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Author Topic: Odessa in Feb  (Read 5319 times)

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Offline gaspar227

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Odessa in Feb
« on: February 21, 2018, 06:08:20 PM »
Just got back Feb 19 from a week in Odessa.

Since I'm writing this after the trip I'll do my best to recount the high points.  I left Sunday 3:00 PM from Phoenix 2/11 and was home 2/19 at 11:30 PM

First off, before the trip.  I was meeting a girl from DMnotify who I had been chatting with/video/viber communicating with for about 2 months. 

In asking on here many times, it was recommended that if i wanted to make this something serious, I should plan to meet within the first 2 months or so regardless of the weather.  I also had many questions there were continually responded with by 'just go see for yourself'.  So having a long weekend to leverage and valentines day in the mix, I decided to book a trip!

I looked at the usual sites for travel and flight options were terrible.  Expensive, huge layovers.  I was going to lose almost 3 days in travel from my trip with 2 30 hour options or a 2x as expensive 23 hour option.  I had 8 days and that was unacceptable.  I knew that flights from LAX were cheaper so by doing a little searching i was able to get there and back for under $1000 and about 17 hours!  Including a nice LAX to Istanbul direct overnight flight. 

I then looked for places to stay.  I hit up Air BNB and asked my girl if she knew anything.  Now let me say she does not know anything about this sort of stuff.  Never been on a flight, if she's been to a hotel, it's not something she booked.  So she contacted a 'real estate' agent and found some pictures of what looked like a 20 year old apartment.  I had been encouraging her to look at the beautiful pictures on AIRBNB, but no luck.  She was convinced that these were all lies and that we would get there and there would be no apartment.  The hovel she found was going to cost $800 for the week.  The average AirBNB was under $300.  Deciding it was worth the risk, I told her to pick an AIRBNB one and just trust me.  She agreed as long as she could meet the owner prior to the trip.  We booked a highrise apartment with week discount for under $300. 

That's a lot of words I know, but the point is you gotta shop.  And the mistrust of her own country was getting funny at this point.  Is Odessa really that bad I'm thinking??  So 6 weeks out I have everything booked for a week in Odessa on an 18th floor luxury apartment for less than $1500. 

Week before we packed my bag.  My girl was awestruck that I don't own a coat.  My warmest shirt was a flannel. I packed what I could with the promise that first thing Tuesday morning we would hit 7KM for a 'parka'. 

The day of the trip, I'm ready to go.  Get a lyft to the airport and i check the monitor for my gate.  I realize at this moment -- 5 minutes in -- that I have left my phone in the car.  Now, try and figure out how to get your phone back -- without a phone and with a plane leaving in 1.5 hours.  The best I could do was get to myverizon web text, text my daughter to get my phone from the lyft driver and begin to try and turn my rooted 4 year old kindle fire I brought for solitaire on the plane for my only link to the internet.  I was going wifi only for the next 8 days.

Flight on time, hit LAX and try to find wifi.  I was able to get viber up and contact my girl trying to explain that I have only wifi as I logged into the dutyfree wireless at the bradley terminal at LAX (boingo doesn't work there) and told her and my daughter so far so good. 

Get on the flight to Istanbul, everything is great.  window seat, neck pillow, excitement.  Turkish airlines is awesome.  I forget that some airlines still honor international free booze -- so this is a pleasant surprise.  There are nice meals, a goody bag with a blackout mask.  Catch some sleep.  Good time.  I bought the internet and was able to chat almost the whole trip.   

