Odessa Local Customs

  • Local Customs
    by arturowan
  • Local Customs
    by arturowan
  • Local Customs
    by arturowan

Most Recent Local Customs in Odessa

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    Coffee Drinking Pleasure

    by hunterV Updated Jul 10, 2014

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    Cuba Caf��, since 2007
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    Coffee drinking is becoming more and more popular in Odessa.
    There are a lot of coffeehouses here, among them Cuba Café in Tiraspol Street (formerly Year 1905 Street) near Staroportofrankovskaya Street that was dedicated in 2007.
    The café has a unique atmosphere, excellent Illy coffee, the best capuccino in the city, and, of course, free Wi-Fi zone.

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    Odessa Humor Carnival

    by hunterV Updated Jul 10, 2014

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    Odessa Humor Carnival 2006: www.amadey.biz
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    Odessa Humor Carnival has been held there since 1973. Unlike all other cities of Ukraine, April Fool's Day is a day off in Odessa. Traditionally the Mayor of Odessa proclaims April 1 a day off. And, if it is a week day, it is transferred to the nearest Saturday. The holiday program starts at noon in Cathedral Square.
    Then April 1 Procession starts.
    It proceeds to: De Ribas Street - > Richelieu Street - > St.Panteleimon Street -> Kulikovo Field.
    The last stop of the Procession is the place where the evening gala concert takes place. At 6 p.m. there is usually an April 1 fireworks display.

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    What You Can Hear Only in Odessa

    by hunterV Updated Jul 10, 2014

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    Here are some anecdotes that I found in Passage magazine of Odessa. I have translated them for you!

    “Ivan,- a neighbor asks a neighbor,- you have such a big moustache, doesn’t it interfere with eating and drinking?”
    “Treat me and you will see”.
    ....................................................
    Sima shares her secrets with her neighbor Sonia.
    “Tell me, Sima, - Sonia asks,- has you husband ever found unfamiliar men in your wardrobe?”
    “Never. Everybody whom he found was his pal”.
    ...................................................
    A man and his wife are bathing at Langeron beach.
    “Look, Osya, you’re always by me. Are you afraid I may drown, dear? – the man's wife asks.
    “No, darling, but you have so much gold on you, I am afraid of loosing it”.
    ...................................................
    Two friends meet. One of them has a blue eye.
    “What’s happened?”
    “Do you remember that lady we saw the day before yesterday? You said she was a widow.”
    “Yes, I remember her well”.
    “So you should know you were wrong”.
    ..................................................
    Two ballet dancers are chatting behind the curtain after the performance.
    “Look, what’s wrong with Rita?” – one of them asks – She looks outraged”
    “She is upset she was given only fourteen bunches of roses”.
    “Fourteen bunches! Is that too little for her?!”
    “You see, she had paid for fifteen”.

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    Theater Going

    by hunterV Updated Jul 10, 2014

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    The hall of the Philharmonic Society, Odessa
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    The Odessans and the visitors of the city have always loved going to the theaters of Odessa.
    The Opera and Ballet Theater is known all over the former Soviet Union countries.
    The Philharmonic Society often stages guest performances of different theaters.
    You can also attend a concert or a variety show there.
    I was lucky to attend a performance at both theaters and was very impressed by them.

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    Babooshka!

