This post is dedicated to one of my favorite cities in the world, to Odessa, Ukraine. I’ve lived just 15 km from Odessa all my life, but I still don’t know so many things about native Odessa people, Odessa humor, history and the city itself.
After one year of absence I’ve come to my motherland for 2 week vacation. It have been very busy times. I haven’t been so many month in Ukraine and I was going to go away for one year more.
I wanted to see all my friends and family, and I did almost everything I’ve planned. It has been weird feeling to be at home again. I was so happy to see all my friends, but living in Denmark changed me without my knowing even. I used to have a lot of free time, to plan weekends month ahead, so it was strange to see how my friends are rushing somewhere and don’t know what they will do tomorrow. It was even strange to see sun all the time!
Also I was busy with my guests, they are couchsurfers as well, but we became friends before I hosted them.
They are dear friends for me, so I would like to write several words about our time in Ukraine.
The first guest who I hosted at my place became Hans Kristian, I know him for one year already, he was the first couchsurfer whom I met in Aarhus, and we still keep in touch. He has a fantastic sense of humor, so it always nice to meet him, and one of the most interesting things in his personality is his love for travelling. He is 34 years old, and has visited 57 countries. Once he told me that there is some special travelling club and you can be member only if the number of countries you’ve visited is not less than your age. I’ve visited just 20 countries, so, unfortunately cannot be member. But now when I am thinking about next vacation, on the top is the country where I haven’t been before.
Hans still had one week of vacation, so he asked if he can visit Ukraine. I love so much to guide people in Odessa, so I agreed to host him, and since Hans is crazy about travelling so he decided to see Moldova as well.
He arrived to Kishinev for one day and he was hosted by German couchsurfer who studies medicine in Moldova. In Ukraine a lot of people work from this country, so I was not surprise to hear that everyone wants to leave country, but I was sad to hear that he didn’t see any smiling person at the streets. I think this is an Ukrainian problem as well, we can smile to friends and laugh, but to strangers we can be impolite. All Ukrainians who travel complain about this all the time. But I think it is becoming better, everything is changing.
Hans was in Odessa for 4 days, I showed him main sightseeings, like Odessa seaport, The Potemkin Stairs, statue to Duke de Richelieu etc, we went to opera house to see “La Boheme” (the sad final really touched me), the next day Hans wanted to go to Odessa Philharmonic Theatre, but we were not sure about the program, I checked their website, it said that it would be some concert of professor, his students and friends. I like architecture of this building, and the tickets were very cheap so we just decided to go. And what waited for me it was 2 -hour accordion concert. The first hour was so boring, the music was very loud and grim, I really don’t like this instrument. But Hans was clapping a lot, and I didn’t know other he tried not to fall asleep, or this weird Dane just like such music. The second hour I enjoyed much more, it was accordion, but firstly with Russian musical instruments (like balalaika), and then with piano, violin, then it was even vocal of a very beautiful singer and in the end it was dance performance. As Hans told me afterwards this concert is now the best memory from Odessa trip, he plays music himself, but he never knew that accordion can play classical music. So it was something totally new for him.
I think for you it would be interesting to hear this music as well. After watching these videos I understood that actually the concert was very nice. The name of the artist is Vladimir Murza (Владимир Мурза), he is teaching for 25 years already.
While Hans was still in Odessa my Austrian friends arrived. I know Lili since 2008 when we both lived in a Belgian town Tervuren and attended French lessons, language we didn’t learn but became good friends, Lili is one of the kindest person I’ve ever met, so gentle and caring for other people. In 2009 she visited me in Ukraine, we went for camping to Crimea (great experience, staying on top of the mountain one day and the next day going to the seaside, seeing rainbow across the sea after rain, fantastic memories, great sights and good company), in 2011 she invited me to Austria, where I met her boyfriend Kondrad. They are fantastic couple, there is so much love between them! They organized me so great journey, couple of days we stayed in Vienna, then drived to Alpes and afterwards one of my dreams – trip to Venice- came true!
At that time they had idea, they wanted to go for one year trip by bicycles to Asia. Every year they were cycling in Europe, for practice and saved money. I didn’t know how to ride bicycle at that time, I’ve always lived in the city, no need for such transport and I was always afraid of Ukrainian drivers. But somehow we got idea that I will cycle with them from Odessa to Crimea, it is about 700 km. Several weeks after I came back to Ukraine, I started to cycle, and I am very grateful Lili and Kondrad for this motivation. To live nowadays in Denmark and not to cycle seems just impossible now!
Anyway, you never can predict what will happen in your life, I started to live in Denmark ,but we counted the weeks when Kondrad and Lili would be in Ukraine, so I came for vacation on the right weeks.
They started from Vienna in March and in the middle of April they came to Ukraine. And when I met them after 2 years it was great feeling, they are in love, they are happy, they are working on the biggest project of their lives.
They have their blog, I think it would be interesting for you to know about their trip, now they have to be in Yalta, Ukraine, and next destination is Turkey. http://backtotheroads.wordpress.com/
The last day of Hans’ staying in Odessa we spend all together, and it was very nice, one of my best friends, Ksenia, showed us Odessa, that I didn’t know about. Real city, specific squares, hundred years old metal stairs from former Odessa factory, poor families who live in old houses. It was discovery for me and my friends.
Then we said goodbye to Hans who departured to Kiev. With Lili and Kondrad I spend another week. It was very busy time for me, I needed to do so much, I was trying to meet my friends in the mornings and then to be able to spend the rest of the day with my guests. They already felt like at home at my place, when I came back on the table there were pancakes (my foreign guests bought themselves sugar and milk in the shop, since in Ukraine not so much people speak English, for me it was a prove that they can travel for one year without problems).
While their stay in Odessa Kondrad had a birthday, so we celebrated it, they cooked amazing food, several delicious cakes, pizza (during orthodox fasting I didn’t eat meat, so they were kind to prepare vegetarian pizza). We also spend a lot of time with Nadya, another good friend of mine. Nadya has a very interesting personality, her main hobbies are historical role motion, crossbow shooting (what we try with Lili and Kondrad one day), Slavic history, camping in Crimea and Carpathians (this is how we became friends, after mine and Lili’s camping with her in 2009).
The rest of that day I spent with my family, and then it was return to Denmark. I can say that I really missed it, I will stay here for another year and I really appreciate all the free time I have for myself and for my hobbies. I can say that thanks to Denmark I understood that I live now, and if I want to be a journalist I have to start immediately, try to make interviews in English, and not to wait return to home. And this is what I did. And in less then one month of opening my blog, I have to say that I changed for the better, I have new ideas, new goals.
I think what I am trying to say, don’t wait for tomorrow, tomorrow always the best day for changing yourself. Start this exact second, use this moment for the developing yourself, don’t allow yourself to live boring life. Somewhere deep inside you know your destiny and dream, just start working on it, do small steps, but do it, and in some time you will laugh, it would look so easy for you. You deserve to be happy and to have the best in your life. But first you have to believe in it yourself.
P.S. Special thanks to all my friends and family, one year changes people, but the distance didn’t change our interest to each other, especially I am grateful to my best friend Ksenia, despite of different countries, time zones, jobs, life situations, we still calling to each other, make ourselves a cup of tea and through the webcamera have talks like in the old times. Thank you for our 10-years friendship!