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Crimea - 2005

    So, we go to Crimea. Any travel starts with bothers with tickets. You can buy tickets for train forty-five days before start. There was not any problem with tickets from Moscow to Simferopol (capital of Crimea) but one appeared when Natalie tried to buy tickets from Simferopol to Moscow. There were not any tickets on trains we wanted. She was a success to buy tickets on train which returns Moscow after 10 p.m. It would be very hard to get to home that time without car. And Natalie could get tickets only in last compartment near toilet (WC).  Our people don’t like such compartment. Such problem with ticket for returning is from dividing tickets between Russia and Ukraine. Each country has 90 per cent of tickets on trains, which start from its territory. I laugh and say that you can’t buy tickets on train from forty-six days and those tickets is about all sold when you try to buy them from forty-five days before starting. You may be first at the ticket window but “there is no ticket for this train at that day”!
Thank haven, we had tickets there and back and could start our trip quietly. Our train started at 9:30 a.m. at Saturday from Kursky railway station – one of the nine Moscow railway stations. We got there by local train and Moscow metro in an hour and quarter. Train to Simferopol runs 24 hours and about two hours are taken for boundary and custom examination on the borders. We had a nice compartment for four people in the middle part of carriage but our carriage was in the rear part of train and station buildings were far from us when train stopped. There weren’t too much stops on our way, especially in Russia – only large towns – Tula, Orel, Kursk and Belgorod. Ukrainian part of way we passed at night and first stop there was Kharkov where we had boundary and custom examination as in Belgorod (Russian border). That examination was at the midnight and we slept till Crimea. I only made a couple of photos of morning Sivash bay through the closed window. We arrived Simferopol station at 7:30 a.m. Ukraine has another time zone (though it has the same  longitudes as Russia has) and difference between Moscow and Ukraine's time is one hour. Ukraine considers that it is nearer to Europe than Russia in one hour. (Smile)
    We go to the same place - village Malorechenskoe (Little river's) and the same hosts (Svetlana and Anatoliy)  since 2000. Anatoliy met us near train and we started to Malorechenskoe  by his car. Way there spent about an hour and a half. Fortunately, there was not rain this time. Anatoliy's  car "floated" through the great puddles and  rough streams along Simferopol's streets last year!  Road near Simferopol passed through plains but proceeded into mountain serpentine soon. There were many turns and slopes on that way. The road there was enough narrow and drivers violated road rules very often. They say that rare day passed without road accident there. Most part of those accidents   happens with tourists who drive own cars and natives who carries fruits and vegetables on the very  decrepit cars. Then we turned to the road Alushta - Sudak which runs as great snake between the Crimean Mountains. There isn't too many straight parts there - all road consists from turns and very steep turns. Sometimes it passes near the sea shore and then runs up to the mountains.
    We arrived to our aim at last and occupied our favorite apartment on the first floor. We climbed there by steeps. Then we visited marketplace and sea shore and  swam a little. We decided to have a little rest at five p.m. but we slept till five a.m. next day! Then we started to meet splendid sea sunrise. It had another colors than one we observed year ago. But last year weather was very cold for Crimea.  Rage of colors isn't continue too long but you can get real pleasure from observing process of sunrise. We even swam a little into sea. Water was very warm but morning wind was seemed to cold when I left sea.
    I don't belong to people who like to lie all day on the beach playing cards or eating. I can spend time such way only a couple of days. I like to go to mountains or visit places of interests with excursions. Mike also like the same activity and also he very like to sleep. Natalie, vice versa,  like to slacken under sun rays near sea. She and Mike had burnt their skins that day and I had to start to mountain trip alone the day after. Anatoliy drove me to Louchistoe (settlement at the slope of South Demerdzhi mountain) and I started my raise to plateau. I have excessive weight and some problem with blood pressure and each raise is very hard for me, especially if angle of slope is abrupt. Each time I am raising I say myself that I never shall go to mountains. And each time I returned from there I want to go there again. So, I began ascent to plateau. I went along unmetalled road and had reached beech forest. There I met herd of horses, which was lowering along road. Drover rode last. He asked me if I saw some horses previously. I answered "no" and continued my path up. I reached splendid pond after an hour of ascent and made a couple of photos there. Road whirled and run upper. Next stop I had near fountain I reached in a half an hour. I drank cold and tasty water, made photo and returned on my path up. I passed a couple of abrupt raising and was at the end of path up after two hours. Forest ended there on the enough plain plateau, which was covered with dry grass and rare trees. There were three paths from that place. One leaded towards the top of South Demerdzhi. Another one run down to waterfall Dzhurla. I chose third path and started through plateau along unmetalled road. It run up and down and passed through the little islands of trees sometimes. Limestone cliffs were seen along road and karst holes gladden eye with their green grass. I had a breakfast I put into rucksack. There were light cheese and eggs and some tomatoes and fruits. I also froze plastic bottle with water in refrigerator and that bottle became refrigerator with ice into it. I put it into rucksack together with food and food stayed cool for long time. When ice melted I had a cold water for drinking. It is very nice to have a drink of cold water at hot day.
