Day 10-12, Ai Petri, Fiolent

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Day 10, 16.4., Ai Petri

At the bus station of Sevastopol I told the woman behind the counter I wanted to get on the next bus to Koreiz (near Yalta), where the hike to 1234m high Ai Petri mountain starts. But apparently she booked a ticket to Yalta, so when I checked my current location 15min before the written arrival on the ticket, I was already close to the centre of Yalta. So I quickly got out and stopped a bus to Sevastopol which let me out about 1km before the starting point.

At 2.30pm I started hiking and about 100 minutes later I stood on top of Ai Petri. The hike has been really nice, because the weather was great all the time; there were no clouds like the day before, which blocked the view.

Unfortunately the cablecar which I thought, I could take back down didn’t run yet, so I had to hike down, too. But before I relaxed one hour on the summit, writing mails, taking photos and eating.

At 5pm I started my way back down and after having arrived, started hitch-hiking to Sevastopol.

Two guys stopped and took me to the next bus stop. There another guy talked to me and even bought the bus ticket for me.

Day 11, 17.4., Fiolent

At noon I met with E. and R. at the cash machine near their university, where I had to wait 30 minutes to get some cash. But then we took the bus to Fiolent, where, near a monastery, 700 descend down to the Black Sea cost.

Because it was my last full day in Crimea and the weather was really nice – sunny and a bit hot – I decided to go for a swim. But it was freezing cold. My skin really hurt really much after some swimming movements. At least I stood the cold water longer than some young Russians who arrived when we were leaving.

E. and R. were very thankful and said, our conversations have been a worthwhile language training, which I hope it really was.

Before I said good-bye to E., she helped me finding a good Crimean champaign for my mother’s birthday.

Till the evening I strolled around the centre in Sevastopol, threw the in the meantime self-designed post cards in a post box and sat down in a park to read.
To the photos of Ai Petri and Fiolent

Day 12-13, 18.4.,  Sevastopol-Kyiv

At 12.30pm my train was departing from Sevastopol train station to Kyiv. But before I had to do some shopping: more champaign for my friends in Karlsruhe and Berlin and the delicious Galicia apple-carrot juice.

Sadly I then entered the train and left Crimea. The haven’t been any passport controls of Russian soldiers. Only Ukrainian ones walked through the train at Melitopol train station.

In Kyiv I arrived at 7.30am, took advantage of cheap McDonald’s prices for a tiny breakfast and went to Boryspil airport by metro and bus.

There I helped an American guy, who visited Ukraine for meeting a woman, who could have been his daughter. He had invited her to fancy restaurants, but could only talk to her with a personal translator, because her English was non-existent. He registered at a website and had received and replied to more than 5000 letters from Ukrainian girls.

But everytime he answers, he needs to pay a certain amount of money from which I’m sure a certain percentage goes to girls. That’s why I guess their intention may not only meeting and being invited by the guys but just to keep up the communication because it might be a good income – I mean normally people would exchange email/Skype/Facebook/VK details. Some girls even wanted to be invited to America – on the guy’s cost naturally.

At 2pm it was finally time to leave Eastern Europe and to head to Paris.

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Ai Petri

Fiolent

Sevastopol to Paris


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Day 6-7, Chersonesus, Balaklava

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Day 6, 12.4., Sevastopol, Chersonesus

In the morning L. had to visit some teaching lessons for her new job. That’s why I walked through the Eastern part of Sevastopol  without a real plan. In opposite to the previous days in Crimea, the weather was rainy and cold. Only near midday it became warmer.

When L. was finished, we went to Central Shopping Area (ЦУМ) near her university, ate Pizza and met with her friend A. Then we went to Chersonesus (Херсонес) an ancient greek town at the Sevastopol seaside.

But before I had to use an ATM. But like anywhere in Crimea (or better in Sevastopol), only Russian banks were opened. All Ukrainian ones were closed and their ATMs shut down. In front of the Russian banks, many people waited for hours to change their bank accounts and receive their salary (in Rubels).

There were crowds from the early morning till even 8.30pm in the evening in front of e.g. VTB or Sberbank.

