Archive for March 23rd, 2009

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Gambrinus Bar/Restaurant, Odessa

March 23, 2009

Ok – this is more of a bar than a restaurant but the food is not bad at all.

So why the blog about it?  There must be hundreds of bars?

There are hundreds of bars in Odessa, and there are hundreds which I will never mention because they are nothing special or there is nothing special about them, BUT…………..

Gambrinus is the oldest surviving bar in Odessa.  It, as many a good place is, can be found on  Deribasovskaya.

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Gambrinus was born……or should I say first opened in 1883.  It featured in a novel by Alexander Ivanovich Kuprin….the Kuprin who wrote books, was a journalist, pilot and a bit of an adventurer…..the other Alexander Kuprin was a painter.

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What?…..Which book by Kuprin?

Now you have me, he wrote 3 very to fairly famous books, the famous books being “The Dual” in 1905 about life in the Russian Army.  He wrote a book called The River of Life in 1906 and one called Yama (The Pit) over the period of 1905 – 1915 which was about the lives of prostitutes in Odessa.  He also churned out numerous other poems, odes, books and short stories etc etc but these 3 are probably the most famous.

Well, it must be the book about the lives of prostitutes in Odessa, surely!!……..Dunno, I haven’t read any of his works, and most of them were written when he was living in Odessa…..near the Gambrinus Bar.

Anyway, you have a computer…..yes you do, ‘cos you’re reading this…..so you can find out for yourself if you’re really that interested!!!

Going back to the bar itself, you will find large upturned kegs acting as tables and smaller upturned kegs which act as seats…….Aye, takes me back to when I was a young sea-faring laddy and Black Beard was a threat to all who sailed the seven seas!!……Well actually it doesn’t, ‘cos I ain’t that old and I was Army and not Navy……but that’s the kind of ambiance the Gambrinus emits.

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Anyways, according to Kuprin’s book, the bar was originally on the other side of the street to where it is today, but nobody knows when it moved….or even if it ever moved….as Kuprin liked a wee dram or two, so he could have been well and truly pissed out of his brains when he described the bar and it’s location.

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For the purposes of this blog though, it is irrelevant…..The Gambrinus is a very, very old bar Ok!!

The beer is good, the food is good and there is live music every night, so if you come here, don’t walk past the Gambrinus, GO IN!!!!!

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Captain Morgan Nightclub – Odessa

March 23, 2009

This club has been going since 1997 and is probably the most aggressive when it comes to TV advertising and attracting well known DJ’s from across Russia, Ukraine and Europe.

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The club is located on Zhukovskogo in the centre and is split over two levels. 

It is open 24/7, although between 0800 and 1000, they are offering a very limited service.

Entry is free, but despite this you have to be exceptionally cool to get in, as it hosts some of Odessa’s elite. 

Also, don’t let the sound of international DJ’s fool you…..there is very little room to dance……but the menu’s and Odessa ladies here are some of the best to be found.

Not really my thing though……….yes, I know what you’re thinking and……

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Here’s a link…….but it’s only in Russian…….  http://www.morgan-club.com.ua/

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McDonald’s – Odessa

March 23, 2009

McDonald’s are bloody everywhere unfortunately.  Every 3 kilometers or so you will find one.  So if you are wanting to eat this………

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……..so you can look like this……..

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………….by eating something which tastes like this……….

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……….then look for this………

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Please do not do what many locals do, and have you photo taken with this………

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……….and consider the limited period only, “local specialities” on the McDonalds menu too…..well you don’t come here often…..

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Nuff said!!!!!

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London Hotel, Odessa

March 23, 2009

The London Hotel can be found on Uspenskaya, in the heart of the City.

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You cannot miss the London Hotel as the doorman is dressed as a “Beefeater”……which is obviously a very British traditional uniform dating back to Elizabeth I times…….although it looks quite “girly”.

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The London, or as it is also known, Londonskaya Hotel is a 4 star “luxury hotel”.  Truth be told, it is not a bad hotel at all, but like most good hotels in Odessa, it only has a small number of rooms.  The London has only 37 rooms for guests to stay in.

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All rooms are furnished well and come complete with the usual accessories that you would expect from the western hotels…..such as hairdryers etc etc.

There is not much I can tell you about the hotel that the hotel website cannot…..

http://www.london-hotel.com.ua/eng/

…….but I would question why, having named rooms, restaurants and bars after particular cities in the UK……why they called the bar, the Glasgow Bar?

The Derbyshire Bar, The Berkshire Bar or even the Norfolk Bar bring to mind, at least to the Englishman, a name which would stereotypically be much more inviting than a bar called the Glasgow Bar…….but whatever…… it’s a nice hotel.

