All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don't. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.

Robert Kennedy

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

до свидания, Ukraine.

Yes, the inevitable 'lasts' are starting. This past weekend was my last trip to Odessa. I can't believe I have now visited there 4 times. Never would I have thought I would spend so much time in the Ukraine which up until this experience had just been a major conquest in a heated game of Risk, but I have grown to love that country. True it is huge and I saw barely a speck of it, but it is great. I have visited Odessa at various times of the year and it has always been great. This time it was a quick turnaround trip for my roommate, Holly's birthday. But we all know what it was really about, food. That's what all vacations are about. We lovingly called it our day of 'sushi and dudes.' Holly, me and our friends Natasha and Dahnika left on a midnight bus out of Moldova. It is about a 4 hour ride to the Ukraine border, there is always some time spent there especially when there are Americans involved, and then another hour into the city of Odessa. We got into town just as dawn was breaking. The driver was pretty crazy and the ride itself turned into somewhat of an amusement ride. Thankfully we were all a little too tired to worry.
When we arrived there was NOTHING open so at 6:00am we were forced to walk around the city for a while. Not ideal, but thankfully the weather had warmed up just enough to not make it uncomfortable. We were basically just looking for some place to sit and have coffee. The only place we found to sit was in the train station and you had to pay to sit there. Ugh. Finally at around 8, places started to open. When I had visited last year with John and Jeremy, we had discovered this delightful restaurant called "Kompot." We found it and I assured my traveling companions that they would not be disappointed. I was correct. I got a giant homemade croissant covered in bacon, cheese lettuce, tomato and a garlic aioli dressing that all melted in my mouth. I can't remember the last time I had a fresh sandwich. It was served with a steaming glass of hot cocoa. It was seriously the best thing I have eaten in a very long time. Completely satisfied, we walked over to our hostel which was just around the corner. We had all (at different times) stayed there before so when 'Shekhar' opened the door to let us in, his face lit up as he was happy to see us. The hostel is owned by an American named John, who married a Ukrainian named Masha. Shekhar and two other students run the hostel in exchange for living there while they attend medical school. Shekhar is from Agra, India and speaks 6 languages. And he's adorable. We couldn't technically 'check in' until 2, and it was now 9am, but he saw we were tired and since our beds were free, he let us nap. It was just what we needed. We woke up by 1:00 and were ready for the day. He recommended a good Indian food place in town. I had never had Indian food and neither had Natasha, but Holly really wanted it so we went. Good LORD I don't think I have ever experienced such flavor. It was amazing. I couldn't even tell you what the hell we ordered but it was amazing and I will most definitely be exploring this ethnicity of food again in my future. 
It had started to rain which was unfortunate. We ducked into a coffee shop and had some coffee until the rain stopped. From there we walked around the historic district, shopped, took some photos, people watched, just relaxed.
As it headed toward evening, we found an Irish Pub to relax at for a bit until we were ready for dinner. Seriously, this trip was all about eating. Next door was the sushi restaurant I had been at twice before. I was very excited. And it didn't disappoint. We were so, so happy at such a successful day of eating and relaxing.
4 satisfied girls - Me, Natasha, Holly and Dahnika
There were a group of students at the next table who heard us speaking English. They too were medical students and were so delighted to speak English as they were used to speaking Russian all the time. We spoke to them for a while but we were all pretty exhausted. The best part of the evening was our waiter кириелле. (Kee-ree-yell). He was beautiful and he enjoyed us. He asked us to please come back. Oh, how I wish we could, кириелле.

Me and кириелле. 
We had planned to go out to Karaoke but in reality, we were all just really wiped. We went back to the hostel and our host, Shekhar and the other guy who worked there were still up so we hung out with them for a while before we all crashed. 
Unfortunately, this was the night of Daylight Savings in Eastern Europe so we lost an hour of sleep. We woke up later than planned as we did want to get back to Kompot for one final delicious croissandwich. We quickly packed and got ready and said our goodbyes to Shekhar and the glorious hostel that is the Babushka Grand. (Seriously, the best hostel I have ever stayed at.) We got to Kompot just in time and enjoyed our breakfast. 
From there we walked to the bus station but had a few more hours to kill before our bus left. The weather was absolutely beautiful (finally) so we could walk around without coats on. We found a coffee shop and had some dessert while we waited. 
The bus ride back was simple and it was so nice out so I could see the scenery. Started to feel a cold coming on which is so rare to me that it worried me. 
And now, it's the full-blown flu. Blech! All is well though. Only 95 more days to go. But who's counting?

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