Barefoot in Odessa
Sometimes you're just walking down the street and 'twang', there goes your shoe...and it has to be said that walking barefoot in Odessa - or indeed in any city - gets you some curious looks.
So I hitched a ride from the Film Festival back into town and found myself realising that if there's ever a city I could leave my heart in, it's this one. I've never felt so surrounded by such wonderful architecture, such kindness or by such gentle, sincere and genuinely funny people.
Odessa, if I were wearing a hat I would raise it to you.
Saw two very different and fascinating films: last night 'The Best Offer' & this afternoon the Ukrainian film Paradjanov. Film festivals are great!
Anyway, off to explore & buy flip flops before tonight's gig...
on lost luggage and piles of watermelons
Arrived at Odessa airport to be ushered into what looked like a large, plastic conservatory. This was the luggage collection room-or more accurately, the luggage scrum. Rather like a jumble sale where passengers fight to upgrade to that very desirable samsonite bag before it's been located by its owner.
A surprisingly irate woman official oversaw the whole process by waving her arms and shouting in Ukrainian. Whatever it is that she wanted us to do, it was clear we weren't doing it.
At this point we realised that some...in fact all...of our luggage was missing... There ensued a long wait to fill in forms followed by a swift car ride across town from the airport to the hotel with Andrey, our lovely festival chaperone who had met us at the airport.
Languorous bodies rested against cars in the warm night air and talked and smoked on street corners where huge piles of watermelons lay in late night market stalls, manned by bored looking melon sellers. Neon Cyrillic blared out from the corners of buildings and beautiful but haughty women picked their high-heeled way across pitted tram tracks. By the time we reached the hotel I'd already given my heart to Odessa.
Grand, palatial buildings with wedding cake icing sugar stucco line tree-bordered streets in the town centre. Fairy-lit plane trees and urns of delicate flowers give onto streets where flower sellers in outrageous princess dresses parade between horse-drawn tourist carriages. There's a delicious anarchy to the street scammers who have set up contraptions to raise money by challenging passers by to hang from their arms or capture wine bottles with fishing rods & win 200 hryvnia.
We found a street-side restaurant on the main street that was playing Louis Armstrong. The berry & cinnamon liquor & birch lemonade are particularly good.
One thing that can be said for having only the clothes you stand up in: never stuck for what to wear to the festival after party. We headed out at gone midnight to find a room full of live music & an enthusiastic crowd - Wednesday's stage for us - before walking back to the hotel.
We failed to find the sea or the Potemkin steps, but it's true that these things are probably easier to find in the daylight.
As for the missing bags? Quiet Loner has a theory that Fritz, my bruiser of a 1960s guitar I picked up in Denmark last year, led a rebellion amongst our baggage in Kiev and is currently heading for the German border...
I hope not. We have a gig to play.
Airborne: somewhere between Kiev & Odessa, 15.07.13
Some time around 8pm...
The day has two midnights: always make sure you pick the right one.
It's a horrible feeling to wake up and realise the midnight flight you were packing for has been and gone and that the other people on that flight are already in Odessa, Ukraine: which is where you should be...
It's a good thing that Ilya, Andrey & Julia who booked us to play at the Odessa International Film Festival are patient.
So...our flights were changed...Aside from a late-running plane and changing terminals at break-neck speed in Kiev, all has gone well so far. Still hoping our guitars had as good a journey as we did-we'll find out in Odessa.
The unsettling and highly amusing experience of suddenly understanding absolutely nothing- not even the alphabet-is worth the journey in itself. Surreal doesn't quite cover it...