“Uh guys, I think we took a wrong turn somewhere.”

Denys Zhadanov, the 25-year-old marketing director of Readdle, a Ukrainian app-development company, peers out from behind the wheel of his gleaming white Volkswagen Tiguan, vainly searching for a landmark.

We’re lost somewhere off Akademika Filatova street, a long four-lane boulevard cutting through Odessa, a sprawling Black Sea port of a million people in southern Ukraine. A brutal winter has given way to February’s slow thaw, the drab surroundings easing into slightly duller shades of gray and brown. Christmas trimmings provide a welcome splash of color: Ukraine celebrates the holiday on January 7th, but a month later many decorations remain, including a giant gorilla in a Santa suit.