I get to Istanbul, transfer plane to Odessa, but cannot use the wifi at the airport -- requires sms verification.  So the last 4 hours before my arrival i have no internet.  Get to Odessa..I'm slightly worried about customs.  Nice looking guy, barely looks at me, i hand passport, and .... I'm in Ukraine.  That's it?  Carry-on bag...I exit.  But ... my girl isn't there.  I look and look.  I'm lucky, wifi works -- I'm getting looks from cabbies  "you sure you don't need a ride?"  they are smirking.  I'm getting worried.  I get on viber, and she says she's there, but she was at the other door!  yay...first hurdles past 20 hours or so and things are good -- here she is in the flesh!  she's a little standoffish, but i mean it was weird.  She tells me a cab is on the way, but we're attacked by a cabbie.  He wants $40 to go to the apartment.  (that's more than a night there).  She laughs, they have pleasant chitchat (which I later find out they were cussing each other out).  We get a cab finally...and it ends up being $7 for the ride.  I had brought $500 cash with me and I changed $200 into Rivnas along the way.  Still, this was a good lesson. 

To the apartment we go (i had booked it on Sunday for her to 'settle in' Marina was really cool gave her the keys). 
I've spent a ton of time in Mexico, and I'm looking at Ukraine thinking this is almost the same feel.  The faces are different, but the expressions the same, the streets, buildings, same state of disrepair.  It's sad and comforting at the same time.  It was not unfamiliar.  Except the cold.  It wasn't a biting cold or even an uncomfortable cold so much as just an ever present chill.  I could handle this.  My girl was mortified by my flannel.  "you are naked" I will go to 7KM without you in the morning and buy you a coat.  Um....no.  But it was cute. 

Apartment is great, 18th floor.  Nice view, very clean.  She had made some crepes and homemade jelly from some kind of fruit, some fried chicken.  This was pretty great.  We made nice, things were on track.  First day in Odessa to come in the AM!




« Last Edit: February 21, 2018, 06:10:53 PM by gaspar227 »

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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2018, 06:33:28 PM »
Thanks for the report gaspar.  I am an old timer, and in the old days we avoided Odessa because of the higher potential for deceitful women.  However, a woman who has never flown is likely in the "innocent" and not the "scammer" category.  Also, a scammer would have arranged a flat herself (and profited from the deal) or did she try that with the $800 hovel?   

Even though this is your first trip, you seemed to have planned well, and your girl is a big help such as insisting on checking out the flat.  The homemade jam and fried chicken are good signs. 

Two questions:
    1.  Most men when meeting their FSUW for the first time have a reaction built up from months of chatting.  Why are you so indifferent?

    2.  Do you still believe Ukraine resembles Mexico?  The friendliness  of the people on the streets is so different.   

Offline I/O

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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2018, 06:35:10 PM »
Oh Man, Turkish Airlines, Istanbul, Odessa Airport, Customs, Smirking Cabbies, trying to contact your intended, this is chapter and verse my experience 13 or 14 years ago with the only difference being I launched from Au, you launched from USA. Just ridiculously similar even down to the very good red wine on Turkish airlines, not to mention the smoking hot Trolley Dollys...


And, yes it did feel remarkably similar to Mexico in the first instance.

Offline gaspar227

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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2018, 06:44:50 PM »
Two questions:
    1.  Most men when meeting their FSUW for the first time have a reaction built up from months of chatting.  Why are you so indifferent?

    2.  Do you still believe Ukraine resembles Mexico?  The friendliness  of the people on the streets is so different.   

1.  I was keeping it more of a trip report.  There was a little awkwardness at first then things were very much the opposite of indifferent! 

2. It looks nothing like Mexico, but the atmosphere did.  Right down to going to Arcadia and seeing the beaches -- although cold -- I could envision spring break in Cabo!

Offline gaspar227

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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2018, 06:48:56 PM »
Also, a scammer would have arranged a flat herself (and profited from the deal) or did she try that with the $800 hovel?   
 

Thought crossed my mind, but after meeting her, this is just not her game.  She is just very mistrustful of anything she cannot connect to someone she can trust. 

PS.  i'm trying to figure out this forum as I go.  I will somehow figure out how to add a few pictures, but not having my phone hugely hampered this.  I have some from a camera I brought for her (action cam), some from my crappy tablet and some from her Iphone 4 (!!)  I missed my LG G5 :(

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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2018, 06:54:06 PM »
Oh Man, Turkish Airlines, Istanbul, Odessa Airport, Customs, Smirking Cabbies, trying to contact your intended, this is chapter and verse my experience 13 or 14 years ago with the only difference being I launched from Au, you launched from USA. Just ridiculously similar even down to the very good red wine on Turkish airlines, not to mention the smoking hot Trolley Dollys...