    Weather was becoming to make worse during I was having my breakfast and gray clouds crawled from gorges and transformed into rags of fog. I remembered thunderstorm in which Mike and I got during last year mountain walk. We had time to go down from plateau to mountain beech forest. But it was very terribly to see lightning, which hit in ground not far that hundred meters, and slid along road slippery from rain. So, I had to run quickly through the fog floated on the plateau. Fortunately, fog was not too dense and I could find path. I was soon at Table-Mountain where lowering began. I came into beech forest and reached spring soon. I was a little amazed that new ground road was made since my last year trip. Beeches were sawn around and new road was a kind of serpentine. I knew later that new branch of tourists' service appeared there. It was "trip by lorry to best mountains' tops of Crimea". It is simple to visit sightseeing such way  but I suppose that large part of charm from hard hike goes away during lorry trip. 
    Fortunately, spring stayed on its place. I drank water from it and washed my face with cool water. There I had a little rest and continued my lowering soon. I passed well-known glades, abrupt slopes, where sharp stones stuck up from road, little dirt pond where we have a first stop for rest during our raises that way. After an hour I was at village Generalskoe. It  stay about ten kilometers to Malorechenskoe from there. I bought a 1.5 l bottle with sweet soda water of dubious quality and drank it near shop. It was mistake because I had got water-blister on my sole just after I passed a half of kilometer. It was very hard to go with this thing. I tried  to catch a car but they passed me. I went about two kilometers and, at last, very old car stopped near me. There was old cook who carried his ravioli to Solnechnogorskoe. He  took me and I had to go only two kilometers from Solnechnogorskoe to Malorechenskoe.
    Next three days I only went to swim at sea and didn't even think about any trips. We went to the wild beach at the morning, lied under sun rays and swam between big stones. Then we went to cafe to have a dinner at the midday. We waited till hottest time of day was over and went to sea again at 4-5 p.m. We walked along street that run from central road to sea. There were many little shops on it. In those shops were sold meal, cookies, souvenirs, vine, fruits, wear, things for beach seating and swimming, etc. Many inhabitants earn all their money to sell there. Also tourists routs and excursions were offered there. There was park and market place opposite main street. Upstairs from marketplace several shops and post office were situated. There was vine shop near marketplace too. But we bought vine at next village Solnechnogorskoe at the vine shop with tasting room. We bought sweet red Crimean vine there and a couple bottles of champagne for New Year party.
    We visited village Rybachie and waterfall Dzhur-Dzhur after my sole recovered. Natalie and I started early to Rybachie because walking along heated asphalt is not pleasant thing. We were lain ahead to walk about four kilometers along asphalt serpentine, firstly raising up and then lowering down to sea. Morning was sunny and warm. We passed constructed church on the cliff above sea and were walking along road. Sea was under mountain on our right hand. We could sea shore and cliffs with seagulls on them. Soon we reached the lighthouse, which stands on the rock above road. It was an ordinary round building, painted white and red, with many devices on its top. We were at the top of this part road soon. Then we came down from road and lowered along the slope because road was very long with its serpentine. We reached lower part of road and went along it through the Rybachie. This village had two main streets. One of them was road we came there. It was situated between beach and village. Both sides of that street were occupied with numerous cafes and meal-shops. Another main street raise from road and perpendicular it. We saw many souvenirs' shops there. Most important Crimean souvenirs are essential oils made from different plants. You could find more than thirty kinds of that oils. Another souvenirs are gifts of sea - many hand-made articles from sea-shells, crabs and pebbles. You can buy honey and grape, peaches and pears, figs and water melons, which are sold just on the sidewalks. 
