Guest post by James
Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater by lentina_x, Creative Commons
I visited Odessa a few times during the winter of 2007. I was working on a container ship that would go there every 3 weeks or so. It became my favorite port on that run.
Odessa is located on the shores of the Black Sea. The city was founded in the 13th century and is now one of the largest cities in Ukraine. It is, and always has been, an important trade hub. Recently it has also become a popular tourist destination as well. With a long sandy beach and the capacity to dock cruise ships from the Black Sea.
Many cruises come to Odessa and the port is located within walking distance to the city, which is extremely handy. To get to the city from the port you simply need to walk up the famous Potemkin Stairs. These mark the official entry to the city from the sea and consist of 200 stairs decreasing in length as you get higher. This gives the impression that the staircase is far longer then it actually is. The stairs are named for the Potemkin Uprising in which mutineers were fired upon by the military. It is well worth walking to the top of these stairs, as to look back over the port is a beautiful and commanding view of the Black Sea.
Potemkin Stairs by Saskia Heijltjes, Creative Commons
When I first went exploring in Odessa I was not prepared for the sheer beauty of it as it is not a place that is viewed as a tourist destination back at home. It is incredibly beautiful with amazingly ornate buildings. The most impressive of these is the Odessa Opera Theatre. This is a very grand building and looks very Venetian. It has been completely gutted by fire and recently it has become apparent that some of the walls are sinking into the ground.
Deribasovskaya Street is a pedestrian street located in the heart of Odessa and flanked by beautiful old buildings on one side and a huge park on the other. There are great restaurants and bars along here and it is the perfect place to just stop, grab a cup of coffee and just people watch.
A street in Odessa by odessamax, Creative Commons
Odessa is built on a series of catacombs. These were originally stone mines and the city was built over them using the stone excavated from them. In Word War Two Soviet Partisans used the Catacombs as a hiding place as they conducted their gurilla warfare. The catacombs are only accessible from the Museum of Partisan Glory which is located to the North of Odessa.
Odessa is also home to the Privoz Market a huge food market that also sells many other seemingly random items. Hours can be spent wandering round this market and it is a great place to stock up if you plan to stay in Odessa for any length of time.
When you go to Odessa I strongly recommend that you go out to some of the nightclubs. They are huge and are a great place to go get a drink and dance the night away. Some of the best ones are Captain Morgan with 2 floors and open 22 hours a day (they close from 8am to 10am!) and Verchernaya Odessa. This club is very cool and has a cult status among many people who live in Odessa. It is also worth checking out one of the numerous bars around Odessa. There are far to many to list here but it should not be to hard to find a good one. The same rule can apply to restaurants. Odessa is a fantastic place to eat with places catering to all budgets.
I hope that in time to come many will realise the beauty of Odessa and Ukraine and it will continue its growth as a fantastic tourism spot.
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