Remarkable.  Should we tell gaspar that you married someone from Siberia, with whom you have built a life full of love, children....everything in living the dream. 

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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2018, 06:59:27 PM »
Thought crossed my mind, but after meeting her, this is just not her game.  She is just very mistrustful of anything she cannot connect to someone she can trust. 

Such an attitude is typical for FSUW.  They are born skeptics.


Quote
PS.  i'm trying to figure out this forum as I go.  I will somehow figure out how to add a few pictures, but not having my phone hugely hampered this.  I have some from a camera I brought for her (action cam), some from my crappy tablet and some from her Iphone 4 (!!)  I missed my LG G5 :(

Everyone loves photos.

Offline gaspar227

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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2018, 07:02:03 PM »
Maybe these pictures worked. 
« Last Edit: February 21, 2018, 07:27:33 PM by gaspar227 »

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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2018, 07:04:15 PM »
Remarkable.  Should we tell gaspar that you married someone from Siberia, with whom you have built a life full of love, children....everything in living the dream.
Gator, can I just say two things, The Odessa meet could have just as easily been the Siberian meet - she was lovely, but if I was really frank, it was too early for me and I just wasn't ready and secondly, you make my story sound much more romantic than it probably is - we've had our ups and downs.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2018, 07:06:22 PM by I/O »

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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2018, 07:50:59 PM »
...you make my story sound much more romantic than it probably is - we've had our ups and downs.

With that many kids to manage, the schedule is so full that romance sometimes has to take a backseat.  Then the magic happens....

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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2018, 07:55:29 PM »



Gaspar, looks like you got a nice bird's eye view of the city. Thank for sharing.
There are people that will pass info about you and your family. Do not share info about yourself or share photos as they can search for you on the internet and distribute what they found since they are allowed to participate here.

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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2018, 07:58:51 PM »
Gaspar, looks like you got a nice bird's eye view of the city. Thank for sharing.
Yes indeed..!!

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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2018, 03:56:38 AM »
Yaaay!

a trip report and an actual subject for this board.. no Trump nor guns..

Keep it up gaspar  :clapping:  can't wait to read the rest  :popcorn:
Going to Odessa myself in a couple of weeks (for March 8 )
« Last Edit: February 22, 2018, 09:17:00 AM by Nightwish »
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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2018, 08:41:12 AM »
Sounds just like some of my trips over to Odesa. Turkish Air was usually one of the shortest and most affordable airlines for me.

If you make another trip over have your girl contact the Airbnb hosts. Ukrainians can haggle the price down even lower and arrange to pay them outside the website. That will usually cut another 20% or so.

The taxi's at airport are run by mafia. They will rape you on price. Should not be more than 4-10 bucks in Uber anywhere in the city.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2018, 08:42:54 AM by alex330 »

Offline gaspar227

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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2018, 12:48:23 PM »
Yes, i noticed the prices on taxis was another fun game.  If you were walking and cold, 10 blocks was 80 rivnas, if you called a couple and they knew it, downtown to the airport (10x as far) was 80 Rivnas. 

Unfortunately as I said she has an iphone 4 that runs ios 7...and NO apps will run on this hardware!  I actually had to setup her appstore as she had no idea about it.  She bought it from a magazine she said like 6 years ago for $10000 rivnas or something.  She said it had Viber already on it (old unsupported version can't even take incoming calls) and she's cool with it. 

This coupled with my leaving my phone meant no uber.  I really thought I could get it on her phone and blow her mind with it...but nope (f apple).  Uber is still just a bunch of me finger pointing and google translating to try and explain it to her.  She's like 'just call the taxi company -- stupid American making things difficult'.