    We walked along both streets; bought some Crimean souvenirs for my and Natalie's colleagues and for ourselves. Then we had a lunch into Armenian cafe. The most difficult part of returning was raise on the top of road along the slope because it was too hot yet. Road became pleasant when we began to lower along road enjoyed views of seashore.
   We started to waterfall Dzhur-Dzhur next morning. Anatoliy carried us to entrance into reserve park and we came into after paying for tickets. Of course, I knew another entrance, which was free of charge but it was long raise to get there. And Natalie doesn't like to go up too much. We went up through the beach forest and was at the waterfall soon. Stream was not too powerful as it was a couple years ago. There were many people near waterfall. Though the temperature of water was only 8 C many people stood under stream. We didn't so but we got off shoes and crossed river. Water was really cold. Then we walked up along river and had a look all "bathes" where people bathed too. There exists many legends about different bathes such as "cleaning from sins" or "bath of youth", etc. We continued our way up and reached "devil's bridge". There was a place where river flowed into stony bed through  the abrupt cliffs. Way farther lied on the narrow cornice. I could passed it but Natalie and Mike refused to go there.
I was further up "devil's bridge" a couple of times and can say that places there are beautiful. Huge stones covered with moss lie into river bed and thin streams run along their surfaces. Sometimes shore of rivers become very abrupt and river run as between two walls. Beach forest scatters around. Air there is cool and clean with different mountains' smells.
    I had to return to my family and we went back. we didn't cross river and went along another shore where we found nice clean glade. There were many cornel trees with red berries on their branches. But time for ripe did not come. This berry becomes ripe at October. We had some meal and were lying under oak trees. We went along old limestone masonry, which closed road from slope then and passed neglected pear garden. There were many pears on the trees but all of them were strong. We also saw  thorny blackberry
bushes along that road. Berries were black and red on them. We reached the houses of village soon and went through village to its center, where some people sold wine in bottles, cakes and fruits. Natalie didn't want to go on foot and we were lucky caught a  , which carried us to Solnechnogorskoe. We went on foot only two last kilometers from Solnechnogorskoe to Malorechenskoe. Natalie very liked that trip.
    Next day was dedicated to "campaign" of wine purchase. We started to Solnechnogorskoe but we didn't go along road. We went down to another "wild" beach and came along it. Sometimes we stopped and swam in the sea. Then we continued our hard way to wine shop. It was hard because weather was very hot and wind didn't blow. We had to go last mile along the road. Wine shop had two rooms for visitors - one for buying and another was a tasting room. Unfortunately, testing room was occupied for long time and we only had to buy wine. Mike bought a couple bottles of his favorite Muscat and one bottle of Crimean Champaign for our New Year party. Natalie and I didn't do experiment and had bought several bottles of Cahors wine. This wine is used in Greek Orthodox Church during giving Eucharist. Also I bought a couple of bottles unknown for me. We drank them yet and they was enough good.
    Mike and I started in our next mountain trip in day after "wine trip". We decided to go along new route and passed very large distance. Then we planed to go down to road Simferopol - Yalta and return by trolleybus to Alushta. We could went off from Alushta by bus or bus-taxi. We waked up early and Anatoliy drove us to Generalskoe to upper point of village. Then we went on foot. Raise there was not too abrupt and after one hour passed we reached little pond where road forked. We had a little rest there and met couple of local foresters and they told us about our way. And we went along new route. Sometimes road run down, sometimes it run smoothly but most part it run up. There was very hard for me to raise when slope became enough abrupt. But road was beautiful. Firstly we went through the beech forest. Even each tree has several trunks growing from one root. Wide tops of the trees kept up deep shadow on the ground. After another raise which changed next slope we went to the mountain river and road run along it and  leaded us to ford. River was not deep and wide and we crossed it by stones. I washed my face and neck and tasted water. It was cool and had good taste. Next meeting with river was a little interesting. I observed some movement on the surface of water in the little vortex. Firstly I thought that it was underwater spring. But when I had a look closely I saw that there were many very little insects, which whirled just on the water surface. Soon after river we saw burdocks with large leaves. Each leaf had the same size as newspaper's sheet. We reached the big glade near another river. That glade was full with enormous amount of such burdocks. Its height was more than a meter. After glade we crossed the river and met another raise. It was long and abrupt sometimes and road was a serpentine there. Road leaded us to another glade with grass. Beeches, which surrounded glade had very many nuts on their brunches. We couldn't find those nuts in the deep forest. I take several nuts each time as remembrance about Crimea.
