Odessa Local Customs

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

Best Rated Local Customs in Odessa

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    It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World...

    by arturowan Updated Oct 15, 2014

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    In 0dessa there are many sculptures & the significance of many of them will only be clear to a local..
    But 1 of the most significant to the city itself, but perhaps most easily overlooked & neglected, is the bronze chair on a red granite plinth, right in the centre of the City Garden (or 0stap Bender Square, as fans of the book prefer to call it...)
    '0stap Bender' roughly equates in Russian-speaking culture, to what 'Delboy Trotter' does in English...
    The chair is a tribute to the locally written satirical novel, 'Dvenattset Stoolev' - THE 12 CHAIRS, (which is also known as 'Babushkin Secret', when performed on tour by the Moscow State Circus, & has inspired similar tales, such as Arthur Conan Doyle's, Sherlock Holmes adventure, 'The 6 Napolean's', & I think had a little to do with the inspiration behind the 1963 film, 'It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World')...
    The plot centres upon a set up 12 chairs upholstered in English blue chintz, which have been split up, due to the Russian Revolution & the anti-gentry policies of the Bolsheviks...
    1 of these chairs has hidden in the cushion, a fortune in diamonds, & to track it down is the basis of the plot, that involves the strangely named book's hero - 0stap Sulayman Berta Maria Bender-Bey, who proclaims himself; 'the great combinator' - & his even more amusingly nicknamed, female sidekick, 'Pussy'...
    (Da, some humour is transferable from Russian into American-English...)
    Not only did Ilya Ilf & Yevgeny Petrov, set the scene leading into the adventure, within 0dessa, though changing its name to Chyornomorsk ('black sea') - they specifically set the plot at addresses on its many streets, such as Mala Arnautskaya, (where I once rented an apartment...)
    If your interest in 0dessa goes beyond passing tourism & has developed into a fascination for this enigmatic city, then The 12 Chairs is essential studying, not least because it paints a picture of the city as 1 built not on rock'n'roll, but counterfeiting & dodgy dealings, & this was written in 1928!
    Even more amazingly, all manuscripts at this time, were subject to censor from the Bolshevik committee concerned with public enlightenment & entertainment, & were only passing those propagandist to Bolshevist ideals...
    Yet, The 12 Chairs take an irreverent slant on the revolution & Russian culture, yet not only did the manuscript survive the censor, it was published, & to influence generations to come...
    Both authors tapped into a colourful vein, that is somehow the essential 0dessa, & has been for at least a century...

    0stap Bender (right) in street art...
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    Hero City...

    by arturowan Updated Nov 7, 2013

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    0dessa was 1 of the original cities of the Soviet Union, to be awarded official "heroic" status, by Stalin in 1945
    (2 other Ukrainian cities also were honoured - Kiev & Sevastopol; Kerch was recognised later as a 'hero city'...)
    In August 1941, 0dessa was besieged by a combined assault of Romanian & German troops, raging a fierce battle until 16th 0ctober, when Soviet forces & 15000 locals, were withdrawn by sea transport...
    However, the fight for 0dessa was not won, & the city never actually fell into Nazi control, because of a determined group of Partisans, who set themselves up in the maze of catacombs beneath the city, where they endured a twilit existence for 13 months...
    To this day, their bravery in resisting the occupying forces is remembered in monuments around 0dessa, & at the city's train terminus, to this day, raised golden letters announce - 'Gorod geroy' ('City of heroes')...
    My own experiences of meeting local people in 0dessa, is that the war is still remembered as a recent event & those half my age are keen to talk about what their grandparents did at this fraught time...

    It's traditional for newly weds to pay respects...
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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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    "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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    Ukrainian Women and Smoking