During the period of transition the payment of the salary in Rubels is a bad deal for the population. The amount is converted from Grivnas into Rubels according to the current exchange rate (buy 1:3.3 – sell 1:2.8) . In the shops it was reconverted again, but usually to an even worse rate than at the banks (like 1:3.5, even 1:4 in the busses). So in addition to the floating exchange rate this caused another loss of the original value of the salary.

**Average salary 2500 Grivnas (170€, 04/2014) × 2,8 = 7000 Rubels /3,5 = 2000 Grivnas (135 €) ⇒ 20% loss**

In my case only Sberbank had ATMs that I could take money (Grivnas, but that was good) from. But I had to wait some time as well, because usually there were people in front of me, who either didn’t know how to use a cash machine or used it for making a deposit.

Anyway we searched for a hole in the fence to not pay the “enormous” entrance fee of Chersonesus of 35 Grivnas (2,40€). After a tour around the whole area, we found the hole and enjoyed the sunny weather walking around.

In the evening we met some acquaintances of A. and went to a bar. Later we separated and L., her friend S. and me sat down at a playground, drinking some cider.

Day 7, Sunday 13.4., Balaklava

After a long sleep L. and I met her boyfriend and E., a fellow student of hers who’s learning German and wanted to practice it. After the bus ride to Balaklava – in the south of Sevastopol – another friend, D., joined us and we made a tour in a former military area inside the mountains. Submarines and weapons were based there and it was very interesting to see, because from what the guide said I understood as much as a Russian bear would have been a guide. Fortunately E. and L. translated some facts.

Afterwards we walked around the Balaklava bay, passed by lately abandoned huge dachas of former Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovich and climbed up the cliff line. From there the view over the bay and the Black Sea coast was amazing.

In the end D. drove with us to a Tatar restaurant where we ate big shashlik.

D. was only one of many that put a Russian sticker over the national sign on the number plate of their car. It takes time to exchange and re-register the Ukrainian cars/number plates, but some want to help manually.

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Photos of Chersonesus # Photos of Balaklava



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Day 4-5, Yalta

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Day 4, 10.4.2014, Shcholkine-Yalta

At first I could hitch-hike only little distances from Shcholkine, two times with a Lada, whereas the first Lada 1500 was in great shape, but the second one was falling apart.

When I arrived at the main road to Yalta a convoy of at least 60 military vehicles passed by. They went back to Kerch and then likely to Krasnodar in Russia. I had to smile and so did some drivers as well.

Then I could get a ride in a car, that only few people drive may in their life (most people won’t care anyway): Alexander from Odessa stopped with his Mercedes AMG S63 and gave me a lift to Feodosiya. He was more convinced of Bentley or Aston Martin, though….WFT ^^

In Feodosiya I took a bus to a junction to Sudak/Yalta, where a Russian couple stopped and asked for the way to Yalta. First the woman say they won’t take passengers, nevertheless I explained them how to get to Yalta, because she spoke English and both seemed nice. And in the end they gave me a lift in their Lexus, which was driven to its and the street’s limit.

Their intention of the visit was buying real estate. Now that Crimea became Russian, but many people are still not sure about the future, they think of making a good investment. So rich Russian oligarchs may benefit from a Russian Crimea.

10km before Yalta I got off and found a nice place uphill with view to the Black Sea and thanks to the moon it was quite light.

Day 5, 11.4., Yalta-Sevastopol

In the morning I took a trolley bus to Yalta. Unfortunately the luggage room was closed, so I had to take my backpack into the city centre. At the central square with a Lenin statue I bought some stamps at the post office and saw one of the three closed McDonald’s of Crimea.

Before I took a bus to Sevastopol, I found a really delicious juice in the ATB supermarket made by a company called Galicia. The ingredients were told to be just 50% apple and 50% carrot, no concentrate and no GMO – but it cannot be found on the website.

Anyway, in Sevastopol I met with my host L. whom I cannot thank enough for being able to visit Crimea respectively applying for a Russian visa. Followed by unfriendly words and deadly views due to my big luggage in the small minibus we drove to her home.

After a short relaxation time we went to the city centre in the evening, walked around a bit and drank coffee/milk shake in L.’s favourite coffee house at the seaside.

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Photos of day 4 # Photos of day 5


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