Kathryn and Ken's European Vacation
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Day 27: Odessa, Ukraine
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Day 22: Athens, Greece
Day 23: Athens, Greece
Day 24: Cruise Begins
Day 25: Cruise at Sea
Day 26: Varna, Bulagaria
Day 27: Odessa, Ukraine
Day 28: Constanta, Romania




MS Rotterdam


Mostly sunny with a high of 23°C

Day 27: Sunday, October 1, 2006     Odessa, Ukraine

The Search for a Church

Currency:   Ukrainian hryvnya
Language:  Ukrainian

Odessa, "The Pearl of the Black Sea", is the fourth largest city in Ukraine.  The city is a major seaport on the Black Sea, the largest port in Ukraine.  From 1819–1858 Odessa was a free port. During the Soviet period it was the most important port of trade in the U.S.S.R. and a Soviet naval base. In 1991, after the collapse of Communism, the city became part of newly independent Ukraine. Today Odessa is a city of more than 1 million people. The city's industries include shipbuilding, oil refining, chemicals, metalworking and food processing. Odessa is also a Ukrainian naval base and home to a fishing fleet. It is also known for its huge outdoor market, the Seventh-Kilometer Market, the biggest market of the kind in Europe.

Our primary goal in Odessa was to find the Church of England were Kathryn's grandparents were married while her grandfather was working in Russian on building the railway.  Unfortunately it was a Sunday and most of the buildings were closed and, unlike the other ports of call, we couldn't find hardly anyone who spoke English.

Kathryn in front of the Port of Odessa

As we disembarked out the Port of Odessa, we could see the huge Kempinski Hotel Odessa right on the dock.  A local car dealership had taken over the plaza in front of the port and the cars on display drew hundreds of people, especially after church let out.

The Potemkin Steps is a giant stairway in Odessa, Ukraine. The stairs are considered a formal entrance into the city from the direction of the sea and are the best known symbol of Odessa. The stairs were originally known as the Boulevard steps, the Giant Staircase, or the Richelieu steps.  Apparently named after an incident involving the battleship Potemkin, in which the crew mutinied and came ashore at this spot, where a skirmish with troops loyal to the Czar took place.  A movie was also made based on this event, entitled "The Battleship Potemkin,' some of which was filmed on these steps, including the

Ken, in blue shirt, at the top of the Potemkin Steps

scene with a baby carriage bouncing down the steps during a battle (a scene that has been copied in other movies, including 'The Untouchables.') The staircase is 27 m high, and extends for 142 m, but it gives the illusion of greater length.  The stairs were so well designed that they create an optical illusion. A person looking down the stairs sees only the landings, and the steps are invisible, but a person looking up sees only steps, and the landings are invisible.  It took Ken a little while but we climbed all 192 steps to the top.

We set out to search of the Church of England but we only had a small map provided by the cruise ship.  It was not very good as it only showed every third or fourth street and all the street signs were written in the Ukrainian Cyrillic alphabet.  We did discover the Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater which was an awesome sight. After the Potemkin Stairs, it is the most famous edifice in Odessa.  Odessa residents boast that the Odessa Opera Theater is the second best opera theater in the world, next to the Vienna State Opera in Vienna.

Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater

We then walked up and back along Deribasovskaya Street, a pedestrian walkway that is the heart of the shopping district of Odessa- nearly every building is a café or restaurant, store or hotel -  trying to find the American Business Centre, which we had seen advertised on a poster.  We figured someone there might speak English.  We finally found it but it was closed until 12:00 pm, so we walked back down to the waterfront alongside Shevchenko Park.  We walked along the

seafront on Primoskaya Street, past the Port and then back up the hill.  We walked along some beautiful tree-lined streets and saw pretty pastel coloured buildings.  By now the stores had started to open.  We found a store which changed $5 US into 25 hryvnya for us.  We bought 10 Odessa postcards for 15 hryvnya to send to Kathryn's relatives .  By this time Kathryn had to go to the washroom.  We found a McDonald's but you couldn't get a code to open the washroom door unless you bought something.

Lovely tree-lined street in Odessa

We used our remaining 10 trivia to buy two Cokes and Kathryn received the code along with some change.  We walked back along Deribasovskaya Street to the American Business Center which was now open.  In addition to being a business centre, it specializes as a marriage agency which seems to be quite popular in Odessa.  The young girl in the office spoke English but knew nothing of the Church of England or where it might have been.  Unfortunately for Kathryn, we never did find the church.

As we made our way back toward the ship, we passed the Archaeological Museum, City Hall and the statue of Pushkin before arriving at Primorsky Boulevard, a shady seaside promenade with many historic landmarks and interesting monuments. Odessites sit here on the shady benches, enjoy the sea breeze, and gaze at the panorama of the bay.  A young girl was sitting on a curb playing the flute so we gave her our remaining Ukrainian change.  We ended up back at the Potemkin Steps and the street peddlers were out trying to sell us

Kathryn standing on Primorsky Blvd

anything and everything.  We walked back down the steps and got on the ships.  We went out to the deck but the clouds started to roll in so we decided to see a move, entitled "Akeela and the Bee" which we quite enjoyed.  That night at dinner the wait staff entertained us with magic tricks.  We went to the Queen's Lounge after dinner and listened to an excellent Polish violinist, Hanna Strosta.

Click here for a slide show of Day 27 photos.

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