My first visit to Odessa – I’d been to Ukraine before, but never to the Black Sea Coast.  It was summertime after all, what better to do than spend 5 or 6 days at the beach on a work break?  As I had been studying Russian a bit, I thought that this would be a great opportunity to practice a bit.

In hindsight, I really should have taken more photos.  But, this was a holiday for relaxation, not necessarily a trip for the sake of travel.  I realize now that I didn’t take a single photo at the beach, but heck, who wants to babysit a camera when swimming in the ocean?  And so, each day, I walked to the beach from my hotel, did some running, a little cross-fit (push-ups and pull-ups) and got a little sun.  The beaches were just covered with beautiful (and fit) Ukranian girls and sadly, I don’t have one photo to post.  LOL

In the photo above is the Saint Panteleimon Cathedral and Monastery.  Built in 1876, it served as a resting point for religious pilgrims traveling to the holy places: Constantinople and Jerusalem.  It is just across the street a few hundred meters from the Odessa train station (below).  Both are a two dollar cab ride, a .15 cent trolley ride or a 20 minute walk from the “walking street” district with its prominent McDonalds restaurant and park.

The train station (voksal) is a good meeting place and had a large square in the front and a nice park across the street.  In the square are vendors of all kinds and you can find a nice lunch or a snack.  Looking through my photos, I see two Ukrainian couples that are typical of what you might see on a summer day.  Everyone is always asking, “Are the Ukrainian girls as beautiful as we have heard”?  In answer, “Yes.  Yes they are.”  It’s not that American women are not beautiful, they are just 10 or 20 kilos larger (on average) than Ukrainian women.  Oh, and the Ukrainian women glam it up every day.  High heels, mini-skirts, makeup and jewelry are common every day sights.  You won’t ever see a girl in jeans and a t-shirt.  Ukrainian women are all about feminine beauty and it’s almost a competition between them.

For the men, the dress is definitely European except for the tell-tale Russian “bowl” haircut that is so popular in the East Block and the Balkans.  Many Ukrainian men (actually many E-block men) cut their bangs straight across, and, you actually see this hair style with a lot of women.  I often see men wearing – what I call E-block “bowling shirts” – like the man on the right is wearing.  At the night clubs, shiny long sleeve “pimp” shirts (like you would see in the movie Night at the Roxbury) are the norm.

The Ukrainian people have a mixed look; some appear a bit Mediterranean (even Latin or Middle East looking), some look Slavic (traditional Russian looking), and some look Germanic or Nordic.  It is interesting as some people have a mix of different “looks,” and I wonder from where their ancestors originated.  What is always surprising is the large number of green-eyed people here.  The most blue eyes I ever saw were in Croatia, in Ukraine, a large portion of the population is blue, hazel but there are so many with green eyes…

So, back to women’s fashions.  I was having breakfast on my balcony when I spotted this woman across the street at in a commercial parking lot.  I thought I’d capture her photo as she is “all Ukrainian” in her dress.  I mean, get a load of those high heels!  Can you imagine a woman in America dressing like this just to go to market?  Again and again, I noticed how the women here take some time and make the extra effort to look feminine.  It was a refreshing look after the baggy sweats and “frumpy” look that we seem to have embraced in the west.


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