You have not seen Odesa if you did not visit «Pryvoz»! So, to those who want to experience the real flavor of South Palmyra, we recommend having a walk around the main market of Odesa and trying out artisan cottage cheeses from the local aunties while you're at it.
Opened in 1827. Since then, the place has undergone some changes, with buildings completed, demolished, and built again. However, the very manner of trading in the 'purely Odesan way' has not changed at all.
Pryvoz is located in Odesa's center, just a short walk away from the main train station. While not an attraction per se, adventurous types will enjoy a visit to Odesa's Pryvoz (Russian translation is 'Provision Place') which is an enormously sized outdoor/indoor market, which rivals those of Istanbul and Mexico City.
With very few exceptions, there is almost nothing you cannot get at Pryvoz; from fresh produce, home goods, clothing, dairy products, funeral wreaths, dry goods, hardware, stationary, candies, fish and meats, alcohol, gold jewelry, whatever you need, Pryvoz has it all!
The marketplace has been undergoing a lot of renovation, the dodgy dirty stalls have been gradually replaced with new modern structures, and the best place to begin our photo journey is the corner near the Bus Station behind the new Ostrov shopping mall (above).
This leads primarily into the clothing shopping area, where you can find affordable (cheap) clothing from the Far East factories. A great way to save money and still look good! In the picture below, you can see the produce area to the left, and the dairy hall to the right... let's go look for cheese!
Inside this huge ceiling hall, there are a variety of vendors, most selling dairy products from the region around Odesa, including meats. Tvaroh, a tasty softer farmer's cheese is brought to the level of art here, so feel free to ask for a sample before you buy...
Exiting out the side door, we will head to the meat hall, passing through an area with home goods, dishware, and other assorted sundries... wander through and browse the goods, you never know what you might need, and remember, in pretty much everywhere in Pryvoz, you can always haggle on the prices, but better not do so in English, as that can raise the prices!
Once you wind through the rows of home goods, you will come to the back door of the meat hall. For those adverse to the smell of abattoirs, you might want to hold your breath or put on your Covid mask... the smell of butchery is strong here. But the deals on prime cuts of meat cannot be beaten in the city, and the Soviet-era farm product paintings on the walls are real works of art worth appreciating by themselves!
Explore the art, pick up some steaks, and head to the middle exit to the produce market. You might think you're walking through the back offices, but it is just the area where deliveries come in during the mornings before being dispersed throughout the vendors in the hall. A garden cornucopia awaits you!
Most vendors have their prices displayed, and you order by weight usually (some items by the piece). You can sometimes haggle if you're buying a bunch of items, but their margins are low, and the competition is high, so the price you see is usually the price you pay.
And if you really want to do good with your shopping, seek out the babushkas for some of your produce needs, they grow most of what they sell, and have better prices, and you'll just feel good with your purchase.
There are actually two produce sections, one here and the other on the further end, which is currently in a state of flux as the area there is under renovation. There now you will mostly find wholesalers, so if you need tens of kilograms of potatoes or cabbage, you can get some great deals there.
But for now, we're going to walk on through... there are many stalls and tables here. You could head to the road that cuts through the market, there is another meat/dairy hall with a cleaner environment, but the prices can be higher. Along the through road, there are many non-perishable grocers, clothing shops, home goods stores, and people selling produce and candies by weight.
As you can see in the images above, there is a wide array of items available, you can find things you didn't even know you need. During the days of Communism, Pryvoz was the only market that assured a generous supply of every food type imaginable. Even though the Communist days are long over, Pryvoz remains a sight to see due to its massive size and array of products offered. It is fair to say, that anything can be found at Odesa's Pryvoz although to see it all may take hours.
One of my favorite parts of the market are the sidewalk vendors (currently located opposite the Fish Hall on the sidewalk, as well as opposite the shopping center Novy Pryvoz, the tall fancy-looking building that looks very out of place). Here you can find just about any old relic salvaged by the local poor from wherever... you never know, you might find a real gem, like a masterpiece by the Dutch master Frans Hals. In 1958, while perusing Pryvoz Market, an art collector was drawn to an old woman selling what appeared to be an ancient painting, a masterwork that was believed to have been "lost at sea".
Speaking of the sea, on the far corner opposite of where we entered, is the famous fish hall, with the famous "Fisherman Sonia". This lady can be seen in the famous fish market, a monument of a smiling plump woman, wearing a hat, with fish strung on a rope, and at her feet – a big cat that wants to eat fish.
In this hall you can get seafood, frozen vegetables, dried fish snacks (calamari), spices, and Asian groceries. Look around for the best prices before buying, as they vary by vendor.
Right before you head out of the fish hall, you might want to grab a bottle for the fine dinner you will surely be cooking should you have shopped well. You will be impressed with the selection and the prices are very reasonable.
Now that you've got everything you need, you're ready to take off. Head out the door of the fish hall and you will find the new tram stop, built to EU standards. These trams will take you towards the center, or should you go the other way, back past the famous Odesa Zoo and the many hardware shops that exist on the way to the tram terminal between the bus and train stations where you began your journey... of course, you could always walk back through, no matter how many times you go to Pryvoz, you'll always find something you missed before!