№3. Walks around Odesa

June 12, 2022
June 12, 2022

Last autumn we walked around half-empty streets of Odesa after the high season. Looking around closely we saw a lot of urban topics to talk about in our dairies.

01

So, Odesa. Let’s start with inhabitants, who are the favorites of the Internet — kitties!

This is the cat sculpture, that lays on Mikhail Zhvanetsky’s bag near the World-wide club of odesits.

There are a lot of cats in Odesa, it’s hard to skip that fact. Maybe the reason for it is the warm climate or odesits’ attitude, but there are a lot of cats, especially in comparison with Kharkiv. The city has got comfy places for these cats. People craft little cat houses with quaint colors and shapes. There are both easy-built houses, and some are artsy and inventive.

We googled a bit and discovered the 500k hryvna project for building “Cat-cottages” and “Dog-cottages” 2 years ago. It is an initiative of cat and dog lovers of Odesa. As a result, 48 cat houses and 8 dog houses were built. 3 years before that, the city had admitted cats and dogs were a part of the ecosystem, so now citizens are responsible for them. Some cat-cottages we saw on the streets were made by people who live or work nearby. They keep houses clean and feed animals.

02

In Odesa’s expedition we decided to investigate one old yard in the historic region of the city.

Our acknowledgment of the living place began with one dark arch from Velyka Arnautska street. The yard is isolated by a metal fence with a magnet key. There are tacky postboxes and a bunch of ads on the walls.

Inside we saw a small courtyard and five entrances. Three downstairs to the basement. Recreation spot in the yard center is made of wooden pallets: a table and two benches. And a small tree nearby. Also, a spot for smokers — a bench with an ashtray near the entrance. A basketball ring for ball games. A spot for feeding cats. Some flowerpots. Some typical concrete trash cans. Music is playing somewhere, somebody is chatting on the phone loudly and ravens are cawing on Rishelyevska street. We were really glad to see this yard because we wanted to have it when we chose a place to stay on booking. The lessor promised us a busy yard with a lot of hustle to see.

During the week we spent time day by day in this yard. On average, an hour per day: we drew, measured place by steps, sat over details, took photos, played with a ball. No one paid attention, neighbours didn’t care a lot about us. Maybe, they got used to strangers at their place. Some of them didn’t greet us, some just nodded their heads. We haven’t seen how local kids use this place. People there just walked to their homes. Only the smoking lady often went down, or sat on the bench, or stood by the open door. And one old man went to feed the cats.

In our opinion, the yard wasn’t so lively because of the weather. It’s +15 C, so nobody wanted to spend time there. However, some details could tell stories. For example, we found a funny clock on the wall, it shows ‘Indian summer’ time. Also, our entrance looks like a part of the yard because it is full of kid toys to play outside. What is curious, locals protect themselves from birds: some balconies are equipped with the net, some air conditioners are covered with reflective sheets (it is cut in the back side to make noise). There is a wooden cut sign ‘Homestead’ on the facade. It seems we failed the yard investigation there. Otherwise, there is no evil without good. Because our place had an entrance to another yard from the living room! And this yard was much more lively and busy.

03

In general, we always see the same problem in cities: chaotic parking. In Odessa we saw how it is  influenced by pedestrians.

Pedestrian part of the street is cleared up for parking lots close to the buildings. Pushkinska, Rishelyevska, Kateryninska have wide pavements and isolates with plant pots from traffic. But for now, we, pedestrians, need to look over cars because cars are everywhere. Imagine how worse it is during the summer season with tourists from all over Ukraine.

Private small yards make parking inside impossible. This condition makes the yards cozy and safe for inhabitants (for kids and cats too). We often saw yard life through the arch metal fences. Sometimes we were lucky to see peaceful yards with drying clothes and growing grapes.

Often the sidewalk is closed with construction litter. Odesa is being built so fast. Google street view of 2011 shows our neighborhood covered in nets, metal sheets and other builder equipment. Many things have changed since that time, but the quantity of cars under the trees, sidewalks and buildings look like 10 years ago.

04

After urban observing we formulated the hypothesis - the sea is an important urban resort component.

The sea means life for people who work in the port. But talking about other odesits… They can’t  see it for weeks… Paradox. There is much to do beside the sea. Firstly, we haven’t felt sea influence in Odesa: it’s spoken about the sea, but… between houses. The sea and the city just exist nearby, that’s all. Walking on the sea embankment was possible only on the hotel "Nemo" territory. It has a reconstructed modern plot, so the sea watching is very comfy there.

Like odesits, we walked a little on "The Health Track", then to civilization through concrete steps with no lighting (we really felt poor infrastructure there). The cableway is closed. The beach is old, not pleasant to walk — fences are everywhere, abandoned buildings, thickets etc… It’s harder to walk around in October because the infrastructure works less when summer is over. When it’s a bit cold, nobody uses beaches. 9 of 10 spots there are empty, closed and have no lighting. Public toilets are a problem too. Some cafes let us use the bathroom, one asked for 10 hryvnas despite the law about free access to the toilet.

Also, the beach was almost empty: only some fishermen, sportsmen, hardening people, ones with metal detectors and few taking photos of feeding halcyons. We really loved the beach this way, because no people meant no loud music, no pushy shrimp sellers, annoying kids,  entertainers and drunks who threw bottles into the sea. However, we haven’t seen anything we got used to since childhood or anything looking like a typical "beach vacation". And, sadly, we haven’t chatted with anybody there.

We also came across an inclusive beach. It was so unexpected and we were glad to see it there. This beach is the only one of its kind in Ukraine.

Author: Mistograf / Translate: Yuliia Danylova

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