We have now been in Odessa for over a week – time to take stock.
It is not so easy to find the adjectives that describe the city well from our point of view: Beautiful? Yes. Relaxed? In any case. Vivacious? Yes, but like the first two terms, an inflationary word, where everyone has their own idea of what is behind it. In a coffee store in the sun we discuss. And Wolfgang comes up with “peaceful”.
And that is exactly what it is.
Odessa is a peaceful city. Of course there are fast and big cars, but almost without exception everyone stops as soon as someone sets foot in the crosswalk. We see many children with relaxed parents: little grumbling and stress. But our favorite story happens on a Sunday in a big park: it’s election Sunday, lots going on. Many families with baby carriages, scooters, walkers. Also electric scooters drive at walking pace through the park, they are allowed to do that here (in electric mobility Ukraine is far ahead of us, but that is another matter). We are sitting on a bench when a Harley rider passes us a little faster than walking speed. A man with a baby carriage stands in his way. The Harley rider steers to the right, the man takes two steps backwards and does not let him pass. Still with a baby carriage in front of him. The Harley driver stops the engine, takes off his helmet, a young, long-haired guy. The two talk. Quietly. No arguing. Exchange of arguments. It ends with the stroller man moving on and the Harley rider starting and turning his machine. The path is slightly sloping and after a few meters the Harley rider turns off the engine again and reaches the adjacent parking lot rolling quietly. And leaves us fascinated. What a culture of argument.
Beyond peaceful, of course, much more can be said: splendid house fronts (although sometimes severely neglected); sometimes “wild” road surfaces or interesting solutions, with which holes in streets and sidewalks are filled (we have seen everything from rubble, stones, pieces of wood, to complete wooden boxes); a lot of art and culture, a lot of statues – and opera tickets are cheap. We saw park benches shaped like open books, and the “12th chair” (a bronze chair that plays the leading role in a Ukrainian book classic).
Of course we like the many coffee stores or the countless coffee stands at the roadsides and parks, most of them even have real strainer machines.
And I am happy to find soy milk in a supermarket again.