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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Ukraine | Crimea - Balaklava (Pink panther & my Birthday)

All the most amazing and adventurous journeys begin with someone saying “I know the short way” (c). Well, I have to admit that after celebrating my Birthday in Crimean Balaklava I’m sure this is true. As much as I love that place (and been there several times, thinking I knew the area by heart) it’s changed so much for the past year and a half. I thought I’d show the short and beautiful way to the fortress and marvelous view of the bay, but instead there were unknown streets, old houses and even wild cucumbers (have I managed to get lost in a town of couple thousands population?) – all but the path I so much needed… But let’s just start at the beginning: so it was September 13th, and it was my Birthday. Normally I spend it in the far lands, exploring new countries, but due to some events I had to cancel my trip to Norway, being stuck in Crimea. Turned out just as amazing as having a picnic near the Capital in Washington, DC (USA, last year)…

The weather was amazing, and while we waited for our bus to Sevastopol at a Yalta bus station, my new pink travelling buddy got tired of watching my bag and went for the beverages:)

 You know, the road leading from Yalta to Sevastopol has the most spectacular view in Crimea, right? It is true. I’ve enjoyed it way too many times when I had to pass the phd exams in Sevastopol academy while working in Yalta, but one can never get tired of these huge rocks hanging above the sea and small coastal villages. There’s also a tunnel there, and the legend has it you can make a wish while going through – as long as you clap you hands at the exit of the tunnel, the wish comes true. ‘Been there, done that…’ It works:)

The distance of about 85kms takes the bus up to two hours: blame the turns and the hills, but once we arrive to the Sevastopol station, our way is far from being over. We go to Balaklava: used-to-be a small town, now it is officially a part of the big city. Surprisingly, getting there is a bit tricky: there’s no direct transport from either bus or train station, so you have to take a trolley or marshrutka to a place called ‘the 5th kilometer’. It is a name of a huge open air market where one can buy anything: cloths, plants etc. You’ll need about half an hour to get there, adding yet another 20-30 minutes for the next park of the journey: once at the 5th km, go catch the bus leaving to Balaklava (costs only 2 uah).

And this is when I find myself being that ‘I know a short way’ character:) Obviously, this town has changed, but I’m surprised to find some old streets I’ve never been to before. We even spot some kind of old ruins next to a new house.

And of course, lots of turkeys make the walk even more fun, as well as the wild cucumber we found on the side of the path. Later, we’ll stumble upon some berries never being brave enough to try those.

The path goes wilder as we go, but finally I know where we are – couple more kms to the place I so want everybody to visit: Chamballo fortress. Have some comfy sneakers – and you’ll be fine as long as you’re not afraid of a long up-the-hill walk, combined with an actual possibility of falling down any moment:)
Can you see a girl on top of the rock?

The paths here are all about trusting yourself (or not trusting, who knows?) – going right next to the edge, it gives people both breathtaking view and shivers down your spine if they’re not used to height.

My mom :D

The remains of the fortress are sweet, but mostly renovated. Some are under a permanent construction: I remember seeing the same wooden stuff around them 2-3 years ago. This is my personal favorite spot to enjoy the scenery: the bay with all its yachts, restaurants and crowds of tourists…

This is how the entry to the bay looks: to actually see it, you’d have to take a boat (and trust me, it is worth seeing!). This time a restaurant on a ship was enough of ‘sailing’ for the always-sea-sick me…

The rocks are huge, you can see it from the size of the boats down in the water (different ones, but aren’t they just soooo tiny no matter how many passenger they hold?)

And then there was the private part of the birthday: the one with food and drinks, and of course with a magnificent view from the *windows*…

And some Sevastopol pics. This city used to be a closed one – literally, to go there any citizen of Ukraine needed a special paper! Nowadays it is still very different from the rest of the peninsular, with a lot of sea universities, people wearing uniforms and streets being clean and wide.

Short thing I posted on my facebook just before my Birthday.
Here comes my personal New Year, and I guess it’s time to list the TOP-3 crazy things I’ve done in the past 365 days :D
3d place goes to: in September 2012 I went on my own to the other side of the globe – USA.
2nd place is all about January 2013 when my blonde friend and I went to Belarus (and Moscow) BY a little CAR despite the -24C temperature and loads of snow…
And finally, the 1st place is well deserved by an insane 8000km trip from Moscow to ITALY and back that I had with a girl who’d only been driving for 4 months!!!
Looks like I’ve traveled for over 16 weeks this past year…

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