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Worldtrip a 45 year old's adventures around the world-which include everything from sitting in random McDonalds using his notebook, hanging with 22 year olds, and other immature stuff.

I'll Clean My Nose if You Take a Shower

UKRAINE | Friday, 23 October 2015 | Views [345]

I have never been accused of being a quick learner. Often times, I have needed teachers or professors to repeat things in order for me to understand.  I have learned to ask questions and that is how I made it through school, from Kindergarten to my Masters degree. I am curious about everywhere I visit, and that is why I like to find someone to ask questions to.


I enjoy walking tours because they allow me to interact with the guide. About 50-70% of the guides I have come across didn't appear to like me-because they we're probably prepared to say their spiel which they have done a thousand times, and have their audience slavishly nodding or laughing, depending on the context. To have someone come and ask  questions, some times asking the guide to repeat him/herself, or go over a point I missed-probably messes up his/her program.


That said, 30-50% genuinely seem to enjoy a visitor interacting with them, and are happy someone appears interested enough to ask questions rather then just blindly following the guide.


Yesterday, I left Babushka's hostel to go on a walking tour I found online. I didn't think it would be that cold. so I didn't wear socks-(just boxers, shirt, sweatshirt, jacket, pants, and sandals on my feet). When I got outside, I found it to be colder then I thought (prob low 40's) Actually I Found two walking tours:  


(1) One was free according to the website-put pictures haven't been updated for about  2 years (normally pictures are posted of each tour group just about every day), and no comments on Tripadvisor have been posted, once again for 2 years. So I assumed this wasn't going on any longer.


(2)  The other was a  paid tour for about 15 euro (Big bucks in the Ukraine)-but met  at 10:00 in front of a fountain downtown, and seemed to still be going on. So I went there-but no-it wasn't going on. I was the only one there, period.. No walking tour.


So I wandered around downtown-past the Russian style buildings, to more French and Italian inspired buildings and found an extended golf cart, with plastic windows to keep out the cold (one that seats approx. 10 people) doing one hour tours. I figured I would do this one, so I  can gain insight into the city.  A 50ish to 60ish something heavy women, who was evidently  the tour guide sat in the seat next to me and told me about Odessa. She also told me to get some socks for my feet, and tissues for my nose, since it kept running, as it does in the cold(she gave me some tissues-I live in a warm climate so I no longer see cold that often).  Since I was the only one on the cart, the driver waited about 20  minutes or so to see if anyone else would come along. I learned a few things: 

(1) This woman smelled like she badly needed a shower.

(2) The woman didn't like questions. She had her spiel and was going to stick to it verbatim.

(3) That Odessa was won from the Ottoman empire in 1791 in one of the Russian-Turkish wars, because it was a port on the Black Sea which the Russian's wanted. (Russia was originally landlocked-until they won St. Petersberg on the Baltic Sea-now they wanted a port on the Black Sea)

(4) Odessa was called "Little America", because people from all over Europe we're invited to settle here, and we're even given land. It seems like Russia wanted to fortify Odessa as a place for import and export.

After 20 minutes, of sitting and smelling this lady, the golf cart finally went along the path. I also learned that a poet named Alexander Pushkin was exiled to Odessa because his poetry was too racy for Moscow and St. Petersburg, and we passed by his house.


About 10 minutes since the golf cart started moving, it stopped and another golf cart pulled up behind us.  Two Russian people got out and joined us in the golf cart. This was bad because I no longer had the guide to myself, who I could ask questions where she would get annoyed at answering. Additionally, the guide now spoke very fast English for me and Russian for them. But it was also good because the guide sat in the very front seat and the Russian couple sat in the seat behind her (I was behind the Russian couple), so I no-longer had to smell  the guide.


We went to various other sites, including the Potemkin staircase, which was made as an entrance to Odessa from the low-lying port, and the Duke de Richileau monument-the first mayor of the city.


 This woman kept pointing out things in very quick English-then moving on to Russian for the others. She was probably relieved there wouldn't be any more questions from  me since she never seemed to breathe-just spoke English and Russian,  English and Russian.   Eventually we came to an old covered shopping mall from the early part of the century, really a covered walkway with stores, and she mentioned that was the end point of the tour. She told me to go a drug store and get tissues. (I wanted to say as long as you come with me and buy deodorant).


After the tour, I went to another mall and had lunch, fish, a lot of potatoes, three salads and a huge iced tea for $6.00-and walked back to the hostel. I went to a giant open-air market along the way, looked around, and bought some muffins. 


I then went to the hostel-it was very late afternoon when I got back. I asked the lady here about the train to Kiev, so  I took the 5 minute walk to the station to buy a ticket, and came back and stayed in the rest of the night. My friend from the train who is staying  here cooked a mushroom and rice dish and he invited me to have some, so I did.  While I was eating, the cat at the hostel tried to eat off my plate (others might not like that-but that makes me feel like home-since I have had cats for nearly 20 years) . We stayed around talking the rest of the evening, and drank a little beer.

Tags: odessa, ukraine

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