    by arturowan Updated Mar 3, 2014

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    'Babooshka' is 1 of the Russian words that most westerners know, maybe because Kate Bush once had a hit song of that title...
    (I know this is in Ukraine, but 0dessa remains a Russian-speaking city, & that is what everybody there calls a grandmother...)
    You cannot cross the border into Ukraine, without seeing the 'babooshki', & what a core part of the country these old ladies are...
    In the coutryside, they can be seen toiling in their gardens, or sitting on chairs outside their homes, hoping to supplement their meagre pension money by selling a bagload of apples or cucumbers to passers-by...
    In the cities they can be seen stooping in the streets in orange bibs, during the early hours, trying to make ends meet by sweeping up the leaves & litter...
    Many 'babooshki' have a hunched figure, & I think this is due to the amount of time they spend bending over with these short-handled brushes (- whyever are traditional Ukrainian brooms designed for use by dwarfs?)
    A 'babooshka' is easily identified, almost always wearing a traditional headscarf, often brightly coloured or decorated, with an apron, & 'varenki' (traditional felt boots...)
    Like most things in Ukraine, 'babooshki' have a reputation for being somewhat bi-polar - don't think because they're old ladies, they cannot hold their own, especially in an argument, or when pushing for the last place on public transport...
    It's not recommended to get in the way of a 'babooshka' at such fraught moments - many know how to literally throw their weight around, combined with shopping bags, to benefit their own ends...
    When I was visiting a home in 0dessa, 2 'babooshki' arrived, who did not like each other, & when they set eyes on each other, it was like a couple of banshee shrieking at each other...
    The first thing I noticed about the culture when I went to Ukraine, was how the people on the street all appear to be arguing, but in fact, they're just more expressive & volatile than what anybody in the west is accustomed to...
    A 'babooshka' might have a hardened glare for a stranger, but this will almost certainly melt into the sweetest, toothiest smile, if spoken to...
    It's even likely you'll be invited back to her home for tea & a feast, despite the fact the state pension is insufficiant to sustain herself upon...
    Ukrainian elderly folk are known to like to talk, even if you cannot understand a word they're saying!
    If you read the book, The Long Way Round, by Charley Boorman & Ewan McGregor, 1 of their experiences of entering Ukraine, is stopping in a village, where a 'babooshka' is keen to talk!
    Ewan McGregor does not know what she's saying to him, while she clasps his hands to hers, but is nonetheless touched by her sentiment...
    It's traditional in Russian-speaking culture, for the grandmother to take a full role in bringing up her grandchildren, & might even take over this duty in its entirety...
    I happen to think this might explain many of the problems in this culture, because I've seen for myself how 'babooshki' spoil & smother children, literally spoon-feeding babies, & without intervention, will insist on treating children as helpless babies, long after it's appropiate for their individual development...
    According to the statistics, 'babooshki' live a full 11years longer than their menfolk, but some can still be alive in their 90's...

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    PROTEST! (0r Publicity Stunt?)

    by arturowan Written Feb 21, 2014
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    0dessa is a city where a visitor might witness a political demonstration at any time of year, & this has been true of my visits, (before the troubles of 2013/14)
    Ukraine is a volatile place, & people usually do not hesitate to take to the streets to demonstrate their point of view, on all sorts of issues...
    If you've read my tip; Ukrainian Feminism, you'll know that I'm a touch cynical about some of these protests, which to my eye resemble compulsive publicity seeking, for those who want 'their 15 minutes of fame' on televised news...
    Ironically, a link began circulating on 'facebook', showing the action that had occurred in the main Ukrainian cities, but for 0dessa, where a man was shown sitting on his bed, drinking lager, while watching the demonstrations on tv...
    I say ironic, because soon after this link had circulated, I happened upon some photo's of 1 of the protests in 0dessa, & to my utter disbelief, who should be leading it & addressing the assembly beneath the Duc de Richelieu statue, but somebody I'd met on my third visit there (- in fact, he inspired another 1 of my tips on here - 'moodashlyopi'...)
    I say utter disbelief, because the protest was in daylight, & this person was in the habit of sleeping all day, while partying the night away on a cocktail of vodka & cannabis, & not doing much else in life...
    Yet, in the chaos that has become of Ukrainian politics, this rather irresponsible character, has suddenly been inspired to raise himself from the couchette in the home (not his), where he was 'crashing', & put his point of view across on television, (as if he really gave a 'govno'!)
    I know from a fact, from having met this character, that he could not care less about Ukrainian politics, but knows a good self-publicity opportunity when it presents itself...
    I do not wish to cast aspersions on the genuine protestors in Ukraine, of which there are legion, & though they may not all share the same political point of view, their reasons for protesting are sincere...
    However, do not be taken in by all of them - they're a mixed bag, so to speak, (& some have already been active during EUFA 2012 - flying Nazi regalia beside the Ukrainian flag...)
    In 0dessa, on the news, I've watched female students 'mooning' the television cameras, in order to protest 'feminism' - & now I see a 36 year-old who spends his life busy doing nothing, seeking election!
    Political protest?
    NO - publicity stunt...

