From Baltic to the Black Sea #8

Glorious Odessa
7 September 1999

Dear Friends,

After 4 days of wonderful Crimea, I have just arrived in Odessa on an overnight train. I have shared my 4-person cabin with an amorous young Moldovan-Ukrainian couple who spent half the time in each other’s arms, and who would no doubt have gone further with their affections if not for my presence…

Odessa was founded by the Russians 200 years ago and quickly became the most important port of the Russian Empire. Its wealth, glorious past and cosmopolitan nature are reflected in the grand 19th C and early 20th C architecture. It boasts many fine buildings, leafy streets, statues and public sculptures by European masters, and a magnificent opera house equal to Viennese standards, at least from the pix I have seen – I will find out later today. In fact, I was amazed by the Railway Station the moment I stepped out of the train – its neo-classical columns and statues, as well as chandeliers and more – reminded me more of Vienna and Paris than of Ukraine and Russia.

Today, apart from the usual touristy stuff that I do all the time, I will visit my friend Tanya Borovik, who runs a travel agency. Tomorrow, I will, again, get up at a leisurely 4:30am, so as to fly to Chisinau (or Kishinev in Russian), capital of the Republic of Moldova. After that most enjoyable flight on Belavia of Belarus, I am anxious to try Air Moldova International, another of the “Baby Flot” successor airlines of good old Aeroflot.

OK, forgive me for my grumbling and nonsensical monologue. Bye and take care!

Wee Cheng