My favorite place in Odessa is the Colonnade across from the Vorontsov Palace. It is very special to me because of my mother — she is the one who first made me love it. When I was 5, we lived here and it was her favorite place to come and walk with me. We used to take a stroll twice a day, early in the morning and around 6 or 7 in the early evening. It was the best time of day in the summer: neither cold nor hot. The sun would be going down and it was always beautiful weather. As a kid, this was a special moment, because the day was finished, but you are not going to bed yet – you know that you will have a snack later and watch some TV.
On our walks, my mother would show me the view of the port from this spot and tell me “this is your town Deni”. I really loved those words, they made me feel really motivated. At that time I didn’t quite understand them and it is only now that I understand what she meant. It was here also that she told me something I remember very clearly and it was very significant to me. She said, “What’s wrong with you? You got sneakers on your feet and a head on your shoulders, go on and walk, get going”. I was very close to my mother. She died when I was 16. A mother is so important for a boy, but I have to say that my father helped me get through that. I am grateful for the way he raised me. He made a very big difference for my development as a boy growing up and I think he taught me to be a good man.
I used to play here with my grandfather too. I don’t know why, but I loved watching American movies and I especially liked baseball. My grandfather made a baseball bat for me and we used to play baseball over here. right next to the Colonnade. I think he also used to come here with my mother, and then my mother would come here with me, so it was their favorite place also. So it is a very sentimental spot for me: I proposed to my wife here.
I like to look at the port, at the lighthouse, I love that vast view. Looking out from here really makes me feel like I’m not alone and that the world doesn’t just revolve around me.
I love the story about Count Mikhail Vorontsov — that he used to come out from his house in his slippers and count the ships in the harbor – which in to count his money essentially. Just imagine this character walking around with his coffee in his slippers and robe, counting the ships! His palace (house) is right here, I bet he threw a lot of great parties here, some of them attended by Alexander Pushkin.
Now I live on Gogol Street and any time I don’t drive to work, I walk across the bridge, through the Colonnade, down Primorsky Boulevard and then I walk over to the Central Bar, and to Bourbon Rock Bar. There are a lot of places in Odessa that show its character. For example, Moldavanka is the home of the Odessa con artist culture and creative scamming. The Colonnade and it’s surroundings represent to me something closer to Bohemian serenity.
I always wanted to have a bar. I think it’s every Tom Sawyer’s dream — every boy’s dream — to stand behind your bar, sell drinks to your friends or give them drinks on the house, to engage in some funny chit chat. I always imagined the typical scenario when a girl walks in and looks at the bartender, and sparks fly. Everything I do in my life is based on images from the movies in a way. It’s all in pictures, I live in them, and I think that’s why I started all this. Also, I never like to sit in one place, I’d rather do anything. Let’s start a bar? Let’s start a bar! I like the good atmosphere of people having fun, smiling, drinking, hugging. It always brings me joy.