South of France style, East European promise
Friday, 13 January 2012
Off the beaten track for westerners appeals to BRIAN OGLE who visits Odessa on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast...
AFTER having explored and being very pleasantly surprised by the major cities in the Baltic States and most of the new central European EU countries, it seemed logical that my next trip would be to a vast country which is almost unknown to the tourist from the west - a land once regarded as Russia's bread-basket - and the country, along with Poland, hosting the European soccer championships next year.
I spent three nights in the Ukraine capital Kiev last year and that only encouraged me to return.... this time making Odessa, the country's Black Sea playground, my base for a few days R&R after yet another disappointing sunless Northern Ireland summer.
From the moment I had to shield my eyes from the glare of the white concrete apron as I stepped from the cocoon of my Malev jet from Budapest the thermometer was registering a healthy plus 28 degrees, (compared with the autumnal 15 degrees when I left Dublin that morning), so I reckoned I had made a good choice.
Odessa, it has been said, sits with its back to the rest of Ukraine, looking solidly outwards towards the rest of the world, not because it doesn't like its neighbours but because it has always been outward looking and cosmopolitan... and that is reflected in the character of its citizens. They are in the main, very ‘Western aware’ with their eye on EU membership in a decade or so, but helpful and friendly to visitors. The vast majority of tourists come from Russia and the rest of Ukraine, so don’t be surprised that only about one in five locals, outside the hotels, speak English.
To read the rest of Brian Ogle's feature on his break in Odessa and see all the pictures, pick up a copy of Northern Ireland Travel News...
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