My initial expectation for Odesa’s beach was that it’d be small and fairly mediocre – I’d heard that despite the city’s immense popularity among vacationers, the beaches themselves really are nothing to write home about. It’s more the people and the fun that’ve made Odesa so famous.
So imagine my surprise when we arrived Saturday
morning evening around 5pm to find a vast sandy stretch so packed that despite its size, there was scarcely a place to lay our towels. It felt like Suma in Japan – only bigger – and didn’t start thinning out until after 7, when the sun finally receded behind the hill.
I could get used to this.
After a quick dip in the water we freshened up and kicked off Saturday night with some leisurely drinks in a park, just past the end of the main clubbing promenade. It was quiet and fairly isolated, so we figured it’d be safe enough from the bribe-happy police – and a far more pleasant predrinking venue than staying cooped up in our room until things started to pick up.
…Yet despite our caution, we actually did have a potentially close call: at one point Peder was sure he saw two officers coming towards us. “Kei” he whispered. We stood up and walked casually (but quickly) in the exact opposite direction. It just so happened that the path behind us led us straight uphill, to a cliff overlooking Arcadia – apparently they couldn’t be bothered following.
Lucky for us.
We killed a few minutes chatting with a very friendly young couple who’d been enjoying the evening view before giving each other the “all clear” to head back down.
So, how was the famous Club Ibiza?
Still don’t know!
Like the previous night, we once again ended up connecting with a random group of locals who invited us to join in their evening’s festivities. The destination: Club Western.
Although we were still eager to experience the famous Ibiza/Itaca, we decided to join them at Western instead – clubs will come and go, but a lost opportunity for cool new friends is never something you can recover. And as always, it turned out to be an all-star night…until things started wrapping up around 6am. Then something strange happened.
The instant we stepped outside the club, these guys underwent a seemingly bipolar personality change. They went from fun, outgoing, and social – to disturbingly protective. Suddenly, they wouldn’t allow us to talk to anybody.
Now keep in mind that the main reason Peder and I meet so many people is because we talk to everybody – so having a group of friends literally pulling us away from whoever we approach, telling us not to talk to them, just felt…very off.
Ukrainian Dudes: “Go home now! The night’s over.”
Peder and Justin: “Why? We’re still having fun.”
UD: “Because, it’s late. It’s time to go home.”
PJ: “Then you go home; we’re not ready.”
UD: “No, please go home! It’s not good to stay out.”
PJ: “What do you care?”
UD: “It’s late, bad people here. Negative people.”
PJ: “I think we’ll be okay. It’s light out and there are plenty of pedestrians around. You can go home; we’ll stay.”
UD: “No! Come on, go home! Here’s a taxi – just go home!”
It went on and on like this – whoever we tried to talk to, no matter how friendly they were, no matter how young or old, no matter what they said – our “friends” kept dragging us away and insisting that we leave. Everyone was “Bad people, negative, dangerous, go home!”
In the moment, it was insanely irritating. A cool new group would invite us to join their table, and the “Go Home Crew” would immediately run over and pull us away. Could everybody out on the street really be a bad, dangerous person? Was all this really necessary? Or were we just being a naiive couple of tourists? Neither of us ever felt an inkling of danger, and I’d like to think that after having been in so many strange situations in so many distant countries, we’ve both developed a fairly decent sense of when it’s time to “get out of there.”
…But then again, Odesa is a renowned Russian Mafia hangout – so on some level, their insistence and apparent concern for us was a bit unnerving.
They were so persistent, absolutely refusing to leave us alone, that by 7am we finally just gave in and took a taxi home.