    Then we walked about four kilometers up and down and reached big glade with planting of firs. It was a place where we came a couple of times at our past trips. Firs were unusual there. Pine-trees are ordinary  trees on the top of Crimea slopes but firs are rare trees there. It  remained a couple kilometers to plateau by road. Wild apple-trees and pear-trees were growing along that road. We were at the plateau soon. Raise  ended at last. We came to edge of plateau where stood modest monument dedicated Crimean's partisans. We had a meal there before starting further. It was very pleasant to sit in the shadow of trees and to inhale the fresh air of plateau and to look round dry yellow-green grass of plateau and limestone cliffs.
    After short rest we continued our trip. Area was enough plain there and our way was easy. We admired the scenery of plateau and blue sky with snow-white clouds on it. Tourist - pot-holer came up with us during Mike was observing little cave in the big hole with green trees and grass and I was making photographs of dry Crimean flowers. That tourist hiked with huge rucksack more than forty kilometers  in a couple of days. He returned to Simferopol from training of speleologists-amateurs on the karst plateau. He didn't know how to reach the road Simferopol - Yalta and asked us about that. But we knew only a little more than he and decided to go further together. We reached slope for the hour. We met the man there. He sat on the ground looking to the expanse where settlements and road were seen far below. We asked him about road and he answered that he would show this road to us. He was from Simferopol and he said that he has mountain walking regularly. Then we started to go down and, I suppose, we couldn't find path right away. There were several places where we could go along the wrong way and, of course, we would lose much time. Lowering was not too hard and it was only one place where slope was abrupt and it demanded to go down carefully. Man showed us several pear and plum trees and we had regaled ourselves with pears and plums. When we passed neglected garden we met a group of young people who went to plateau. Soon we were going through the village and came to road. We said goodbye to our fellow travellers there and got on trolleybus, which came to stop in the same time with us.
    Trolleybus very rattled about an hour and we saw how riskily drivers made overtaken at the closed turns. We were lucky reached bus station in Alushta because our bus started in ten minutes after we got on it. Soon Natalie met us at our "apartments". It was splendid trip.
    Next day we knew that our planed excursion to Crimean mountain and forest reserve was defeated due to organizers couldn't gather enough people for it. And we started another mountain trip in day after. We started early from home at morning  and went up to mountain, which raised just at the outskirts. Then our way lay along the road up and down through the bushes and short pines. Though it was early bit wind didn't blow and sun heat us up very strong. We went such way about a couple of hours. We saw hawks, which  hovered above cliffs. We saw far mountains, which was a little blue in morning haze. We saw the dam, which kept up water in little reservoir. We saw withered grass and dry flowers and breathed in smells of mountain air. Road there was not too hard. But it was hard after we reached the foot of mountain Lickon whose limestone cliffs were forward and above us. We went along serpentine again coming in and going away from beech forest on the slope. There were many Cornelian-cherry-trees there. But only rear berry was sweet. We passed very long raise where I wanted to return home and didn't raise further. We came to open area with bushes and rear trees. Cliffs became closely to us and there were many wild fruit trees there - wild plum, wild pear and wild apple trees grown along the road. There were many Cornelian-cherry-trees there too. Then we came into beech forest again. Road there forked. We chose one, which run around of Lickon top and leaded to Generalskoe. All way to Generalskoe passed through the shady beech forest and we met a couple of little mountain rivers crossed road and big stones on the road and near it. Sometimes we came to open glades and could see far sea and hills, which separated two valleys. After a half of hour we came to road which run to Generalskoe. We went along it many times. Soon we were at Generalskoe. Mike and I have a tradition to visit shop in Generalskoe and  to buy juice and something sweet. We obeyed that tradition again. Then we started along asphalt road from Generalskoe to Solnechnogorskoe. We were a success and caught up taxi-bus, which carried us to Malorechenskoe. It was our last mountain walk at this season.
    We spent next day walking and swimming at sea, buying some souvenirs for our colleagues and gathering our luggage. We didn't also forget to throw coins into sea. There exists such omen: if you throw a coin into water you will necessarily return to that place. Anatoliy drove us to Simferopol railway station at the evening. Natalie and Mike had a walk through the Simferopol market and bought some meal and four little bottles of Crimean balsam. Then we get on the train, occupied our compartment and went to bed soon. Ukrainian and Russian custom officers and frontier guards met us at the morning. We reached Moscow at 10 p.m. Our friend met us near train and drove us home by car. Next day I should start to my another North trip.