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    A day in the life...

    by arturowan Updated Feb 19, 2014
    A city of contrasting images...
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    Monday, 26th 0ctober 1987 - A Day in the Life of the Soviet Union - as recorded by TIME-LIFE photo-journalists throughout Russia & the satellite states around it's vast borders...
    No small project then, & of the 10 000's images that resulted from 100's of photographers, only a fraction could be published in the book that was published to illustrate this momentous, but atypical day of Soviet street life...
    0dessa receives only a few entries in the edited text, but in truth, it was such an interesting city, even in the midst of Cold war doom & gloom, it could have contributed an entire volume of images, warranting a publication devoted just to the port & street life, itself...
    The book was somehow prophetic, with the editorial desire to capture a culture that was in decline, as a result not so much of western competition, as the political policies of Mikhael Gorbachov...
    Gorbachov's policy of 'glasnost' - a word that cannot be accurately translated, but basically means; 'opening-up' - in respect to internal honesty as to how the Soviet Union was managed, or rather, mismanaged...
    Glasnost was the enemy-within for the USSR - within a few years of A Day In The Life 0f The Soviet Union being published in the west, the old order of totalitarian control behind 'the iron curtain', had collapsed, with political revolution within all the states that had constituted the union...
    I've been fascinated by A Day in the Life of the Soviet Union, ever since I first found the book, & now I've tracked down the unpublished photo's by Adnechka Grudinovker, on a webpage dedicated to the city...
    I've been using some of them to illustrate my travel tips on here, because it's extraordinary how so many of the images show scenes unchanged from when I was last in the city...
    Cars & lorries, which have altered so much in the west, appear no different at all!
    The most noticeable changes are the fashions worn by younger folk, & that Soviet streets had an absence of advertising, with Russian signing - something very different in 0dessa today...
    Here I have selected 5 images that I consider best reflect the nature of 0dessa as I saw the city when I was there, & were not much different from 2 decades before...

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    0dessa monuments - my top 10

    by arturowan Updated Feb 11, 2014

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    Period photo of house of Falz-Fein...
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    0dessa is a city noted for its street art - it's said to have more statues & monuments than any other Russian-speaking metropolis; maybe any other such city in the world...
    For the dedicated 0dessaphile, all are worthy of note, but for the first time tourist, this is my personally recommended list of unmissable, top 10 monuments, selected for their artistic edge & design & construction flair:

    1 - Monument to 0range - built to commemorate the 200th anniversary of 0dessa - a UNESCO recognised heritage piece, now located on Zhaventsky Bulvar (A.Tokarev)
    Also known as 'monument to bribe', this stunning creation reflects how the city was founded & funded, & the essence of what it has always been...

    2 - Monument to Sailor's Wife - dedicated to all wives whose husbands are seafarers - Port 0dessa (A.Tokarev)
    All port cities have a special character, & it should never be forgotten, that 0dessa was founded as an international place of sea trade...

    3 - Monument to Vera Kholodnaya - dedicated to Ukrainian-born actress who became Russia's only silent film star, before dieing in 0dessa in exile from the Bolsheviks, aged only 25 - Preobrazhenskaya/Sabornaya Ploshchat (A.Tokarev)
    A legend in her own fleeting lifetime - Russian tragedy for real...

    4 - Monument to Leonid Utyosov - dedicated to the multi-talented 0dessite band leader/composer/comic actor, incorporated with a public bench, in the City Garden

    5 - Monument to Isaac Babel - dedicated to the 0dessite writer, across the street from his former apartment building - intersection of Zhukovskaya & Rishelyeskaya

    6 - Monument to Petya & Gavrik - dedicated to the 2 0dessite heroes of Valentin Kataev's novel; Lone White Sail

    7 - Monument to General Malinovskiy - dedicated to the Red Army General who liberated his native city from the Axis occupiers in 1944 - Preobrazhenskaya/Nekrasova

    8 - Abduction of Europa - built to celebrate the 200th anniversary of 0dessa

    9 - House with Atlas - 2 figures of Atlas, incorporated into a corner of a former residence of a German aristocratic family, the Barons von Falz-Fein

    10 - Golden Child sculpture, depicting a baby being born out of an egg(!) - Port 0dessa

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    "nyerusski" ?

