Fabulous, Festivals : April Foolin' in Odessa, Ukraine

Escaping out of Lugansk here in Eastern Ukraine usually involves some sort of complicated bus or train (or both) excursion; for my jaunt down to southwestern coastal city of Odessa last weekend, this came in the form of a 20-hour overnight train!

But, oh!, what a weekend of fun and friends and...NO SIGHTSEEING! I think that Mark Twain, in his travel memoir, The Innocents Abroad, best summed up the atmosphere of Odessa:

"We consulted the guidebooks and were rejoiced to know that there were no sights in Odessa to see...nothing to do but idle about the city and enjoy ourselves."

All 192 of the famous Potemkin Steps:
Walking along the lazy boulevards of Odessa, it's easy to miss some of its most striking features: it's architecture. Coming out of WWII with only a few minor wounds, the collection of pre-Soviet structures (mostly neo-renaissance and art nouveau styles) is unlike that of any other city in Ukraine:
The most beautiful and well-known of all of Odessa's structures is her lovely opera house:
The citizens of Odessa are known all throughout the former U.S.S.R. for their humor and love of a good prank. Funny matters are serious business here, and that's why on April Fool's Day, the city celebrates with a huge festival (Carnival Humorina) followed by a day off! I couldn't have planned for a better time to be in the city:
However, the main reason I even traveled to Odessa in the first place was to meet up with my fun British friend, Alistair (a fellow English teacher we met while living in Japan), who is traveling the world on the Japanese Peace Boat (check out their amazing voyages and what all they do here). As a part of their journey, they were scheduled to dock in Odessa for two days before sailing onward to Egypt:
Besides meeting and hanging out with Alistair's other international friends volunteering on the Peace Boat (from the Netherlands, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, and the Philippines), I got to speak a little Japanese as well (it's been awhile)! Around 900 Japanese passengers from the boat joined in the Carnival Humorina, and even sang some songs and danced a little Yosakoi on the main stage! It was definitely nostalgic:

A few early morning and lovely evening wanderings around Odessa...
...and it was back aboard our Soviet box-car-mobile to Lugansk, with a renewed fondness for folly and friends to help pass the time away! спасибо, одесса!