Historical Tour of Odessa – Saturday – Part 2

After touring Odessa’s City Center, we hopped in the tour van and headed down towards the water front area (probably still considered in the “City Center”). This is the place to take wedding photos, as there were ton’s of wedding party’s snapping photos all around.

It was a great walking tour, learning about the historical aspects of the city and how it was developed over the years. Here are some shots…..

Mother In Law Bridge,  Potemkin Stairs, Ballet and Opera House

Our Tour Van & Guide
Our Tour Van & Guide

Locks Of Love Sculpture, Mother-in-Law’s Bridge
Locks Of Love Sculpture, Mother-in-Law’s Bridge

Tons Of Weddings In Odessa On A Saturday
Tons Of Weddings In Odessa On A Saturday

photo

photo

Alexey, Alexander And Jay, Looking At Catherine The Great Monument
Alexey, Alexander And Jay, Looking At Catherine The Great Monument

Our Odessian Guide
Our Odessian Guide

Catherine The Great Monument
Catherine The Great Monument

The Group
The Group

Rainwater Fountain
Rainwater Fountain

The Port
The Port

“A Composition” – Our Guide Talking About The City Architects
"A Composition" - Our Guide Talking About The City Architects

Original Odessian Steps
Original Odessian Steps

Current Steps
Current Steps

Another Great Patio
Another Great Patio

Mobile Coffee :)
Mobile Coffee :)

Opera And Ballet Theater
Opera And Ballet Theater

Lanzheronivs’ka vulytsya Odessa‎ (opera house on right)
Lanzheronivs'ka vulytsya Odessa‎ (opera house on right)

Greek Gods
Greek Gods

Archeology Museum
Archeology Museum

Primorsky Boulevard of Odessa
Primorsky Boulevard of Odessa

Monument To Alexander Pushkin (2)
Monument To Alexander Pushkin (2)

Center Of The World
Center Of The World

photo

photo

End Of Tour
End Of Tour

Side Of Opera House
Side Of Opera House

photo

Courtyard Near Philharmonic
Courtyard Near Philharmonic

photo

Alexander
Alexander

photo

Monument To Alexander Pushkin
Monument To Alexander Pushkin

French Baroque Architecture
French Baroque Architecture

German Style Architecture Across The Street
German Style Architecture Across The Street

June 2012

I thought last June was crazy, but we took it to new heights this year! In one week we had 2 dress rehearsals, 2 dance recitals, 1 Kindergarten graduation, and hosted a 40th anniversary party for Greg’s parents. Whew! It all came out great and was super fun, but I’m glad we’re settling into a slower pace for summer!

This week still had lots of activity – P.Lou finished pre-school (insert tear from Mom), she’ll be doing a transitional Kindergarten next year. We also took some fun trips to the Aquarium and the LA Zoo, and most exciting we welcomed a new BABY into the family! Nephew/cousin Ryan!!!!

Here is a little photo run-down of all the happenings:

And onto the Anniversary party

Cheers to Allan and Nancy!

And Cheers to Summer!!

Historical Tour of Odessa – Part 1 – Saturday

Lets hear it for the weekend. We kicked fully into tourist mode on saturday, with a morning stroll around city and a official afternoon historical tour, where our very informative, self proclaimed Odessa-ite gave us the inside scoup on the city and its past. The city was buzzing with the Euro 2012 soccer championship under way, with Ukraine and Poland hosting the tournament. No games in Odessa, but televisions are being wheeled out onto the patio dinning areas to keep the futbol fans happy.

I’ll let the images due the talking today, sorry there are a ton, but I really did my best to edit them down…

Our tour was very informative, and finally I understand why Odessa feels more European than Russian in.

From Wikipedia…”Its historical architecture has a style more Mediterranean than Russian, having been heavily influenced by French and Italian styles. Some buildings are built in a mixture of different styles, including Art Nouveau, Renaissance and Classicist.”

Derybasivs’ka St & Central Park – fantastic area that is considered the heart of the city

Derybasivs’ka St

 

Outdoor Market On Derybasivs’ka St

 

Patio @ On Derybasivs’ka St

 

Outdoor Orchestra @ City Garden

Tree Of Love Sculpture

Here is our great tour guide, she is in love with her city…very cute

Left to right, Sergei, Alexey, Alaxander, Jay
Alexander
Sergei
Alexey

Passage of galleries

We returned here later in the trip for traditional Ukraining gifts

Every sculpture unique, built in 1 year

 

Some Ukrainian Chess In The City Center

 

Vorontsov Monument – Cathedral Square

 

That’s it for the first part of the tour. We can not thank Alexey and Irene enough!