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Russian And Ukrainian TV

March 23, 2009

Russian and Ukrainian TV is normally received by Satellite or Cable.  I have yet to see, but I am sure they exist, the TV aerials traditionally seen on top of the terraced house in the UK…..you know the ones, they look like a flea comb for a Woolly Mammoth.

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Now, although the number of TV channels delivered varies slightly from region to region, both in Moscow…..have I said I used to live in Moscow?….Whatever……..and in Odessa there are a minimum of 70 channels to choose from.

Yes, you can get the odd English speaking channel…..no, not odd like a channel devoted to Taxidermy or Bound & Buggered TV…..I mean you can get the occasional English speaking TV channel, depending upon your provider and how much you want to pay. 

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Personally, I’m not sure they are worth the extra money for 2 reasons……

Firstly BBC News 24 is bloody boring, to the point you are actually praying for an alien invasion or the discovery and capture on film, of the mythical 3 stalk-eyed, web toed, giant purple, mucus eating, African Arm-Pit Vole…..just to break the monotony of the ever repeated News cycle.

Secondly, the guy who fits your satellite, for a few bucks more, will “fix it” so that you receive all channels possible permanently for no extra monthly subscription charge.

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This then boosts your channel reception from the standard 70 or so Russian and Ukrainian channels, to approximately 145 channels including Greek, Italian, English and many more from continental Europe…..which is incredibly useful as you obviously need to know that the local post office, in a 4 house village in provincial Lithuania, is closing down due to being unable to cope with demand!

Ok….I know, I have digressed….allow me some leeway, I’m not as young as I once was and you know how us “old farts” like to waffle on a bit!!

Back to the “standard” 70 something Russian and Ukrainian channels you receive in Odessa.  Of these 70, almost half are actually Russian channels.  There  are several ways to tell they are Russian channels and not Ukrainian. 

Russian channels speak in Russian……but so do many of the Ukrainian channels as much of the Ukrainian population doesn’t speak or understand Ukrainian…..so really this isn’t much help……unless they are speaking Ukrainian, at which point you can guarantee it is not a Russian channel…….obviously!

Russian TV channels never mention Ukraine or anything/anyone from Ukraine unless we are in the middle of the annual gas dispute…..or a Ukrainian politician has popped across to Moscow to check on their business assets….under the guise of a “State Visit”…..Yes, that’s right, a bit like Prick Cheney when visiting Iraq, Georgia or the ‘Stan’s when he was running the USA……Yes he was and you know it!!!

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Russian channels, which show the time…..normally during the news……show the time 1 hour ahead of Ukrainian time.  What?……Ukraine is 2 hours in front of the UK time (GMT)…..and yes it’s clocks do go forward and back with British Summer Time, Russia is the same.  The time shown on Russian TV is “Moscow Time” which is 3 hours ahead of GMT…..and as said, 1 hour ahead of Ukraine.

Generally the standard of programmes shown on Russian channels is better than that of Ukraine.

Ukrainian TV is split between regional and national channels.  Every Oligarch owns a national TV channel in Ukraine which will constantly feature the politicians they own  know ……and no others……unless it is rubbish the politicians owned known to rival Oligarchs.

Despite the fact that Ukraine is a country slightly larger than France with 30 something major and minor cities, national TV stations believe that Ukraine is actually only the size of Kyiv…..because they will only ever show what is happening in Kyiv……unless it is about the weather.

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According to the national TV stations, nothing ever happens outside Kyiv……..unless their owned favourite politician took a wrong turn on the way to parliament and ended up in Donesk…..which then makes Donesk news-worthy by virtue of the fact their politician found it!!

Of the Ukrainian TV channels, one, Megasport, is devoted to…..sport.  Now although it doesn’t show the English Premier League football, it frequently shows Dutch, German…..and obviously Ukrainian football matches from the top leagues.  It also shares the rights with another channel for UEFA and the Champions League……at which point you get to see live coverage of English teams.

There are 3 devoted to Music, plus another 2 from Russia.  There are 3 national TV stations which are similar to BBC News 24…….well there would be, 3 major politicians = 3 national news channels, all biased in their own way….obviously.

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(Yes…..it is “Tatu”….well they are probably the only Russian pop people you know unless you live here….admit it!!!)

Odessa has about 7 local channels, of varying standard, covering local issues and 1 dedicated to selling and buying apartments and houses. 

