Travel Talk

Bus from Constanta to Odessa, Ukraine


Last night had the distinct pleasure of taking a 13 hour bus from Constanta, Romania to Odessa, Ukraine. I say it was a distinct pleasure being 13 hours because it left at 5 and heard it was 8 hours, if it was 8 hours, I’d of had a lovely overnight in a five star bus station, far from you… The price of a ticket is 45 euro.

There was no update yesterday as I had run into the gents from Ride 2 Rescue and they had one of their rare “days off” in Constanta so wished to explore the nightlife with vigor and zeal, I joined, naturally. Quite a decent scene in Constanta, I dare say. The resorts near Mamaia is where all the real action takes place, FYI.

Could write a novel on the events of the evening but the day has been missed, writing about anything but the day at hand has no interest to me. How often do you show up at a fashion show in a nightclub at 2 in the morning? Huh?! Place also had a massive swimming pool and a dancer on this main stage, what!? No complaints.

The gents from Ride 2 Rescue were cool, even cooler mission. Biking from London to Melbourne to raise awareness about child trafficking. They are about 1.5 months into the 15 month trek, talk about exciting? I asked countless questions and found the entire thing fascinating, biking through Iran, India & Nepal are what interest me most.

I digress.

At about 4:30, snag a cab and the least I could say was that this cab was rare but thought “nah forget it”, off to the station, good sir. The gent was in his mid 20’s and easily over 185cm and 90kg. He had a massive tattoo on his shoulder and we made small talk until I saw him reaching for something down low, upon further inspection it was a massive knife.

I said to the gent “that’s quite the knife you have there”, to which he quipped “yes, but sadly it is broken”, we pull up to an intersection and wait for a light. He proceeds to take the knife out and it’s massive, a “screw you, you’re dead” type knife that you’d imagine on some ancient warrior who killed people for a living.

He began holding it up and admiring it, at this point part of me wished to say “could you please put it away, it’s making me uncomfortable”. At this point he passes it to me and says “look how heavy it is” so I’m sitting in the back of this cab holding a monster knife, he was right it was heavy. Said he uses it for intimidation when people don’t pay, ok….

Arrive at the station and buying a ticket is tough without any English. Also it’s one of those where there is no number for the bus, the driver comes into the station and collects people. Sit there for 1.5 hours making small talk with a gent who was going to see his family in Moldova. Sadly, Romanians have a bad rep. He told me stories of being in Italy and them hearing Romanian and kinda the doors to the shop and investigating them before they could leave. He says it’s the gypsies ruining it for everyone, believe him.

About 3 hours into the bus ride, the bus breaks down. It pulls into this store on the side of the road, sorta like a truck stop. All they served was sausages and bread. You’d come order 10-15 beef jerky like sausages with a loaf of bread and mustard. The porch smelt of stale cigarette smoke and the only customers were gents eating such said meal above in grey pants and sleeveless white undershirts. I ask if I can buy a sandwich through one of the gents on the bus who spoke, turns out you can, it was a hot dog sandwich.

Finally pull into the first border. Crossing from Romania to Ukraine is quite the ordeal. You hit Romanian customs, then what appeared to be three Ukrainian stations every 30 minutes or so where they come on, ask for the passports again. Not sure how it works but it did, we stop in a small desolate town.

At this point, I figure we’re in Odessa as I had been misinformed of how long it takes, a small panic like sensation kicks in as sleeping in a train station in say Berlin is different than a bus station in Romania, who knows about the Ukraine? Turns out it’s just a pit stop. Pass out and wake up at 5am, never been more thrilled to be on a bus.

We arrive at the station and immediately regret only googling accommodations 20 minutes before leaving. I have a piece of paper that says “Mc D’s”, “Tram 5”, (Random Name) + half a street name. Immediately rushed by taxi drivers when arriving. Some culture shock was certainly there, this is very different than Canada, this felt very different than Romania. Look for a tram, can’t find it. Wish I had spent the extra 2.5 seconds to write down the bus name, oh well.

Finally find the tram and jump on. Get off at what appeared to be a train station and I saw the Mc Donald’s, I knew my detailed instructions would pay off. In my mind could still see the map I gazed at briefly half a day ago. Begin proceeding to where I think it is, remember the number 60 as the address on a street I didn’t bother to write down as it was too long. Can’t find where I need to be.

Spend the next hour wandering around streets looking for an open wifi connection, none and those that do work give me a page can’t load error. Show up at a hotel and try my luck, again iphone won’t detect signal. Pull out the laptop and it’s still not working, finally on the last possible connection it works, amazingly I had found the right street, everything and was 1 block away. While writing my detailed instructions fit for any guided tour or first time traveler, forgot to notice “find a red door and push the buzzer”. Ok.

Walk through this odd hallway and to the second floor where I’m greeted by a lovely Ukrainian lady who works reception, signs me in and offers me hot drink. The place is quite nice, feels really homey. I’m inside one of those downtown drab looking buildings on the outside but on the inside has custom 20 foot ceilings and massive chandeliers. Can’t judge a book by its cover, yes?

After some rest, went to the beach. What I expected AND MORE. Really busy, really good vibe. Didn’t bring camera as I’m alone. Theft and sand are two things which don’t compliment a camera. It’s a 40 minute walk, was going to go back to capture the moment but just couldn’t.

Quite liking it here despite connectivity issues with my laptop making my lifestyle sort of difficult, if not impossible.

Tips hat,

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