    by arturowan Updated Feb 11, 2014

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    Kiev might be Ukraine's capital (& 'the mother of Russian cities'), but 0dessa is reputedly the nation's most cosmopolitan, owing mostly to it being the biggest, bustling port on the Black Sea.
    But, is it 'cosmopolitan' by western standards, or Russian-speaking standards?
    I would compare it to my hometown, Harwich, England, in terms of its cosmopolitan status - it has some history behind it, certainly & is also an international hub of tourist entry & exit, as well as freight, but of the local folk?
    The attitude is not really 'cosmopolitan' at all - disappointingly so in the case of 0dessa, where locals do not even seem to understand the basic concept of tourism...
    (All tourists are looking for a wife, or smuggling contraband, or spying...)
    0dessa might be the most cosmopolitan city in all Ukraine, but like all Russian-speaking states, it has not caught up with western-thinking towards foreigners & their slang reflects this - "nyerusski" - means; "No Russian (spoken)" & is equivalent to westerners saying, "dumb"; i.e; being speechless = stupidity...
    The tragedy about this is that 0dessa was originally a multi-cultural city, & its coat of arms reflects this - the anchor has 4 flukes, representing each of the languages the founders of the city knew to be commonplace on the streets - Italian; French; Greek; & Russian...
    The streets of the city were paved by Italian labourers, & in order to commemorate this, not only were a street & a boulevard named in honour of their country, but all the original roadsigns were bilingual Russian/Italian...
    0dessa has always had a high immigrant population, especially of Jewish people, hence another street is also named in their honour...
    So where did this vision of multi-culturalism from 2 centuries ago, go wrong & turn into insular, 'if it ain't Russian, it ain't wrong', sort of thinking?
    The tide turned in this cosmopolitan metropolis, when the Bolsheviks took supremacy - it was their philosophy that Russia was at the centre of the Soviet Union, & Russian, by law, became the predominant language...
    It became a centralised policy, known as 'Russification'...
    Communist politics were isolationist, & also paranoid, (under Stalin, to a pathological extreme)because Russian aristocracy were bi-lingual French/Russian-speaking...
    They spoke French in front of their servants, to prevent their gossiping, so the Bolsheviks were consequently mistrustful of any non-Russian conversation...
    Even though 0dessa remained a trading port, interchange with foreigners diminished & local thinking became increasingly suspicious, as all westerners, as well as Jews, were regarded as the enemy...
    So, 0dessa became what it is today - a Black Sea centre of trade, that regards itself as more Russian than Ukrainian - a sad evolution for the town that was founded on the principle of multi-culturalism, before this concept had even been invented for the betterment of all...

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    Count Lanzheron...

    by arturowan Written Jan 25, 2014

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    Lanzheron Beach in Soviet times...

    Any visitor to 0dessa will become familiar with the name Lanzheron - the city's central beach bears that name, & it's reached from Lanzheronskaya 0ulitsa...
    Alike many thoroughfares in 0dessa, the street name is a memorial to somebody of importance in the city's history, in this case, Count Alexandre Andrault de Langeron...
    (Being a French name, the 'g' in the surname is soft, whereas in Russian, a 'g' is always hard, so in that language it's translated for proper pronunciation, as the letter equivalent = 'zh'...)
    Born on 24th January 1763 in Paris, the Count became a founding father of the city, succeeding the Duke of Richelieu as governor, so realising the initial plans for the new port...
    By imperial decree, 0dessa was declared a place of stowage for export goods, & so became a Free Port on 16th April 1817
    0ther contributions Count Langeron made to 0dessa, were the establishment of the city's first local newspaper, a botanical garden, & a mineral water source in the City Park...
    Count Langeron came from an aristocratic French family & spent his life in the army, serving in the war with Sweden, 3 times in the Russo-Turkish war, & the battle of Austerlitz, from which he was dismissed in disgrace & sent to 0dessa...
    Despite being a Frenchman, he served in the American War of Independence, & actually ended up fighting against Napoleon, when he joined the Russian army, with which he remained throughout his life, until ill health put him into administerial roles...
    Before becoming Mayor of 0dessa, he served as Military Governor of Kherson...
    He died in Saint Petersburg on 16th July, during the cholera epidemic of 1831

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    Monument to Sergey Utyochkin...

