Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sunday in Downtown Odessa

Sunday we did not visit the orphanage. We had not explored in downtown Odessa since we had been here so we decided it was time to do that. Many of the familes that come here stay in hotels downtown, so have a lot of opportunities for that. But our apartment is on the far west side near the orphanage so we never get down there. It rained all day, though it was not extremely cold.

The day started with visiting a church downtown with one of our hosts, Lyena. It is a nondenominational church plant, and many of the people that attend are missionaries. They sang many of the songs that we sing back home, such as Shout to the Lord, but they are in Russian. We sat in the last row with a nice young lady named Anya, who translated for us. There was a guest preacher named Darwin who is the head of a missionary organization that has a ministry in Odessa and other places. He and his wife are here for a few days. They are from Clear Lake, Iowa, which is a few hundred miles from our city, Mitchell, South Dakota. Darwin was telling me about the outreach that they have to the street kids in Odessa. He said that a couple of years ago there were about 2,000, but now there are only about 900 because they are dying off. I told him I would like to tag along on one of their outreaches, but doubt that I'll be able to do this though, as they head out at 10:00 PM and are out all night. The pastor also preached a short sermonette about the bad economy in Ukraine and about how this is a time of opportunity for the church to reach out to people in their time of distress with the Good News of Christ.

After church, we headed downtown to buy a map of Odessa, then out to lunch with some of those that were at the church.

After lunch we headed out to the streets. We ended up at the Port of Odessa, then rode the bus home on our own for the first time. It takes about 1/2 hr. from downtown and costs 1.75 grivna per person. That is about 25 cents.

Here are some pictures from the day.

Here we are on the way to the bus stop to go downtown with Lyena. The bus stop is on the corner but the corner is a ways away. The blocks here are large with many large soviet-era apartment buildings per block. We were told that the buildings were designed to last 15-20 years. The soviets intended to keep tearing them down and rebuilding them to keep people working. But of course they never were. They are for the most part ugly and in need of repair. I would like to see an American building inspector come here and look at them. There is a lot of litter here. Once in a while you will see an old lady picking up garbage. They look like city employees. They pick it up by hand. Every night a large street sweeper kind of truck goes down our street sucking up garbage. Yet it is still everywhere if you look for it. The next picture is the corner where we wait for the bus.

This is where we went to church downtown. It was an upstairs room in an ornate building. I'm not sure what the room is used for the rest of the week. It looks like an old theater. There is a stage at the very front, which was not used for this, and the walls are covered with paintings. They were not prints. The gal in the orange shirt next to Nancy was our translator, Anya.

On our way to lunch after church with Anya. You can see the Odessa Opera House down the street in a couple of the pictures. We didn't visit this day. We will try to another time.

Lunch. At this place, there were several stations, so to speak, where you select items that you would like to buy. At the first one, where there are salads, they would use the scale, that you can see in the picture, to weigh the portions. They would add or subtract with a spoon until it was just right. Much of the food was unrecognizable, even the meats, and we were glad that we had a local to help us choose. Things that you think you know end up having different flavors than you'd expect. For example, they use a lot of mayonaisse here. And what I thought was coleslaw was just shredded cabbage with mayonaisse (No I didn't care for it too much). This is a nice restaurant, but lunch for the three of us was only about $15. One other thing you will learn in Ukraine is they don't put ice in beverages. There are a couple of reasons. The water here is unhealthy, with high levels of arsenic, and possibly lead. So people buy bottled water or have filters. Second, it was explained to us that it would be scandalous, as people would be cheated out of their drink because of all of the ice. They never offer free refills on drinks of anything. Even water.

Visiting around the table with the church people. Anya is in orange. She works as a professional translator for a business in Odessa. The others are missionaries. One of them in the picture is leaving soon for Belarus. That country is closed to missionaries but because of her background she will be able to get in.

This is a view out of the windows of the restaurant. It is the 6th floor level of a mall downtown.

This is the men's room at the restaurant. In Europe, they call them water closets. You can see why! The commodes are in tiny closets.

There are many trendy stores in downtown Odessa and in this mall. Here is a store where you can buy those tall leather boots that the young women wear here. I asked Nancy if she wanted me to buy her one of these dresses for Christmas and she said no thanks.

The cars park on the sidewalk here.

A square with a statue at the convergence of several streets. Workers are paving the area with new bricks. The statue is a memorial to the founders of Odessa. The original monument was destroyed by the Communists in 1920, but a facsimile was reconstructed a couple of years ago.

The Potempkin Stairs. In the second picture, you can see the above monument in the distance between the pink and white buildings. The statue in the foreground is of the first Russian governor of Odessa. They joke here that he looks like he is asking for a handout.

The Potempkin stairs go down to the Black Sea. Directly in front of the stairs is a large dock, where you will find a convention center, hotel, statues, exhibits, marina, and ship berths.

If you don't wish to walk back up the hill, you can take a free tram. It operates in both directions. Each of the two cars is manned by a person who has the most boring job in the world. Equivalent to an elevator attendant.

Back at the top of the Potempkin stairs, there is a tree-lined boulevard that runs along the edge of the hill. I'm sure it is beautiful in the summer with the green trees and flowers, but nobody wants to linger on this cold rainy day in December.

There is a two-level McDonald's immediately nextdoor to that fancy mall we had lunch in. We stopped in to warm up and have a snack before heading for the bus home. If you can read Russian letters, you will discover that they sound out many of our familiar English words on their menu. For example, in this picture, there is MкMеню for McMenu (MkMenyu), Чікен for Chicken (Chiken), Сандвічі for Sandwiches (Sandvichi), Фітнес for Fitness (Fitnes), and Десерти for Desserts (Deserti). If you point at something on the McMenu, it is what they call a Meal in the US. This is the only place we've been so far that has served ice in the drinks. One interesting thing here is they serve sundaes in edible cups. They are plastic in the US.


Ashley said...

Love this post. It brings back so many memories looking at the sights. I laughed when I saw the paint on the trees because every single tree (and post) has white paint on it at the bottoms. I never figured out why. Has anyone mentioned as to why they do this? I am sure there is an explanation.

Also, about the ice... people believe you will get a cold if you drink with ice in it. Several children that have been adopted think it's crazy that their family is having ice in their drinks. They tell them they will come down with a cold if they drink a cold drink. In their eyes, if they drink a cold drink they get sick, but they won't if they drink a warm drink. There are a lot of superstitions there. It definitely makes more sense about the water not being healthy. I finally get it..haha

Olya said...

I heard that they paint the tree trunks to protect them from bugs...hubby says it's ridiculous. I don't know about the posts (I know, I know I should have the answer since I am from there :)
Thanks for posting all those pictures, seeing them was a treat. Last time we were there the escalator by the stair didn't work so we had to take the stair (not fun, I was 6 months pregnant :)
About ice in drinks, most families drink tea (sometimes coffee) anyway, that way the water gets hot enough to kill anything that may be bad for you (not led, of cource, but it deals with bugs or so most people believe) so lack of ice is never an issue for a native

Janell said...

Our friends told us to order no ice at McDonalds too-the water reason. I could get Diet Coke there and that came in a bottle-I think it was Coke light or something like that.

Ashley said...

I actually thought it was maybe because of bugs, but when I saw it on light posts that was not made of wood, I thought maybe I was wrong...Thanks for the info!