There are several dedicated film channels which will show both old and new “western” films.  Do not worry if you missed the film you wanted to see……because you ballsed-up the time thing…….as they are repeated 3 times a day…..and if you got the day wrong, you will find the same film playing on one of the other 70 channels that week anyway, so all is not lost!!

Recently, in a political move by the Ukrainian President, Viktor Yushenko, Russian TV programmes have started to be either voice-overed or subtitled in Ukrainian in an effort to severely f*cking annoy the Ukrainian people…..a large number of which, as stated, cannot understand anything in Ukrainian……but all understand Russian!!

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This leads me to the subject of voice-overs and subtitles, the latter being a very infrequent occurrence.  For those of you, not knowing any Russian, but loving CSI, Law & Order and The Borne Identity film series etc etc…..fear not!  The voice-over does not mask the original language of the programme, therefore, once you get used to ignoring the voice-over, means you can watch like you would back home.

This is a good way to learn a few Russian or Ukrainian, depending on the ownership of the channel, phrases.  Where the translation/voice-over falls down is the translation of swear words.  I have never met a Ukrainian or Russian my age….or younger, who not only knows and understands what “Sh*t” and “F*ck” mean but have actually perfected the pronunciation of these words and use them in the correct circumstances and with exact timing.

Yet these 2 words, known throughout Russia and Ukraine, are never translated correctly resulting in both English and Russian speakers shouting at the TV, telling it…….as if it can listen……that the translation is wrong!!

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There is no such thing here as a TV licence as is found in Britain, which means advertisements are on every channel.  No “biggy” you’re thinking, we’re used to that.  Used to it, you may be, but the timing and standard of the advertisements here will confuse you.

It is common for your film/programme to start and within 2 minutes……you know, you’ve just seen the crime, but The Who are yet to play the intro theme music to CSI……and 5 solid minutes of advertisements start.  Many of these advertisements are piss poor in standard and appear to have been made by a 14 year old “media studies” student with the camera on his mobile phone or appear to be the quality submitted to You Tube in the form of a “web-cast”.

Now, having got used to this, and indeed got used to the same advertisements coming around as regularly as the same news items on BBC News 24, you get to thinking…..Ah – it’s the marble fire place advertisement again…..which literally consists of 2 minutes of looking at a marble fire place…..no talking, no people, nothing but looking at a marble fire place followed by the phone number and a sound track which has been put together by a hamster running on 2 turntables whilst the DJ took a piss break…..I have time to make a cuppa!

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Not so fast!!!…..the advertisement is cut short and you are thrown back into the music of  The Who and the title credits for CSI without so much as a “buy you leave”…..or any warning at all!!  This seemingly manic and random cutting into and out from the film/programme continues throughout it’s duration……including a “break” with less than 2 minutes from the end, similar to the start…..forcing you to sit through another 5 solid minutes of advertisements, just in case there is something in the last 2 minutes of the film which you need to know.

We then get onto the TV film rating for appropriate viewing.  These are different coloured shapes displayed throughout the programme in the corner of the TV screen.

A green circle is supposed to represent “fit for any viewers, good all-round family entertainment”.  This, I guess is what you would expect to see at 7.30 in the morning and the ankle biters are getting ready for school…..only to find the French romantic/comedy film being shown on the “standard” channels displaying this green circle has a very pretty but very naked lady filling your screen for 2 minutes…..

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Next in the “ratings guide” is the yellow, or sometimes orange triangle which is attributed to a parental guidance warning…….though strangely I have seen it displayed during “An Affair To Remember” starring Carry Grant which contains no nudity, no bad language and no violence!!!

Lastly there is the red square which is shown when the viewers should be adult only.  This is shown when the “Soft Porn” films are being shown…..generally no worse in content than the aforementioned French film with the green circle, horror movies and those thought to be particularly inappropriate for a young audience…..examples of films displaying the red square have included Four Weddings and a Funeral…..no I’m not f*cking joking!!!!

Then there are the films and TV programmes which contain no symbols…..such as the news…..which will happily show, for example…..the dead body, in vivid detail, of the latest mafia shooting, for you and the kids to discuss whilst eating your evening meal, or the Russian “True Crime” programmes which will do the same and are aired 3 times a day at various times…..but the latest time still being 1900, when the kids are up and about and thus able to give them some real life grizzly images to take to bed with them.

Who knows what nightmares they would have had if their parents had ignored the red box on Four Weddings and a Funeral and let them watch that eh????

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There is little more to add about Russian and Ukrainian TV, other than to say most run 24/7, generally showing the same 6 hour block of programmes and advertisements 4 times during that period and that you will find popular English speaking programmes and films on TV here….albeit subject to voice-over….which is fair enough as hardly anyone speaks English.

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