    by bilgeez Updated Apr 2, 2005

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    Although cigarettes are plentiful and cheap in Ukraine, it appears that many women there do not smoke. Many men seem to. But for some reason most women do not pick up the habit. It may be a gender or cultural bias, or a conscious part on women to remain healthy. (Most Ukrainian women seem to take pride in keeping in shape and in their appearance.) Also, from my unscientific survey, younger women in Ukraine seem to be smoking less than their older sisters.
    My sample was taken from Confidential Connections Gallery of Ladies Personal Bios.
    Total sample size: 2013
    women who reported affirmatively to one of five sample questions about smoking habits: 352
    Percent of women who admitted to smoking: 14.9
    Percent of sample who are 23 years old or younger: 19.9
    Percent of age group who admitted to smoking: 12.9
    Percentage of women 24 years and older who admit to smoking: 16.0
    The variance is 5.71 and standard deviation is 2.39.
    What I find interesting is that in Buenos Aires the statistics are almost the direct opposite.
    A much larger percentage of women admit to smoking and a much larger proportion of younger women smoke versus older women.
    My sample was taken from Fiancee Connections Gallery of Ladies Personal bios.
    Sample size: 640
    Women who admitted to smoking: 334
    Percentage of women who smoke: 52.2
    Percentage of women in sample who are 23 years or younger: 65.1
    Percentage of age group that smokes: 58.5
    Percentage of smokers in age group 24 years and older: 44.4
    This opens up for some interesting hypotheses. There are three and a half times as many smokers in the Portenas group than the Ukrainian. But the percentage falls down quite markedly after 24 years in the Portenas group.
    Almost five times as many women smoke in the 23 and under Portenas group as the Ukrainian Group.
    Cigarettes are cheap and plentiful in both countries.
    I haven't researched how aggressive each country is in trying to reduce smoking. I hadn't noticed anything very overt in Ukraine the times I have been there.

    Tatiyana B at Arkadia Beach
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    Unmarried Ukrainian Women with Children

    by bilgeez Written Apr 2, 2005

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    Unmarried Ukrainian women have low levels of having children. A country where most people don't admit to being very religiously oriented, divorce rate is high and promiscuity is not aggressively discouraged.
    Sample group is Confidential Connections Gallery of Ladies Personal bios.
    Total sample group:2033
    Total group with children: 864
    Percent of total with children: 42.5
    group age 23 and younger: 408
    age 23 and younger with children: 9
    percent of group age 23 and younger with children: 2.2
    Percent of age group 23 and younger with children compared to total group: 0.44
    Total sample age group 24 and above: 1625
    Percentage of age group 24 and above with children: 52.65
    Percentage of age group 24 and above with children compared to total group: 42.05
    Incidents of women under 23 with children is almost non-existant. I found no women under 20 with children in the sample group.
    I know in Slavic cultures women are taught to be more demure and not be aggressive toward men.
    The difference is not much greater in the survey of a similar group of women in Buenos Aires.
    What I found in this survery are that of unmarried women in Buenos Aires, that very few younger women have children and even less than half of the older single women have children.
    Sample group is Fiancee Connections Gallery of Ladies Personal bios info.
    Total sample: 640
    Women with children: 124
    Percentage of total with children:19.4
    Women 23 and under:417
    Women 23 and under with children: 22
    Percentage of women 23 and under with children: 5.27
    Percentage of women 23 and under with children of total: 3.44
    Women 24 and over: 223
    Women 24 and over with children: 102
    Percentage of women 24 and over with children: 45.7
    Percentage of women over 24 with children in whole group: 15.9
    I was surprised this percentage was so low, but then, Argentina is a largely Catholic country, and moral standards are very high.

    Katya-She's so fresh!
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    Isaac Babel - The Great Odessan

    by Klod5 Written Jul 18, 2003

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    "... Just forget for a minute that you have spectacles on your nose and autumn in your heart. Stop being tough at your desk and stammering with timidity in the presence of people. Imagine for one second that you rise hell in public place ... If rings had been fastened to earth and sky, you'd have seized those rings and pulled the sky down to the earth ..."

    Isaac Babel. "How it Was Done in Odessa."
    Translation by Andrew R. MacAndrew

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    Mikhail Zhvanetsky - Chairman of World Wide Club

    by Klod5 Written Jul 18, 2003

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    Writer famous for his extraordinary satirical works. Author of numerous brilliant stories and sketches. Born in Odessa, lived in Odessa and Leningrad, now lives in Moscow. Honorary Citizen of Odessa.

    A test for a sense of humor
    (translation from M. Zhvanetsky's story)
    A street of Odessa. A dove dropped a piece of *** on the head of a man. The man referred to an odessan lady who passed by with a baby and asked her for a tissue. The answer was : "Are you really gonna catch up with it?"