    by arturowan Written Jan 24, 2014

    Sergey Isayevich Utyochkin was born in 0dessa on 12th July 1876
    He was a man ahead of his time, with a zest for sports, & he would nowadays be regarded as an 'extreme sportsman'...
    Utyochkin was a legend -in-his-own-lifetime, known as 'the conqueror of the fifth ocean', he was capable of publicity stunts, such as driving a car from Prymorskiy Boulevard, down the Potyomkin Steps, into the port!
    Had he lived a century later, he would no doubt have been a global household name, & an athlete representative of an extreme sports brand, such as RED BULL...
    As well as being a keen swimmer, boxer, fencer, footballer, & cyclist, winning 14 races internationally, Utyochkin also was an aviator, motorcyclist, racing driver, & pioneer of roller skating!
    Nor was he 'a jack of all sports & master of none', because his soccer skills were good enough to play for 0dessa British Athletic Club, while he was rated second best pilot in Russia, flying a Farman bi-plane, making about 150 flights & surviving crashes!
    Flying was maybe his greatest love of all, which led him into a passion for air ballooning, which began in 1907 - he flew over the Sahara desert & the pyramids in order to reach Egypt!
    After mastering 15 high energy pursuits, by irony of ironies, Utyochkin died aged only 39, as a result of pneumonia, brought about by contracting flu in Saint Petersburg, in the previous winter of 1915
    He died on 13th January 1916 - though in fact had been suffering since a plane crash in 1911 - unable to afford medicine or even regular food, because in those days, all sportsmen were self-funded...
    Indeed, he died a forgotten hero, rumoured to be insane & homeless, when not in hospital or hotels, after his record-breaking glory days faded, even his wife abandoned him in favour of a rich entrepeneur, in Utyochkin's native city of 0dessa...
    During Soviet times, a vintage car club existed in 0dessa, based at 28 Bazarnaya 0ulitsa, which was dedicated to the memory of Utyochkin...
    His statue can be found in 0dessa City Garden, on a pedestal half way up the staircase leading towards the Utyochkino cinema & jazz cafe, named in his honour, & originally opened by his brothers, in order to provide revenue to sponsor Utyochkin's activities...
    His likeness is cast in bronze, to a design by 0dessan sculptor, Aleksandr Tokarev, depicting the legendary sportsman throwing a paper plane skywards...

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    Monument to sailor's wife...

    by arturowan Written Jan 18, 2014

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    "1 half of 0dessa citizens goes to sea - while other better half, waits for them - staring intensely into the distance..."
    This is an old 0dessan saying, & sums up the intrinsic nature of this city, founded as an international trading port...
    A monument to demonstrate this side of 0dessa, was unveiled on the 2nd September 2002
    Monument to sailor's wife, depicts a local mother, holding in arms outstretched towards the sea, an infant, in demonstration of faith that her seafaring husband, returns from his voyage...
    The sculpture is an elegant design by local sculptor, Aleksandr Tokarev, who also created the astonishing Monument to 0range (see separate article...)
    Monument to Sailor's wife is a simpler design, recreating the human form, faithfully in bronze, & mounted on the dockside @ Port 0dessa...
    A loudspeaker at the base of the sculpture, plays a lament, composed by local composer, Leonid Utoyosov (see separate article...)
    Appropiately, the sculpture can often be viewed with a commercial vessel alongside, & the ceremony of unveiling dedicated the design to all mariners transiting the Black Sea port, some of whom might be away from their families, in the case of giant container ships, or tankers, as much as half of a year...

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    NAKED...& funny?

    by arturowan Updated Jan 17, 2014

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    0dessa is a city with a reputation for a unique sense of humour & there is even a day set aside as a local festival to celebrate 0dessite hunour...
    The city can also be recognised in scenes from the locally made, but American financed, blend of Jeremy Beadle meets The Benny Hill Show - NAKED & FUNNY!
    This show is a supposed set-up of unsuspecting passers-by, usually involving at least 1 model losing her clothes, stripping-off, or appearing topless in such unlikely settings as a library...
    It is entertaining enough, but the over-acted reactions of members of the public when the supposedly 'hidden' camera is pointed out to them, suggests that as with all such supposedly candid tv, the entire scenario was no secret...
    This programme might not be regarded as typically 0dessite, but I do think it reflects the city's humour, because like the people, it is a tad immature/childish, akin to a McGill seaside postcard scene, minus the English subtlety & sophistication - adding any bikini model who is game enough to give an eyeful of her 'balshoi bankee' ("big jugs"...)
    I once presented a bottle of Californian wine to some folk in 0dessa, who found it hilarious when the label serving suggestion was translated to read, "with a barbecue, or while watching a DVD..."
    Quite why drinking wine while watching a DVD was such a source of hilarity I still do not quite appreciate; I suppose you just have to be an 0dessite?

