Once Upon a Time in Crimea…

A bus drops us off in a quaint tourist town over looking the Black Sea. It’s a gorgeous late June day, and Masha and I are finishing off our day trip that covered half of southwestern Crimea. We walk the narrow tree-lined streets brimming with fresh fruit and dried fish in search of a present to take home to our friends. A bottle of imported goodness hailing from Czech Republic called “Becherovka,” it’s the last thing left on our list before we find a ride back home.  The small town we were calling home at the time carried cheap wine, delicious beer, and nothing more.

We just landed in probably the 4th or 5th city/town that day, and even though the day had been long, this town had a special charm and very relaxing ambiance – the kind that accompanies a close relationship with the sea. Masha and I had hitched the whole trip so far, with the exception of a couple of buses, so it was nice just having a leisurely walk. In all reality we were lost, somewhere in the beautiful landscape that lie between Yalta and Sevastopol, and I’m very glad to have been traveling with Masha at the time, who was in no way perturbed by our current loss of direction. Masha is an old friend from Oster, a small town just outside of Kyiv where I once lived, and I always liked her because she was “very” patient with my language skills, which means she put up with my horrible Russian grammar, and we conversed to no ends. On this particular day there was much to reminisce:

  • We hitched a ride with Russian “Speed Racer,” and zoomed along the coast of the picturesque Black Sea for 2 hours.
  • Took a tour of this amazing sea-side palace, the name of which alludes me now.
  • Caught a ferry to Sparrow’s Nest Palace.
  • Stopped in Yalta for Russian Cuisine, and high culture along the famed boardwalk.
  • Missed our stop to Sparrows Nest Palace, and instead went to the “skylift” the next town over via V.I.P. ferry.
  • Found an old Islamic Palace along the way with a beautiful water lillie garden – lotus included!!!
  • Took the “skylift” up a huge mountain, along the way watching wine vineyards and a vast assortment of trees brush by, and at one point got engulfed wholly in thick billowy clouds for 5 whole minutes!
  • Took pictures in Russian Army attire while atop vintage car – on the mountaintop!
  • Caught a bus somewhere for about an hour.
  • Found myself in the aforementioned town at the beginning of the story :p

So, yeah… back to the town. I find my drink of choice “Becherovka” in a little shop, and we are off  in a taxi. We berate the driver with questions who finally leads us to a spot where he says we can find another ride to our final destination – and again we wait. This time we wait on the side of a road that curves straight through the mountain range itself. In retrospect the mountains really dominated the whole landscape, it’s just that I was down along the coast most of the day and didn’t realize the dominance they now cast upon us.

We found a ride in less than 30 minutes, which is fantastic for hitching, and it never hurts that Masha is a cutie pie when looking for rides. A silver Volkswagen stops and for the next two hours we jam to intense drum and bass music and smoke cigarettes with our new friend, who is so ecstatic to find out I am from Texas that he gives us our 2 hour ride for free. The coastline blurs by and the sunset has made the sky into a palette of warm colors. I look over to Masha who is sitting close enough to me that I can feel the warmth of her body, and I intuitively relax and reflect on my experience so far in Crimea, sublime indeed.

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~ by Joseph Garza on December 25, 2009.

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