Next time I come I'll upgrade my phone and just give her my 'old' LG G5.  I'll also buy a used laptop for $100 and bring it to replace the 25GB notebook she has LOL (it couldn't apply security updates because it was full and there was almost nothing on it). 

I was so frustrated trying to get anything to work, even just downloading the pictures off the camera i brought fr her was impossible given the technology she has.  The micro SD card for the camera was almost 3X the harddrive on her notebook!  She likes it better than other computers because it's blue....LOL.

We went to 7KM for a parka and my girl wasn't a good haggler to say the least.  I think she's just not used to high ticket items or something because she was good with the taxi.  It's a great 'America Style' parka though, i'm happy with it.  $100 bucks though. 

I think the price was very good on the AirBNB.  If I wanted to use same place I think I could just haggle the owner down myself though :)

I only mention this stuff because for me, this is the kind of information about the state of the country I was looking to understand.  I mean she's not a heavy technology person, but she knows design software like photoshop etc.  She's not a technophobe and this was just beyond me what her tools are like.  I have like 6 laptops collecting dust around the house that are nicer (although bulky which she doesn't like) than this thing she uses every day.

Offline JayH

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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #15 on: February 22, 2018, 01:08:24 PM »
Ukrainian  UAH hryvnia   pronounced as grivna  or greevna
SLAVA UKRAYINI  ! HEROYAM SLAVA!!!!
Слава Украине! Слава героям слава!Слава Україні! Слава героям!
 translated as: Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!!!  is a Ukrainian greeting slogan being used now all over Ukraine to signify support for a free independent Ukraine

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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #16 on: February 22, 2018, 01:24:41 PM »
grivna is a Russification.

hryvna - one unit of currency

hryvne - more than one unit of currency

Unlike Russian, Ukrainian has two distinct sounds - "г" and "ґ".  Russians have, in general terms, a soft "g" sound, and a hard "g" sound (there are more than two, depending on the vowel preceding or following the "g", but non native speakers will generally only hear the soft and hard "g" sounds).  In its Russification of the Ukrainian language, the Soviets removed the "ґ" from the Ukrainian alphabet.  After the collapse. the original Ukrainian alphabet was restored.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2018, 05:10:49 AM by Boethius »
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Offline gaspar227

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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #17 on: February 22, 2018, 01:45:09 PM »
yeah, my Russian is bad.  Still, it was fun having $500 bills but they equaled about a $20.  Like the guy in the Kiev post below, they will haggle over 100 hryvne. 

We ran out of toilet paper in the apartment close to the last day.  I went to the Magazine and picked out a 4 pack that was 30-40 hryvne or something.  She wanted to just get a little pack of tissue paper that was 10 hryvne  because we couldn't possibly use 4 roles.  I'm like, I'll eat the $.50 and have a roll thank you very much!  She just couldn't understand it, kept replacing it in the cart until I just told her no!

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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #18 on: February 22, 2018, 02:28:13 PM »
That looms like a damn nice apartment for 300 a week. Mine is Siberia I rented ran about $225 for 8-10 days in It was a remodeled 2 room flat in the old Soviet style apartments. Comfy but small. That was 10 years ago after we got married I was welcome to stay with the MIL. I would have been all over an apartment like that had it been available.

Your lady is quite the cutie. How did you two coexist?

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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #19 on: February 22, 2018, 05:17:33 PM »
Yes, i noticed the prices on taxis was another fun game.  If you were walking and cold, 10 blocks was 80 rivnas, if you called a couple and they knew it, downtown to the airport (10x as far) was 80 Rivnas. 

Unfortunately as I said she has an iphone 4 that runs ios 7...and NO apps will run on this hardware!  I actually had to setup her appstore as she had no idea about it.  She bought it from a magazine she said like 6 years ago for $10000 rivnas or something.  She said it had Viber already on it (old unsupported version can't even take incoming calls) and she's cool with it. 

