JZ Radical's Eastern European Extravaganza
JZ Radical, friend of Milk and skater extraordinaire has traveled around the planet in search of the most perfect skate spots. Lucky for us, he takes the time to make a travel diary on each of his trips, sharing his insanely cool adventures for the rest of us folks stuck at home to pore over. In his latest entry, JZ takes us through his trip to Odessa, one of the most famous, most historic cities in Ukraine:
Originally Odessa was not on the “JZ hit list” of cities to visit on this 5-week trip through Eastern Europe. Skaters from Moscow and Kiev both made it very clear that this ancient Greek city had amazing spots to skate and was well worth the trek. Considering temperatures were consistently in the 90’s cooling off in the Black Sea seemed like a fantastic idea.
Dava & Lesha were my main hosts in this massive port city. They were friends of the skaters I had met in Kiev and picked me up at the train station after my 10-hour overnight journey. Dava is originally from the neighboring country Georgia, takes a lot of awesome photos and rips on a skateboard. Lesha is from the Ukraine, skates well, is a trained classical dancer, knows everything about the European skateboarding scene and is an excellent filmer. He also had a car which was really helpful.
We watched 2 videos filmed primarily in Odessa to get an idea of what spots existed in this majestic-like city of 1 million people. There were a lot of killer spots, however, there were two unbelievably unique architectural masterpieces I just had to skate. Now we just needed to create a plan of attack to avoid getting in trouble by the police.
First we hit the April 10th statue in the center of the city that signifies Ukraine’s Independence. A 100-foot tall sculpture with perfect black marble banks along each of the 4 sides and with lights surrounding the masterpiece. This mission took place at 3 a.m. Dava and I each got a few tricks and Lesha handled the filming duties like a champ.
The second spot had natural white cement waves bordering the beach and the bike path. This skinny wave was quite scary as the drop off to the sand was 15-20 feet. Lesha, Dava and I left the city at 6 a.m. to avoid the crowds, security and to get that perfect soft morning light. These are the spots I dream about as a street skater and are a key reason I set out on a trips like this to begin with. Also Dava was shooting with his film camera which always makes it more exciting.
After 5 days of intense skateboarding we appropriately celebrated with drinks to perfectly choreographed strip teases at the Ukranian temple known as Club Kazanova. The ceilings were extremely high (20 feet) and the girls easily climbed to the top of the pole and when the Motley Crue or Kiss jams peaked they twirled their way down to the stage with Cirque du Soleil-like maneuvers.
The next day I was off by train to Chisinau, the capital and largest city of the Republic of Moldova – a place I’ve never even heard of before!
For more of JZ Radical’s adventures through Eastern Europe, click here
Photography by David Grigoryan