Odessa, Ukraine


Odessa—what Paris would look like if it was on the Black Sea.  A beautiful city, wide tree lined streets, classy boutiques and sidewalk cafes with real tables and chairs, not the plastic junk you too often see.

You can tell Odessa is a prosperous place by the autos—not a Lada or Yugo or Trabant in sight, but plenty of Mercedes, Range Rovers, BMWs, a Rolls Royce, two Lincoln stretch limos and an enormous  older bright red Cadillac Eldorado convertible.

The women in this country tend to wear dresses more than pants, and the passing parade is tres chic. The (very) warm weather brings out the shortest skirts, too.

Gail and I didn’t take a tour in Odessa, just the Crystal shuttle into the center of town.  Walking around, I noticed that each building seems to be responsible for the sidewalk in front, and they were almost competing to have the best marble and finest designs.  We headed off to find a museum that was on the map, but it was either closed or moved or just not marked so we wandered around gawking instead.

The Ukrainian language is written with Cyrillic characters, which are based on the Greek alphabet, so it isn’t readily apparent where you are or what anything says.  With a little work, you can figure some things out. The Greek delta  Δ is a D.  Phi  Φ is an F. Pi  Π is a P. Rho, which looks like a P, is really an R. Their C is pronounced “s”.  The tricky one is H, Greek Eta , which is really an “n”.  Consequently,  PECTOPAH is really restaurant—for someone who likes puzzles this is kind of fun.

We ate lunch al fresco at a PECTOPAH on the sidewalk.  Nothing fancy—we were at Zara Pizzeria, which sounded enough like my name that I couldn’t resist.  The food was nothing fancy, or great, but we enjoyed the people and car watching.  They offered free wi=fi, so I was able to connect my phone and play some of my word games that I can’t on the ship.

Feeling kind of lazy as this trip winds down, we took the shuttle back in time to catch the afternoon movie, The Last Station. Helen Mirren is always excellent, even if I did think her character was an incredible drama queen.

Dinner was slightly strange—our regular tablemates were off at the Italian restaurant, and we had dinner with two “floaters” who sit at a different table every night.  We had met them before and expected a pleasant dinner, when the woman got off on the subject of her controlling 85=year old mother.  Thirty minutes later, I was ready to hang myself as the story droned on.  Maybe that’s why they are floaters.

After we escaped, we went to the movies again. The evening entertainment was It’s Complicated. Anything with Meryl Streep and Steve Martin has to be good, and so it was, although one can hardly believe that Meryl couldn’t get a date in 5 years.

Today is at sea, as we head back to Istanbul to wind this excursion up.  The big challenge match is this afternoon—Micky and Linda are playing together; Gail and I are planning on beating them.  I’ll let you know tomorrow.

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