This coupled with my leaving my phone meant no uber.  I really thought I could get it on her phone and blow her mind with it...but nope (f apple).  Uber is still just a bunch of me finger pointing and google translating to try and explain it to her.  She's like 'just call the taxi company -- stupid American making things difficult'.

Next time I come I'll upgrade my phone and just give her my 'old' LG G5.  I'll also buy a used laptop for $100 and bring it to replace the 25GB notebook she has LOL (it couldn't apply security updates because it was full and there was almost nothing on it). 

I was so frustrated trying to get anything to work, even just downloading the pictures off the camera i brought fr her was impossible given the technology she has.  The micro SD card for the camera was almost 3X the harddrive on her notebook!  She likes it better than other computers because it's blue....LOL.

We went to 7KM for a parka and my girl wasn't a good haggler to say the least.  I think she's just not used to high ticket items or something because she was good with the taxi.  It's a great 'America Style' parka though, i'm happy with it.  $100 bucks though. 

You'll find if you do so neither of you will have phones that will work, its a real pain but pretty much all western networks don't work out there. So you'll need to at least buy a new sim over there for one of the Ukrainian networks. Odds are you might as well buy a new phone there as will depend if sim works with your phone so probably not worth the fuss. Its what I intend to do when I'm next out that way later this year as otherwise stuff like whatapp will only work in Apartment/Hotel where there is broadband internet. Surfice to say it can no doubt save a fair few quid I would imagine as like you say you could then call Uber up though even this I tried in Moscow at the hotel and I didn't seem to have much luck. Its handy being with a local girl as she can call taxi's at a much reduced rate than you would otherwise pay on the taxi rank so the saving would have been comparable with Uber I would think.

The taxi rank outside Odessa airport in my opinion is worse even than Kiev, they really try it on so your girl did you a favour being there - i.e they tried to charge me nearly twice as much as the taxi's from Kiev Boryspil for half the distance to city centre. The unofficial taxi's are little better and best avoided though is not always easy at first to determine who's who.

I found with the last girl I was with that they don't seem to understand higher ticket price stuff that well, I'm not really sure what is going on here, its kind of strange that they seem to have little money management idea when those sort of prices crop up. Possibly they don't deal with those sort of prices often or something maybe.

I'm not really sure a lot of stuff in Ukraine is much cheaper than the UK (or perhaps US, etc) I think this is because internet shopping like Amazon has not really caught on there as much/high street retailers competing with the internet, so theirs more profit lumped onto single high street items. That and the economy/lower population may mean shops have to look to make their profit of single item sales rather than a smaller profit of a lot of item sales. That's the thing I don't think the girl I was last with understood that there's this kind of benefit of Amazon thing that you don't seem to get in Ukraine. I think most local probably hit the markets and get stuff cheaper/second hand there.

Main question though, was there chemistry or just a nice friendly companionship?   
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Offline gaspar227

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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #20 on: February 22, 2018, 05:49:15 PM »
Day 1 (or 2 depending on if you count arrival day)

I was happy to wake up and eat cold chicken and nalisnyky filled with homemade jam -- I believe it was quince and walnuts. 

I was also happy because things were going very well with my girl.  We made it to the 24 hour magazine 100 yards from the apartment that evening and bought a 2.4 liter ukranian beer. 

My girl tried to sneak out to buy me a parka, but I would not have any of it.  She agreed that if we went quickly she'd let me come with her!  She's funny.  So we grabbed a cab because we had slept in until 10 and she indicated we needed to be their early.  I didn't get any pictures of 7KM live but here's a cool link:

http://www.tic.in.ua/?page_id=4705&lang=en

And basically it's a huge swap meet. 

Here's my American Parka -- she knew the store to go to and i'm lucky I went because it was basically the biggest one they had -- she would have gotten a smaller cheaper one:



After we got some Kruchenyky we got on the public bus to go back downtown.  It was a bit cramped, but cost 14 hrivna for the 2 of us ($.60).

