Returning to our family trip this summer...
We sailed into Odessa, Ukraine ready to take our special day-long family trip. Our brilliant travel agent, Teri Crane of World Travel Management in Los Angeles, set up a wonderful full day of exploration, and we enjoyed every minute.
Our guide Yuriy of Odessa Private Tours met us dockside and loaded us into our private van, and we were off to the village of Nerubayskoye for a tour of the Catacombs.
Yuriy was WONDERFUL in his explanation of the history of the partisans during World War II, the underground Soviet army fort, and how living underground was their only means of survival.
The entrance to the Catacombs...there are over 650 miles...yes MILES..of tunnels.
We wandered and wandered through the dimly lit, narrow corridors...
...trying to imagine how people slept,
in such desperate surroundings.
Not simply partisans, resistance fighters, soldiers....but whole families lived in the catacombs--as evidenced by this underground schoolroom.
Back above ground, we picked up our additional tour guide, Elena. Elena will be remembered for a long time in our family. She was a one-woman Chamber of Commerce for Odessa...in truth, Odessa's Cheerleader without peer! "The Best In The World"!!!!
Here's a fellow who is near and dear to my heart.
Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin.
(My baccalaureate thesis for my Russian major was "Romantic Concepts in the Major Works of Lermontov and Pushkin. I spent a LOT of time with dear old Alexander Serge'ich.) Pushkin lived in Odessa and wrote many of his famous works there.
My cousins get up close with the great poet.
As does Alix.
Then Elena trotted us to "the most beautiful opera house in the world."
Note, please, our enthusiasm. Lunch was waiting.
I totally forgot to get the name of the restaurant, but obviously, it was a great spot--my friend, Crystal Serenity's Head Sommelier Bart, took his posse out to lunch there, as well..so we were a merry band of non-Ukranians.
Lunch was yummy-- with lots of interesting translations...
...and I was able to try kvass (a slightly fermented beverage made from black bread) for the first time.
There was also the traditional vodka with pickle and black bread chaser.
Next stop, another fascinating "best in the world" stop with Elena. This is a "best in the world" well of some sort. Elena can tell you all about it. Lord knows, she told us.
Some pretty impressive columns.
Yes, they are of "the best in the world" construction.
This must be some "best in the world" graffiti.
In reality, it was a terrific day--beautiful weather, hanging with the family along the Black Sea...
So maybe it WAS a "best in the world" day!!!