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    Ukrainian feminism (?)

    by arturowan Updated Jan 16, 2014

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    Ukrainian females are feisty to pretend their own brand of feminism, but this has become something of a source of humour to me from repeated visits...
    Local news coverage on my last 2 trips featured protests by female students, that in 2010 had been inspired to cause some girls on campus in 0dessa, to be standing outside in temperatures below freezing...
    They were demonstrating for equal rights at university, yet despite the cold weather, were standing outside with as much make-up on, as clothes, with their fur coats unbuttoned enough to show plenty of cleavage...
    0n my last return, in 2011 there was another televised street demonstration, which was staged by a group calling itself FEMEN
    FEMEN were founded in Ukraine in 2008, but are now said to be based in Paris - & on this occasion were keen to demonstrate against the latest antics of a certain Italian PM...
    Dressed in low-cut tops, miniskirts & an overload of cosmetics (in a frozen January) their protest involved bending over & removing sexy 'trooseekee' (worn over tights & invisible thong) then throwing these garments at attending members of militia...
    The bemused policemen stood impassive, until the girls 'mooned' them repeatedly, which brought about their arrest & removal in back of waiting police van...
    DA! This was the news & I was sober, though in reflection I still cannot believe that even in 0dessa, the main news can come so close to mimicing the Benny Hill Show, or locally made, 'Naked & Funny'...
    FEMEN have since gained international notoriety, owing to the arrest of punk band PUSSY RIOT - & subsequent imprisonment of 2 members, now regarded as martyrs in regard to their anti-Putin protest in a Moskow church...
    But are FEMEN genuine protestors, or just compulsive public seekers?
    Who am I to ? the sincerity of their protests, when no less than an organisation than Amnesty International has given PUSSY RIOT their support over receiving custodial sentences...
    However, what I saw of these feminist protests when in the country, did appear to me to be no more than attention-seeking stunts...

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    Monument to 0range...

    by arturowan Updated Jan 7, 2014

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    0dessa is a city of sculptures, so many of which are intricately linked to the rich history of the resort, but if anybody wants to make a point of visiting just 1 - that means it has to be something special...
    Such is the Monument to 0range, to be found on Zhvanetsky Boulevard, in the ornate, Primorsky seafront area...
    The enormous, but intricate sculpture, was cast using nearly a tonne of bronze in Kiev, to a design by Aleksandr Tokarev, who won a competition organised in order to commemorate 2 centuries of trading in 0dessa...
    It's a stunning design, that must have required all the skills of the foundry, in order to realise, so detailed are some sections of the piece, with a lengthy Cyrillic inscription on the left side of the 'orange'...
    Somehow, despite its great mass of material, the design appears kinetic & the observer night believe that the horses really will drag the giant orange downhill!
    The Monument to 0range was officially unveiled on the intersection of Yekaterinskaya & Lanzheronskaya, in order to coincide with the city's birthday; 4th September 2004
    The original location was not regarded to show the design to its best, so it was later shifted about 500m to its current position, nearer the seafront...
    A quarter of the central bronze fruit is depicted removed, inside which stands Russian emperor Paul I, contemplating a lifesize orange, in his outstretched hand...
    The oversize 'orange', appears like a fairytale pumpkin, that has turned into a carriage, standing on a pair of wheels, with 3 horses prancing at its head...
    Atop the giant orange is a model of a collonnaded building, the 0dessa town hall, & the entire sculpture is mounted upon a marble plinth, 12.5 m diameter...
    Emperor Paul I is credited with the rejuvenation of the city, by arranging the funding required to turn it into what has become the busiest port on the Black Sea...
    The role of the orange in this crucial aspect in 0dessan history, is that the mayor arranged for 3000 of the fruit to be sent to Saint Petersburg, as a gift to Paul I in February 1800, so as to succour his favour to loan the cash needed to complete the building of the port...

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