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    Odessa's cultural life

    by Klod5 Written Jul 18, 2003

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    While Odessa is famous for its cultural traditions and fine architecture, on a sightseeing tour of the city, the visitors become familiar not only with the most original and known part of Odessa, but with its, not without reasons to be said, rich history. We are proud that a whole galaxy of artists, poets and scientists made a considerable contribution to extending its glory. It would suffice it to mention such prominent figures as Mechnikov, Pirogov, Mendeleev, Pushkin and Bunin lived here. The Odessa Theater of Opera and Ballet, second best theater in Europe after one in Vienna, heard the singing of Shalyapin and Sobinov, saw performances of Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov.

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    The harbor

    by Klod5 Updated Apr 20, 2003

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    The pier on the harbor... and the church of the Sailors close to the harbor passengers of Odessa.

    A service of catières (maritime shuttles - of French " côtières " ?), existed once : Kataïev borrows them - " the small boat steam accelerated its race... " -, Trotski uses them - " I installed myself on the bridge of steam... " -, Ilf and Petrovs take them. Because of the rise of the price of fuels, it will be necessary, I fear, to satisfy you of these literary evocations. Their working became very uncertain, and the service in is disrupted. The pontoon of craft is on the left side of the maritime station, just after the ship hotel Taras Chevtchenko.

    Odesa - the harbor
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    Just waiting for a tram?

    by arturowan Updated Mar 12, 2013

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    A first time visitor from the west, is sure to be taken aback at what 0dessa girls chose to wear - or not to wear on the hottest days of the year...
    I know I was! My return visits have all been in the winter, but even so...
    Fashion basics is apparently - Paris streetwalker, with more make-up than a typical transvestite would apply - peculiar considering Ukrainian girls are naturally attractive, yet seem compelled to bury their looks under facepaint...
    Such 'dyevooshkee' seem to delight in hanging around the kerbs on busy street corners, looking for any passer-by, like 'asphalt flowers', (a Russian euphemism for girls soliciting for men...)
    A sarcastic Russian couplet has evolved in popular culture, in observation of this behaviour...
    It does not translate well in English, because it is a rhymimg phrase - 'padoomayesh? Ya nye takaya, ya tolka zhdoo tramvaya!'
    ("You think? I'm not such, I'm just waiting for a tram!")
    0bject of the vicarious humour being - if the girl in ? who has taken such offence at being approached by a curious male, is so innocent, why wear enough make-up you could paint a 'dacha' with, together with push-up bra, flimsy top, fishnet hold-ups, & obligatory miniskirt?
    0f course - the main reason in order to visit 0dessa is to admire the scenery - the classical architecture, that is!

    Typical street scene in 0dessa - a scenic city...
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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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    0dessa monuments - my top 10

    by arturowan Updated Feb 11, 2014

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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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    Duc de Richelieu statue!

    by arturowan Written Jan 17, 2013

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    You'll find the likeness of the Duc de Richelieu at the top of the Potemkin Steps, which were once called the Richelieu Steps, as his statue was said to be the first to walk down them. Despite the fact that Armand Emmanuel du Plessis was a Frenchman, for reasons best known to himself, the Russian sculptor, Ivan Petrovich Martos has depicted him alike Caeser, in Roman toga. The original governor of 0dessa is striking a typically sculptural, unrealistically earnest pose, with right hand outstretched, & his left holding a scroll. 0dessites have 2 jokes about this pose;
    1 - his outstretched hand makes the governor of 1803, appear to be begging...
    2 - the scroll he's holding is peculiarly stumpy, & if observed from the right hand side, appears to be joined to his pelvis - that is, for all observers is an optical illusion, that the Duc appears to be pleasuring himself in public!

    This photo was taken in the Soviet era... Another historic view of the old statue...
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    Ukrainian Train Hospitality

    by om_212 Updated Sep 8, 2010

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    when traveling by train, be prepared that your travel companions might be too excited to meet you. for some of them, you will be the first foreigner they have ever met on the train, or even in their life. Most likely they would not speak your language, but they will try to impress you with Ukrainian hospitality. Th Ukrainian hospitality might translate into ask you to share a dinner with them and in some cases, offer you a drink "za znayomstvo" ('nice to meet you' drink). The drink can range from a beer to numerous shots of vodka. Usually a polite ‘thank you’ and ‘no’ (dyakuyu, ya ne pyu - ukr.) will do, but if your travel companion keeps insisting, say that you take medication that do not go with alcohol (ya pryimayu liky - ukr.) In rare instances, which will hopefully never happens, your companion might keep bugging you. in that case, ask a conductor to move you to another compartment.

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