So now we just wandered around Went to a local catholic church and an orthodox church.  Some pics from the Catholic church:



She told me that this was a gymnasium when they were in the USSR, now it's been restored. 

We also walked to Deribasovskaya Street, she told me various stories about places and people.  This guy was a singer or something L. Utesov.  His nose is shiny, for some reason people rub his nose.



She sent me this link today in case you want to see live cams:

http://od.vgorode.ua/news/obzory/214762-odessa-onlain-vse-vebkamery-horoda

We ended back in the apartment, chicken and crepes again, beer from the magazine.  Beautiful woman, happy times.  Life is pretty good!



In general the weather was mostly overcast/light snow/rain at times.  Day time 2 C  nighttime around -1/0.  So the weather was decent and walkable.  We walked most of the time. 












Offline gaspar227

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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #21 on: February 22, 2018, 06:01:34 PM »
Main question though, was there chemistry or just a nice friendly companionship?

At this point things are really good, but we were still settling in.  It was definitely not just friendly companionship :), but we still left the apartment and walked quite a bit on day 1/2. 

You'll find if you do so neither of you will have phones that will work, its a real pain but pretty much all western networks don't work out there. So you'll need to at least buy a new sim over there for one of the Ukrainian networks. Odds are you might as well buy a new phone there as will depend if sim works with your phone so probably not worth the fuss.

I was definitely supposing you'd need a new SIM, most of the top tier phones have like 3-4 modes they run so I'm pretty confident the G5 would work there.  It's better than the $40 credit I would get for it!

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  • Status: Looking 1-2 years
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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #22 on: February 22, 2018, 06:16:12 PM »
That looms like a damn nice apartment for 300 a week. Mine is Siberia I rented ran about $225 for 8-10 days in It was a remodeled 2 room flat in the old Soviet style apartments. Comfy but small. That was 10 years ago after we got married I was welcome to stay with the MIL. I would have been all over an apartment like that had it been available.

Your lady is quite the cutie. How did you two coexist?

Here's more pictures of the apartment since you asked.  Was very nice apartment!

More to come about the coexist, but things are amazing so far. 

Offline gaspar227

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  • Status: Looking 1-2 years
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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #23 on: February 22, 2018, 06:17:34 PM »
anyone help with keeping the pictures the right way up?  they don't show like that in my editor.

Offline JayH

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  • Status: Looking > 5 years
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Re: Odessa in Feb
« Reply #24 on: February 22, 2018, 06:51:48 PM »
A couple of points --
Apartment will be considerably cheaper in February compared to say July .
There is quite a lot of not bad accommodation available in Odessa --with quite a lot in the newish category.

The 7KM Market is  only a "swap meet" in the context of swapping your cash for goods !!
There may be some bartering done in very specific areas -- but hardly visible to most.
This is a huge and famous market -- everything from relative bargains to rip off's on offer! Generally speaking - on any given item you are looking for you can see quite a good range across the price range by looking around.

This type of market is all over Ukraine --from small localised type size to the core of the city .


Also "but pretty much all western networks don't work out there"  -- 100% rubbish ( again) If you have the right home plan and your phone is compatible -- it WILL work !
However- the smart thing to do is buy a local sim that gives you data and calls -- the cost is minimal by western standards . 200/300 UAH which  $10 ish will cover a month -- and is super easy to top up. The cost of the sim is very small amount .
My phones are all dual sim( I have one phone that takes 4 sims) at least and all my sims work in Ukraine.Those sims come from numerous countries  .
Using  the WiFi that is accessible free in many places keeps data usage down -- and using Viber,What's App, etc to make calls keeps call cost to any network down.

Of course -it helps if you don't lose your phone !! ;D
« Last Edit: February 22, 2018, 07:21:47 PM by JayH »
SLAVA UKRAYINI  ! HEROYAM SLAVA!!!!
Слава Украине! Слава героям слава!Слава Україні! Слава героям!
 translated as: Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!!!  is a Ukrainian greeting slogan being used now all over Ukraine to signify support for a free independent Ukraine

 

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