 

Day 3 & 4 in Odessa (Thursday and Friday)

Thursday we had a good day of meetings, getting together with a couple of teams here at the Sigma headquarters. Lots to review and wrap our head around, the jet lag was pretty rough late in the afternoon, but we powered through it. We are coming to realize, that we will not fully shift to this time zone, with dinner usually happening around 11pm, and lunch mid afternoon. The only problem with this for me is … I still wake up at 6am every day :(

Whiteboard session.
Whiteboard session.

After work, we headed out to a Scottish pub type establishment named Corvin, good food, and some good conversations. I had a funny conversation trying to explain why all our kids in the US has such unique names, and here in Ukraine there are about 20 to choose from, but to make up for it, everyone here has nicknames.

Jay tried his very best to explain the concept of a knock knock joke, which was hilarious. Alexey and Alexandar spent an hour the next day googling for Panthers after Jay delivered this one : “(Say with lisp) Panther Panther who? (Say with lisp) Panther no pants I’m goin swimming”.

Off to Dinner … Left To Right, Jay, Sergei, Irene, Alexey, Sergei
Left To Right, Jay, Sergei, Irene, Alexey, Sergei

Corvin
Corvin - Thursday Dinner

Pretty Adventurous Eating For Me
Pretty Adventurous Eating For Me

One Grainy photo….
Headed Out - Should Have Called It A Night From This Point :)

Jay Video Calling Home on the Town
Jay Video Calling With Micah

On our way to work Friday, the Euro 2012 football championship fever was in full gear.
Football!

Back to work friday, and another in a amazing run of food and outdoor dining. I can’t tell you how wrong my perceptions were about the food situation here in ukraine. When I was in Amsterdam, I had a smoothy because I was afraid things juice would be few and far between. Turns out, pretty much every restaurant serves fresh squeezed Orange, Grapefruit or Lemonade, and you can choose from store bought or “fresh” squeezed. The dinning has been nothing short of spectacular (many thanks to our gracious hosts (Alexey, Irene, Alexander, Boris, Sergei & Sergei for finding the best spots around)).

!MamaCasalla!
!MamaCasalla!

Ordering Up – Jay, Alexander, Alexey, Irene
Ordering Up - Jay, Alexander, Alexey, Irene

The Golden bulldog
The Golden bulldog

About 3pm, not exactly the rush.
About 3pm, not exactly the rush.

The Piano
The Piano

The Keys
The Keys

Friday Night we went to a fabulous restaurant (Дача) a bit outside the city center. It was on maybe 5 acres of sprawling land, centered around a ruralish style house. There was a full playground for kids and some lovely guitarists playing traditional Odessean Folk Songs. We tried some Russian Bread Soda, with I was assured was not alcoholic, but my taste buds told me there was some fermentation going on there.

Дача – Dinner
Дача - Dinner

Kompot (Дача) Official Stamp
Kompot Official Stamp

Day 2 – Workin’ in Ukraine

My body told me it was time to wake up at 2:30 AM, too bad I gone to sleep an hour and half earlier. After a bit of a work session from 2 to 4 in the morning, I was finally able to get back to sleep and get a few hours to make today tolerable. Jay & I had a breakfast in our hotel, and took walk around the block in Odessa which is pretty darn fascinating.

Irene and Alexi pick us up at our hotel at around 12:30pm and we headed to the Sigma Ukraine offices about 15 minutes away. Their offices are very impressive, with 3 to 4 teams working on several complex development projects. They make us of the space in a very efficient way, with lots of small to medium-size meeting areas, and some pretty good size rooms for teams of 5-6 people to work and collaborate. Coming from our offices, where we can’t seem to stop talking all over each other and interrupting each others conference calls, there’s something to be learned here.

We received our agenda, and are pretty much booked for every working hour between now and the end of day Monday. Some pretty impressive organization and a lot of things to cover for the project working on with them.

Setting up shop at the Office

JLOOP Sighting

Site of the meetings

Alexander and Jay deep in conversation

Guest Room

View from the guest room

Magic sim card working on the OG iPhone

We headed off to lunch at a restaurant on top of the Luxury shopping center near victory Square in Odessa. The whole team enjoyed from this great rooftop perch. I had my first taste of Ukrainian borscht, which was quite good and lived up to the expectations, since I’ve been hearing about it since Jay’s trip last winter.

Not a real blogpost without a cat photo

Back of the office, headed out to lunch

Not sure what is going on here...

Odessa, view from the elevator

Lunch time, Jay and Alexey

Menus are always an adventure.

Ah, english menus.

From left to right, Jay, Alexey (always on the phone :), Sergey, Boris, Irene, Sergey

I think this is called Victory Gardens...

Borche!

Garlic Rolls :)

I have a feeling at night, this place is hopping.

