As for me and my house we will serve the Lord....

Friday, August 9, 2013

our trip to Crimea

we stopped at the dried fish market on the border of Crimea
Saturday morning after our three weeks of English teaching was over, we left in our nice air-conditioned car for Crimea with our friends from Big River SK. Clay has been part of the SEI team for most of the six years we have done it, but this year he flew in on Thursday with his wife Maggie. It was her first trip to Ukraine, and he wanted to visit Alupka, one of his favorite places since he and Garry went there four summers ago.
Even though Crimea is part of Ukraine, it has a police post where the border used to be, we stopped there for lunch, soup and ice cream before continuing south, we took some photos at the sign.
the view from our window at the Alupka Hotel- see the palm trees?

Garry and I in one of his favorite spots in the gardens 

This was the view of the mountain from the Voronsov Palace Gardens, we walked down to the swam pond the first evening after dinner. We visited there the next morning, walking through the gardens and Clay and Maggie took the tour inside, while Garry and I went around to the Lion terrace, my favorite part of the garden, now you have to pay 4 grivna (50 cents) to go round to the lions, the gardens are free to wander in.
the line to buy tour tickets

Me in the shade of a wisteria vine on the terrace tour 

Garry and I found a new place to walk through

It's a Sequoia tree!

still in Alupka at the palace

Which boat would Garry rather be on?
We capped the morning off with a boat ride to the city of Yalta, then we took a taxi to Livadia, the summer palace of the Romanovs and where the Yalta conference took place during WWII.

Little girls go topless at the beach here
The end of the second day, a trip to the beach, we all got wet before going back to change for a late dinner. Yes the beach was covered with gravel, most of us wore our sandals in the water.
The tunnel for the subs 

The next morning we headed to Stevastopol which is pronounced Stev-a -sto- pol, not Se-vast-ta-pole by the way. We stopped in Balaclava (the namesake of the ski mask) on the way and toured the former secret Soviet submarine base.
Garry and Clay checking out a display

Outside we found this plane
We enjoyed a self-guided tour, except when we asked to join an English tour we heard behind us, and we told we could as long as we asked no questions because they were in a hurry. We went with them for a while, the guys were sure they we Americans, but I thought they sounded British. We let them hurry ahead eventually, while we lingered at an exhibit. We had our doubts about the guide, when she told them the navy flag was the Ukrainian flag, and said some say it is yellow for the wheat fields and blue for the sky (which is what we have always been told) or yellow for the sun and blue for the sea (Clay later noted that would be an upside down flag)  The flag the tourists from the cruise ship were pointing to had that on the upper right quadrant but the rest was white divided in four with a blue cross... so we let them leave us behind. After a stop to tour the Crimea war panorama, where we ran into more cruise ship people, we checked into the lovely Hotel Stevasopol.
waiting for the tour to start
 That evening we took a boat tour of the harbor and the Russian navy fleet in port. The guy we bought the tickets from spoke and little English and promised the captain did too, but of course it was all in Russian. Afterwards we did find a cafe that had an English menu to order off of and had herring for the appetizer, with onions and potatoes.
A lovely sunset view

real Russian navy ships

Garry took the submarine photo

Putin was holding this rope two days before

Finding some shade on a hot day the Greek ruins near the sea

 We visited Cherenoses, site of Greek ruins from about 5 BC, toured the Orthodox church where Putin had been two days before to mark the celebration of the site where Christianity came to Russia. About 1245 a prince was baptized here in order to marry a Christian king's daughter. The church was rebuilt in the 1990s, the original was bombed during WWII. We even  found some sheds we had never seen before with pieces of mosaic floor stored in them.
Garry reading in the hotel lobby

One more dip in the Black Sea off the cement steps 
Maggie found this cat by the souvenir shops

At the Khan Palace, on the drive back 
We drove back to the village on Wednesday  after the buffet breakfast on the veranda of the hotel, a wonderful way to start your day, with a morning stop to tour the Khan Palace, where the power was out in the upstairs museum so the ladies/room supervisors were opening the window curtains so we could see, along with  many Russian speaking tours coming through the rooms. The tour was capped off by a man reading Garry's t-shirt and shouting "Winnipeg Jets" followed by "Washington Capitals"!

 Of course I am a Philadelphia fan and Clay roots for the NJ Devils (don't ask me why) so the Capitals are not a team we like! Garry safely drove us home through the many hazards of the road with a stop at a cafe for lunch- we used the bathroom first, which upset the lady before she realized we were ordering lunch, and the Mc Donalds drive-thru in Zaporosia for dinner a half hour before arriving home where the guys were unloading straw bales unto the big pile.

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