Well, let's start with the fact that I am from an ex-USSR country, where the old soviet culture, architecture and habits are still haunting the local society. I came to Odessa for the first time, I didn’t know too many things about its culture and history so the general expectancy was to find another sad, quite and cold city, with dark streets and simple architecture.
The idea of having a guided tour through the city was not in the top of my priorities list, because of the previous tours I took in Chisinau, Minsk and Sankt Petersburg, where the only impressive moments were when we were passing near those massive, stone buildings (especially St Petersburg and Minsk) irradiating strange cold energy. I remember the guides, with a strange false smile (I’d say even forced), describing the existing “wonderful” lifestyle dominating those cities, and how wonderful the life is there.
But in Odessa…
Well, after a quick walk in the center of the city, I saw a bunch of impressive buildings and strange/funny monuments. Then I stumbled upon this “Odessa walks” tours, when somebody gave me a flyer with some info about the tours and a map with some pinpointed locations, marking some monuments, buildings with really intriguing names (the longest balcony in Europe? The monument to the bribe? Oh..). That was Odessa Walks tours.. So I decided to give it a try.
I met Olga, the guide and the manager of those tours and I registered for a tour.
What I saw and the way all these things were explained by the guide was most unexpected. I felt like watching a 3D movie on Discovery channel..I totally forgot that this was an ex-soviet country, every building, every street became suddenly full of action, colored and warm. It wasn’t a simple tour, with stories being told for the most impressive buildings, but a continuous flow of events, presented in a very accurate consequence, for almost everything you could see around: buildings, trees, monuments, pavement blocks, poles, indicators, trees…everything! That strange initially shapeless “monument to the bribe” became suddenly animated and clear, after its story was told by Olga.
The Opera? When you first see it, you think “what the hell the Museum Quartier from Vienna is doing in the center of Odessa?” Then after you hear the stories from the guide, you start seeing in you mind not just a beautiful piece of architecture, but a flow of events, going faster and slower, as long the guide keeps telling…
If you ever go to Odessa, take the “Odessa Walks” tours..All of them! You will not have one of those static, traditional, crowded tour, but a really unique experience, where every thing you encounter will come to life and change its color. The history of a town, of a building, of a pavement block was never more vivid and captivating.
5 stars out of 5!