Back to the office for an afternoon full of meetings and reviewing details of the project.

Overall have been enjoying learning about the Ukrainian way of life & work. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but things seem much more European than I would’ve guessed. I guess that’s why we are in Eastern Europe. Duh. Lots of western amenities, good food and some great hosts are making this a great trip.

Off to dinner, at Tavernetta, near the city center. Good Italian faire, with great hosts Alexey, Alexander, Irene & Serge. I was introduced to the Ukrainian sport of Vodka. This pretty much sums it up for me: They measure it in grams, a unit of wieght, because it is a thing, not just a liquid.

Dinner @ Tavernetta

Bib

Serious wine bottle

Famous Ukrainian Vodka

Headed off to Ukraine – Travel Day

Business has called myself and Jay to the Ukraine, for a week long trip to the city of Odessa.  We left for LAX around 11 AM, Jen was nice enough to get some lift to the airport. We boarded our Monday, 1:45pm flight over to Amsterdam on KLM. The 10 hour voyage turned out to be quite pleasant, due to Jay’s selecting of the emergency exit row, and the very friendly, very Dutch service.

 

 

Our layover in Amsterdam was four hours, which consisted of us checking out lounges in the airport, finding some good coffee, avoiding the smoke from the casino, and generally checking out my first bit of foreign soil in about a decade. We found the direct airport announcements to tardy travelers to be quite humorous - ”you are delaying the flight”

 

The delightful european/dutch tone  began to to get a bit more serious as we headed over to our Ukrainian International flight into Kiev. Jay & I both slept for couple hours on this flight (The crying babies didn’t even phase us).

 

We landed safely in Kiev and proceeded through my first customs experience in a while. Of course I promptly whipped out my camera, which drew serious ire from the security force.

We made the most of our 4 hours in the Kiev airport, exchanging some money, finding some pizza, trying to figure out how to get on our flight to Odessa. The Kiev airport, though definitely Ukrainian, was fairly nice and modern was a pretty good place to spend a few hours. Jay did a similar flight last February, and I could see how much more harrowing it was be to traveling alone & in the winter. It’s nice to have someone familiar with the suroundings & to speak English to. Everyone seems to know a bit of English, but I have a feeling our mileage may vary.

The flight to Odessa was running a bit late, but we made it safely and my favorite part was when the entire plane erupted in applause upon landing. Slightly odd, but hey. Irene, from Sigma Ukraine our development partner, was there to pick us up and take us to our hotel.

Sleep, well not so good, but that is life on the other side of the world.

10 Years

We celebrated our 10 year anniversary last Friday and although it was squeezed in between the girls Wizard of Oz performances without a whole lot of time to make a big sha-bang we did have a nice dinner out. It doesn’t seem right to let it go by without a little shout out here on the blog where we try to document, so here are a couple of photos of us from our celebration evening.

Back on the big day…

Hooray for P!

Our little baby (nearly four and half!) learned how to ride a bike yesterday! She got the hang of it so quick, and by yesterday afternoon was taking fast turns and looping around the street like a maniac, much to her mother’s dismay. Now we need to working on the stopping and starting and we’ll be golden. Both of our girls learned to ride a bike with relative ease, as much as I would love to claim athletic genes, it is truly all in the training. They both spent well over a year cruising on the skuut balance bike learning to balance and coast. Of course some tricycle riding here and there helped with the peddling but they both got the hang of it in a matter of minutes and never had training wheels. No this post is not sponsored by skuut, but it did the trick for our girls!

So proud of little P. Lou

An Instagram trip

I’m sure you’ve all heard of Instagr.am by now, its on the go photo journaling at it’s best. I use my iPhone snap away, add a filter (or not) and post. I of course took photos on my Nikon on our trip last week during Spring Break to the desert, but these were all pretty fun ones. I don’t nearly share all of my IG photos on FB, I don’t want to overwhelm people with “hey look what I’m doing now!” But I figure if people are on Instagram then they want to see lots of photos.. anyhow here is my little photo journal.

Above we stopped to say hi to the roadside dinos, below lunch in Hipster Heaven at the ACE

I just love the evenings in the desert!

mirandashanti is my profile name on Instagram, hope to see some of your photos on there too.

Wild ones in nature

Yesterday was a rare weekend day when we had nothing on the calendar. For me it was great! The kiddos so used to being on the go wanted something to do so we took a bike ride over to the nature center to cruise around. Such a pretty serene place, yet these rambunctious girls just want to climb and run on every tree and stump. We saw the ducks, geese, squirrels and turtles but my advice to stay quiet so we could spy a bunny didn’t last more than 5 seconds.

Such a pretty place to snap a few pics.