Our last night out in Odesa, a Tuesday, was the quietest yet – though for Peder it was his favorite. Personally I didn’t have quite as much fun, but that was mainly due to yet another encounter with some very “dubious characters.”
We started by grabbing dinner and drinks at a streetside stall right at the entrance to the Arcadia walking area – the same stall where the Nerdy Pimp had tried to get us to buy pizza for his girls a few nights prior. Then as we migrated towards the clubs, we happened to overhear a large group speaking perfect English. Now that’s unusual! As it turned out, they were an international collection of students on some U.N.-related mission in Moldova, visiting for just a quick holiday across the border. We joined their table for a bit more prepartying before once again finding our way into Club Western – by invitation of a couple pedestrians we encountered while strolling about.
Ah well, looks like we won’t end up getting to see the famous Ibiza or Itaca after all 😛
It was here in Club Western that I met the dubious characters who, I guess you might say “ruined” my night.
I’m not even quite sure how we first came into contact – I think they approached Peder and I – but we ended up drinking with a group composed of one girl and two guys. The girl made it quite clear that she was with the baldheaded guy, but grew inexplicably clingy as the night wore on, jumping into our arms for photos and following us wherever we went. At the start it just seemed like the usual fun and games; “lend me your bunny ears, borrow my glasses, let’s take a photo, blah blah.” Her and her friends all seemed innocent enough.
But eventually I started to notice that, even if I tried, I somehow couldn’t seem to escape their attention – a phenomenon that became even more pronounced when Peder split off and migrated upstairs on his own. Literally whenever I strayed away, whenever I spoke to someone else, one of them – usually the girl – would run over and jump in. “Camera! Camera!” she’d say, revealing more and more skin for every photo. It was extremely curious behavior considering the guy she was “with” was constantly lurking in the background.
Then at one point she grabbed me by the arm and started dragging me outside – and towards the dark, empty park next door. “Let’s do shots and then go swimming!” she said. As always, the two guys shadowed in the distance.
Well, after having just been warned about foreigners getting beaten senseless by troublemaking mafia in dark corners of Arcadia, I was not interested in taking that chance – there was literally nobody in sight, except for the three Dubious Characters.
So with the girl still pulling the opposite direction, I tugged my way back into the club. Once again, the guys pursued.
Inside, their tactic seemed to shift towards drink-purchase ripoffs; they’d order a round of shots for everyone – handing me an unrequested glass – and guess who got the bill? Thankfully Peder had made friends with one of the bartenders, and upon hearing their inflated price was able to go over their heads and pay the correct amount directly. Drinks were cheap anyway, and I didn’t get taken in by that one again.
Still, it got to be intolerably obnoxious – I simply couldn’t escape them. At one point I even asked Peder to accompany me to the bathroom so I could tell him in private about the girl’s attempt to remove me from the club – but before I could, she burst into the men’s room and once again started demanding photos.
Things continued pretty much like this until the club ended and people started heading home. Luckily the Dubious Character Group gave far less resistance to my one last refusal to join them (her) for a swim in the sea – and left me alone for the first time in hours.
Peder’s thoughts on the whole encounter was that they weren’t necessarily dangerous, probably just a group out to milk some free drinks off of rich foreigners – but the thing about the girl dragging me outside against my will was just a bit too weird. Especially after she’d made it very clear that she was with the bald guy in the first place, and I’d just spent the last hour trying to get away from her. The guys, too, never seemed to let me out of their sight, though their approach was far more passive then hers.
Weird, but whatever. At least I made it home in one piece.
And after one final stop at our favorite little corner market to say goodbye to the fabulously sweet (and toothless) old ladies who owned it, we went to bed at Hotel Zirka for the last time.
One week in Odesa behind us, it was time to start making our way North towards the capital.