Ukrainians into its territory for tourism without visas, those who want to stay for a long time or work need to go through the humiliating procedure of collecting various permits, documents and confirmations, to be patient and, most importantly, in order to pay all fees, bribes and commissions.

First of all, you have to pay the firms that will give you the opportunity to just stand in an endless queue at the Czech consulate. Here in Odesa, at every corner you can find an offer of obtaining a visa at the Czech consulate.

Friday, 28 July, 9.00 am

"That is the way it has been here since 2014. Trains from Russia used to come here every day. A crowdy place. As a rule, buses were waiting for them and they drove farther to Europe, and then they went back. When they waited, things were handed to the storage room. Now everything turned into an old story."

A small man with a badly shaven face in an orange railway station form looks very sad. According to him, earlier Chop (Zakarpattia region) was a crossroads of two worlds. Here Russian, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Slovak, and other peoples converged. Trade and tourism were developing here, different languages could be heard here. Since the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Chop is a very quiet place. One station is almost abandoned.

"The Russians will not return here, even if the war is over," states the head of the storage room, where only we, a group of Czech travelers, brought the things over the past month. Patriotism does not overflow this man. We are in the south-west of Ukraine, and here Ukrainian patriotism - if not to say nationalism – is something rare.

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