Monday, May 03, 2010

Yalta, Ukraine

Surrounded by the Crimean Mountains on three sides Yalta is pleasantly situated and the morning views from the ship in port were spectacular. It was a very busy day starting with a visit to Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (Russian Orthodox)where the golden cupola's shone in the bright morning sun.

The wisteria is absolutely beautiful in Yalta. Alupka Palace was a mix of English and Russian as the Count used an English architect. The highlight here are the six lions that are either side up the stairs to the front entrance. In different poses they are quite cute as one is on guard, one playing ball, one getting tired, one resting and on sound asleep.

Last stop before lunch I saw my first golden arrow on this trip, used as a directional arrow to the wine tasting area. We tasted ten different Ukraine wines which we would all classify as sherry or port. They saved the best for last and number ten was a very smooth port.

We saw from a distance, but did not visit, the Swallow's Castle built by a German Count for his wife in the early 1900's. Rumor has it that she danced gracefully and this is where the Castle's name comes from. The castle is perched upon a high rocky peak and is the symbol for Yalta.

Lunch at the Yalta hotel, an obvious Intourist hotel, from Soviet times was highlighted by a performance by Ukraine folk dancers.

Next was Chekov's home where he lived for the last five years of his life. I did not go inside because it was small, damp, and old antique smells would have made my allergies bad.

We finished with Livadia Palace where the Yalta Conference was held in 1945 (Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin). Upstairs in Livadia Palace they have the Romanov family rooms open to the public. I went through these room but had to make a quick exit after the fifth room as the air was horrible there.

We are sailing to Sevastopol tonight ....

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